MDF | The Ultimate sheet material?

MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) | The ultimate board?


If you work with wood the chances are you’ve used tonnes of MDF over the years but could it be considered the ultimate sheet material?


According to Medite, a world leader in MDF boards, the material was discovered during a technical ‘accident’ in the 1960’s. By the 1980’s MDF was being mass-produced all over the world.


More recently, manufacturers have focused on both the quality of the product and the Eco credentials of manufacturing it. The main complaint over the years (besides the health risk which i’ll get to…) was its furry edge when cut, most manufacturers especially Medite, now produce such a dense core that the fibres are cleanly cut giving a much less furry edge. 

But it’s carcinogenic right?

In short, yes, but so is the dust from many naturally grown timbers. MDF is made up using wood fibres (increasingly more recycled content) and formaldehyde resin and its the formaldehyde which is considered to be a human carcinogen. In recent years (especially in Europe) MDF and other board products are now produced with very low levels of formaldehyde and as long as simple precautions are taken during the use of MDF, the risks associated with using it are considered low. Medite make a formaldehyde free MDF board for those who would like it. 

Woodworkers have known for a long time about health risks associated with breathing fine dust commonly produced in furniture manufacturing. MDF should be treated with extra care as the dust is particularly fine, wearing a dust mask is very important. Some people also find it beneficial to keep the dust from their skin so long sleeves and sometimes gloves should be considered. 

What’s available?

At CutList we like the quality of the world leading Medite MDF brand. Their products are very high quality and they cover all bases, Standard boards, MR (Moisture resistant), Fire resistant and now even waterproof, breathable panels for external cladding. There seems to be an MDF variant for every application. 

MDF is also used extensively in other products like veneered boards, melamine faced boards in colours and wood grain decors. We also list a pre-primed board (not Medite) for those who want a head-start on the painting of their furniture. 

We cut and edge loads of MDF. It is one of the industries most popular boards. For those who want a ‘paint ready’ edge we can apply preparation tape. This tape takes away the end grain preparation when the panels are painted. Paint will cause the end grain fibres to swell and go furry but with the prep tape this is avoided which means the cut panels can go straight to paint without sanding and re-sanding between paint coats. 

So is MDF the ultimate sheet material? 

Well I’m going to chicken-out on answering that one and leave it to you to decide but one thing I will say is that the board has probably been the one material which has brought about the biggest change to the furniture industry in the last 40 years across the world. Cheap to buy, easy to work, strong and brilliant at being painted, it must be up there at the top of the list as an ultimate sheet material.  For our price list and board sizes click HERE As always, our price list includes cutting to size. 
MDF Prep tape edged by CutList | cut and edge service
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