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Question DetailsAsked on 1/19/2016

What is the better material to use in kitchen cabinets, plywood or mdf?

If its high quality mdf and it's finished well I'm told it lasts longer than plywood cabinets.

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1 Answer


Not by a long shot, in my experience. MDF is "harder" surfaced so as long as it stays intact it will probably last longer than a wood surface as far as scratch resistance goes, though I would expect a plywood surfaced with vinyl laminate to last much longer. Actually it is an unfair comparison, because rarely is the MDF exposed by itself - exposed surfaces commonly have a melamine or similar coating, so are more properly compared to a laminate veneer plywood.

The problem with MDF comes when it gets wet - interior/exterior grade plywood (which is the minimum grade that should be used in wet are cabinets) has to stay wet for quite a while to start breaking down - MDF starts going mushy and swelling and breaking up pretty quick if it gets wet - commonly in hours rather than weeks. Everybody I know in the industry considers MDF and particle board cabinets to be marginally one step above the cardboard ones from China (yes, box stores are actually selling cardboard/pressboard furnishings and cabinets), and a far cry behind veneer or laminate faced plywood. Personally, I would not have anything but plywood cabinets (with solid wood as applicable for trim and sometimes faces and doors).

And if MDF were actually "better", would you not expect it to be more expensive than plywood construction cabinets - where actually it is generally quite a bit cheaper.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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