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For those that prefer a more affordable but strong wood, compared to solid wood there is MDF Wood. MDF is a type of engineered wood known as Medium-Density Fibreboard. MDF is made up of thin panels made out of wood fibre, resin and wax. In looking at engineered wood, MDF is seen to be a level above plywood. MDF is more dense, stronger and more durable. MDF is a popular choice of material used to make kitchen cupboards nowadays. It has become popular in Scotland where some homeowners opt for MDF cabinets or MDF cabinet doors. We would recommend visiting a kitchen showroom in Scotland to get some advice on MDF cupboards. Many kitchen companies sell ready-made MDF cabinets.

Why you should choose MDF board for your kitchen cupboards

There are different types of MDF. They differ in density, size, glue used, moisture content, wood species and thickness. The more thick and dense the MDF board is, the more expensive it becomes. In houses nowadays MDF wood is predominantly used in making cabinet doors. Many solid wood cabinets will use MDF doors. There are a few factors why this is the case. MDF doesn’t warp or crack. Similar to wood it expands and contracts when the temperature or humidity changes. It is different to wood as it won’t warp. This is due to the fact that the board, due to its structure moves as a unit. With humidity and temperature fluctuations you don’t have to worry about your cabinet doors getting damaged.

The pros of MDF board

MDF is made out of fine particles so it doesn’t have noticeable grain. This is ideal when painting your cupboard doors as it will have a smooth and better finish. If you plan on painting your cupboard doors we recommend MDF cabinet doors above solid wood. MDF lends itself to being customised. Cabinet doors are available in a wide variety of styles. These styles include: shaker-style cabinet doors, flat-surfaced panel doors, raised doors and inset doors. Due to the structure of the MDF board it can be cut and drilled in lots of different ways and it doesn’t get damaged.

Some aspects to consider regarding MDF kitchen cabinets

MDF is on the market in larger sizes than solid wood. If you need to create a unit that requires a large piece of wood without joints, we recommend MDF. It is also something to consider that MDF is normally cheaper than solid wood. However, it’s still as strong and will last well when it is properly maintained.

Where MDF board is most commonly used

MDF is most commonly used in kitchen cabinets. Most kitchen cabinets are made up of solid wood and MDF components. MDF board is normally found on the cupboard doors and interior panels. It is easier to maintain and clean.

Reasons for choosing MDF for your kitchen cabinet doors

MDF not only looks good but is durable. Due to the make-up of MDF, it’s a strong and durable material to be used in kitchens. MDF also lasts well. MDF comes in a variety of colours and finishes. Due to MDF being a smooth surface, you can apply a range of colours and finishes to it to complete its look. You can choose to get raw MDF and paint it yourself or you can buy a ready-painted cabinet from the kitchen showroom. MDF installation is an easy process so you don’t need to worry about any inconsistencies or damage done to the MDF during installation. Or you could buy a ready-made MDF cabinet for your kitchen from your kitchen company of choice.

MDF is an affordable option

In comparison to other materials, MDF is affordable. If you are overhauling your entire kitchen or just updating some cabinets, it’s nice to have an affordable material. Even though it is affordable it is durable so you won’t have to replace your doors after a short time period. MDF is easy to customise. It can be cut into different styles without damaging the wood. If you want a sleek, modern-style kitchen with cut out detailing, MDF will work well. Even though you will pay less for this material it is still a robust option for a kitchen cabinet.

Comparing solid wood kitchen doors versus MDF Kitchen doors

Finding the right design cabinets for your kitchen is not just about the colour. The materials you use are just as important. MDF doors are normally coated with paint or stained and varnished for added protection, durability and a stylish finish. MDF is man-made from recycled wood fibres. It is processed and machine dried then pressed to produce dense sheets that are then made into replacement kitchen cabinet doors.

Does the material get affected by heat and humidity?

In your kitchen, the temperature changes throughout the day. When it’s standing empty it can get quite cold but it heats up quickly when cooking and moisture can build up too. MDF tends to a superior material to use in rooms where the temperature goes up and down a lot. It handles humidity better than solid wood doors that expand in temperature changes both vertically and horizontally which means the solid wood doors may get damaged over time. MDF is lower maintenance while solid wood doors require more upkeep.

Which material is better for painting?

MDF has a smooth finish so it can be easier to paint it later on. Solid wood often has a traditional grained effect whereby many colours of paint look good on it. With solid wood doors you have a  few extra steps to get through for the best end result.  If you have a smaller budget MDF is the chosen material. There are a variety of shades and colours available.

MDF doesn’t have a noticeable grain on your kitchen cabinet doors

Due to the very fine wood particles in MDF there will be no grain as seen in natural wood. It will, therefore, have a smoother finish ideal for painting. Natural wood has knots in it and adds points of weakness where damage to your door could occur. Solid wood cabinets can be used in conjunction with MDF doors. The options of flat-panelled doors, inset doors, shaker style doors means you can choose an aesthetic style that suits your own specific preferences. MDF doors are easier to customise. They can be cut in several different ways in a way that won’t damage the doors.

