MDF or Solid Wood

Leesider32

Registered User
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27
Hi all,

Looking for some advice again, we are looking to get a built-in cabinet for the tv with floating shelves above it. A carpenter we know has recommended MDF, I am just concerned that it is going to be cheap looking, do you think we should go for solid wood instead? Now just to clarify we do want it white so in that case is MDF the better option anyway? Probably going with shaker doors.

Thanks for any advice on this.
 

Leo

Moderator
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The use of MDF or ply for cabinet carcasses is is pretty widespread, it's a lot cheaper than solid wood, and you don't have to deal with issues of movement of the wood as it contracts and expands over time. If you want the solid wood look, veneered MDF works really well. The facing frames and door frames can be solid to give you the look you're after.

If you want the cabinet to be white, the use of solid wood is a bit of an expensive waste. If you want glossy white, melamine is a good option for carcasses, but can loot a little 'plasticy' especially if you're after a more hand finished look you'd get with painted MDF or wood.
 

noproblem

Frequent Poster
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1,581
A good carpenter and you won't know the difference. As Leo says, why use solid wood and then paint it white. Then again you have to remember what MDF really is; MDF is an engineered lumber product made of sawdust bonded together with a urea-formaldehyde adhesive.
The choice is yours.
 

Leesider32

Registered User
Messages
27
Still haven't decided on this, any thoughts on veneered MDF as Leo mentioned but spray painted white? What veneer would be most suitable for this? Or would it just be a waste?

Still have a fear that the paintable MDF won't look as good!
 

RedOnion

Frequent Poster
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3,047
Personally, I would go for either factory made vinyl wrapped MDF doors, or painted solid wood.
Unless your carpenter is a real craftsman, painted MDF won't look good.

I'd suggest going to any fitted kitchen showroom, and ask to see their doors. It'll give you an idea.

I'm looking at wardrobes at the moment, and you can get an off-white woodgrain texture veneer that looks nice.

Here's an example of a door manufacturer to show what's available:
http://tippo.ie/door-range/
 

Leo

Moderator
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9,834
Still have a fear that the paintable MDF won't look as good!
Yeah, the regular MDF takes more prep and effort to get a decent finish on. Veneered MDF will cost a little more to purchase, but save time in the painting process. It'll give the same results as painted hardwood, without the issues of warping/ cupping that you are likely to get with thin door panels. You also don't need to worry about allowing for expansion across the panel as you would with hardwood.

Any of the veneers available will do, but beech is likely the cheapest and has a good tight grain.

As RedOnion suggests, if one of the standard door sizes will fit the cabinet you're making, the factory produced doors will likely be a cheaper option. The wrapped options would likely be difficult to match with the frame of a custom unit, and while some fitters will offer vinyl wrapping to match, the results are usually well short of the factory quality.

Attached is a door I made with solid oak frame and veneered MDF panel, finished with oil. The finish on the panel is indistinguishable from the solid wood. Oil hides nothing, so you know a paint finish will work well.
 

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