Don’t Fear MDF

Traditional vignette with cabinetry containing MDF

Would you have ever guessed that MDF could belong in a high-end kitchen?

“Don’t Fear MDF” by John Allen

When looking into painted cabinets, you will often find that the center panel on a painted door will be made of a material called MDF, or Medium Density Fiberboard. I have found that some customers that come through my showroom are resistant to the idea that part of the door would not be comprised of “real” wood. There are a number of benefits to such a product, and in most cases, it is a superior material to use in the panel for a cabinet door.

MDF is made from wood fiber and similar recycled products like paper and cardboard pulp. This material is mixed with resins and then pressed into sheets under very high pressure. The finished product is cut and milled into door panels the same way as a hardwood panel.

MDF is a strong and stable product. It does not swell and shrink with seasonal changes in humidity. As a result, door panels will not end up with unpainted areas showing during the dry winter months. MDF is much denser than particle board. Painted wood panels will show splits from time to time while the surface of an MDF panel will stay smooth and flat.

The only time where MDF is not used for a cabinet door’s center panel is when the door features an “antiqued” look where some of the painted finish has holes or areas that have been sanded through. When the material under the painted finish is visible, the panel must be the same wood as the frame of the door.

The rest of the time, there is no need to be worried about MDF. A customer who wants a painted finish for their cabinet door will have a better looking and more stable product with MDF panels. Also, since the manufacture of MDF uses wood that would otherwise be wasted, as well as some recycled content, it is a more eco-friendly material.

John Allen, Showroom Manager
Kitchen Views at National Lumber
15 Needham St. Newton, MA 02461
617-244-8020
Email: jallen@kitchenviews.com
Web: www.kitchenviews.com

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2 Responses to “Don’t Fear MDF”


  1. 1 Jessica May 4, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Excellent post John. Very good information about mdf panels for clients that might be shy or vary of this product.


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