MDF vs Wood Kitchen Doors

Wood Kitchen DoorsIf you are in the process of investing in new kitchen cabinetry, one of the first choices that you will be confronted with is whether to go with solid wood or medium density fiberboard (MDF). MDF is made from resin and recycled wood fibres which have been pressed into solid, dense boards.

Undoubtedly, wood cabinets can be beautiful as well as quite strong and durable. Some people love the look of a particular type of wood so much, that they would not even want to consider using a man-made material. But wood also has some drawbacks.

The main problem with solid wood is that it contracts and expands in reaction to changes of heat and humidity which can lead to cracking and buckling. Therefore, if you do choose solid wood, the conditions in your home should be well monitored. Wood cabinets are not recommended for areas of the home that are subject to high humidity.

Because they are subject to contracting, solid wood doors require a higher degree of care and maintenance.

MDF, on the other hand performs much better in a variety of different environments. For painted cabinet doors, MDF tends to be the more popular choice. When painted, MDF tends to look better than wood as paint over wood can look grainy and it’s hard to cover any knots with paint. Of course, some woods look better than others when painted (oak tends to look the worst), but painted MDF maintains a consistent colour throughout.

The construction of MDF cabinetry is less complicated as well. When constructing the frame and panel for solid wood, it is necessary to connect five individual components: four pieces of the frame and then a centre panel which must be slightly smaller than the frame allowing the frame to float to compensate for expansion and contraction. The technique is called cope and stick joinery.

MDF construction involves using computer operated machinery (CNC) to mill one piece frames with the centre cut out. MDF is dense enough that it does not move independently from the frame and therefore there is no need to have a floating design.

Like any material, the MDF will still expand and contract (though not the extent that solid wood does), but because the door and frame move as a unit, the movement does not cause cracking and peeling.

Another advantage of MDF is that it is available in significantly larger sizes. These larger sized boards can be milled into wainscot or bead board panelling.  And because MDF is a man made, you don’t have to worry that quality material will not be available.

Finally a big consideration for many home owners is cost. MDF is often a less expensive option than solid wood.

Basically, if you want painted kitchen cabinets or something less expensive that requires little care, then we recommend MDF.

If however, you love the natural look of wood, then we are certainly happy to provide you with that as well. We do recommend though, that you take extra care to avoid it being exposed to extremes of temperature and humidity.

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