MDF v Plywood FAQs

MDF, Medium-Density Fiberboard and Plywood are two popular materials that at-home DIY-ers and commercial builders commonly use. Both materials can often be used for the same projects so choosing which material can come down to personal preference or reasons such as cost, strength and workability. We thought we would give you an overview of both materials, when they are typically used and how they compare against each other.

What is MDF and how is it made?

MDF is an engineered wood product which is manufactured by combing both hardwood and softwood fibres with wax and urea-formaldehyde resin glue to make a dense board. There are various types of MDF available that have different types of characteristics. At Cut Plastic Sheeting, we offer Standard MDF and Melamine Faced MDF cut to custom size and shape.

What is Plywood and how is it made?

Plywood is also an engineered wood product and is manufactured by pressing together several thin layers of veneered wood to create a strong solid board. Similarly to MDF, there are various different grades of Plywood available with different thicknesses and features. The two types of Plywood offered at Cut Plastic Sheeting are B/B Birch Plywood and WISA Multiwall Plywood.

Typical Applications of Plywood and MDF:

Standard MDF and Plywood should only be used for interior use only. Therefore, they are very common in applications such as: 

  • Shelving
  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Furniture
  • Wall panelling

What is cheaper?

Typically, MDF is known to be cheaper than Plywood because of how it is manufactured. However, it will depend on the type/grade of MDF or Ply that you are comparing it to, for example, higher grades of MDF can be more expensive than lower grades of Plywood.

Is Plywood or MDF Water Resistant?

Both materials in their standard form are made for indoor use only as they are not water or moisture-resistant. However, if water damage occurs, Plywood doesn’t soak up the liquid as quickly as MDF. That said, there are different variations of both products that have been manufactured to have water-resistant properties. 

What is stronger MDF or Plywood?

Out of both materials, Plywood is considered to be the stronger of the two due to the way it is manufactured. Plywood is made up of multiple layers of wood veneers so it is a hard solid wood material. MDF is made using broken-down wood fibres, so when it tries to hold a heavyweight, it causes too much pressure on the material and it can sag or split.

Can you paint on Plywood or MDF?

You can in fact paint on both Plywood and MDF but they both need to be properly primed first as well as using the most suitable type of paint. Both materials have a smooth surface, so they do have a nice surface area to paint on. It is important to note, that as MDF can absorb water, some experts recommend using an oil-based paint instead of a water-based one.

Can MDF or Plywood be cut or drilled?

MDF can be an easy material to cut and drill with the right tools. It has a non-directional grain structure which allows the material to cut without causing breakages or splinters. Similar to MDF, Plywood can be cut and drilled easily when using the right tools and techniques.

When cutting both Plywood and MDF, please remember to wear a dust mask and goggles as it produces lots of dust particles which contain harmful chemicals.

How to buy MDF & Plywood?

We offer various types of cut to size MDF & Plywood in different thicknesses available to order online.

Have any more questions? 

Contact our experts who can give you advice and recommendations on wood sheets cut to size. 

Post By Cerys Furnival

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