MDF can have a high-level moisture resistance

When you choose MDF fibreboard there are several boards that have a higher moisture resistance. MDF cabinet doors come in larger sizes. If your kitchen cabinet needs big pieces of wood without joints, MDF is a good choice. You can create bigger doors than those made of natural wood due to the lightweight quality of this material. MDF cabinet doors won’t weigh on the cabinets. They will work alongside almost any type of wood for your kitchen cabinets. Using MDF means you are choosing to use recycled wood which makes this an environmentally-friendly choice of material. Bug infestations are also kept to a minimum. Solid wood is more vulnerable to bug infestations than man-made MDF.

Choosing the best paint for MDF cabinets

In painting MDF cabinets you should avoid water-based paints. The best choice of paint for MDF cabinet doors is oil-based paints. An alternative would be non-water based acrylic and latex paint. These are easier to use than oil paints. Painting the material is easy and safe and can be done by you or by the kitchen company fitment team that will install your cabinetry for you. Before you begin painting your MDF cabinets there are a couple of things you need to know about this material. MDF, as mentioned, is made of small wood pieces pressed together with wax and resin. It is therefore very absorbent and vulnerable to water damage. Bear this in mind when painting your MDF. Never use water-based paints and always seal the surfaces with PVA glue or primer before applying the paint. It also has no knots or uneven surfaces so it’s easy to paint. Due to there being no natural grain in the wood you don’t need to worry about different sections of the wood matching in pattern.

How to paint MDF edges

You need to seal the edges of your MDF with PVA glue or primer first. If you are doing it yourself you apply a thin, even layer of PVA glue or oil-based filling primer, let it dry, then you can sand it down. After priming the edges the MDF will look more porous than the rest of the board. To counter this you can use a drywall compound then sand it down and apply primer on top of it. Once you have prepared the edges, use oil-based paints on your MDF and it won’t get damaged.

How to paint MDF cabinets

When you paint MDF cabinets and kitchen cabinet doors there are a few factors to bear in mind. Always begin with as thin a coating as possible. The first layer tests to see if your MDF is sealed properly. If it’s not it will start to absorb the paint. If your MDF is treated in the correct manner, the paint will take a long time to dry which is a good sign. If the paint dries fast the MDF is absorbing the paint. If this happens you will need to sand down the wood and start sealing it again. In the end, you want two or three coats of paint on your MDF. Make sure to sand the wood down in between layers. Use a heavier grit with the first coat and make it lighter with each layer of paint. This will guarantee proper adhesion for a good end result. After you are finished painting, add one more layer of sealant. This acts as a protective layer for your cabinet from scratches. As was the case with the paint, start with thin layers of sealant and apply two or three coats. Work carefully along the edges to get a good, even coat as this is the most absorbent part of the wood.

Choosing the right paint roller to paint your MDF cabinets

If you are going to prime an unfinished board surface before its framed as cabinets you can use a standard paint roller. You will also need a narrower roller to get into the cabinet corners. A mini roller will work for this. Mini rollers are 4 inches and can reach hard to get to corners while the standard roller is about 9 inches long. Make sure the roller comes with a high-density foam roller cover with a small diameter for easy application.

Choosing to laminate your MDF kitchen cabinets

Once the cabinets have been prepped you can start the laminating process. Start by measuring the sides and bottoms of your cabinets. Measure with extra length where you need to have an overhang. Then if you make a mistake later you can adjust things. Open the roll of laminate and don’t cut through the backer or scuff it when cutting. It’s a good idea to use the cardboard from the shipping to make your cuts on. Begin by cutting your rough pieces. Use a straight edge for pieces that fit against walls or joints. You should fit your pieces before you peel back the backing. This will ensure your cuts are accurate before sticking down the laminate. Peel back half an inch to one inch of the backer. The adhesion will be strong. Line up and begin sticking the edge at the desired point.

Ensure that you firmly press down on the surfaces being laminated from top to bottom or from side to side. This will make sure there are no bubbles in the laminate. Pull the backer off 6 inches at a time to allow air to escape and to allow you to press the laminate to the surface of your cabinet. If you need to pull the laminate back off do it straight away. After several minutes it will be hard to take off. Keep laminating until the entire piece is firmly stuck. Use a trimming tool and utility knife with a sharp blade to trim off excess laminate. Where two laminate joints come together make sure you have a good trim line. If you lie the utility knife’s blade flat against the cabinet you can create a trim line that’s is smooth and you won’t need to sand it. When you have laminated the sides do the same with the faces in the same way. The cabinet faces are always laminated last. You won’t want to leave any laminate overhang as it could snag on something so trim off any overhang. Then you can hang your doors.

Choosing to stain and varnish your MDF kitchen cabinets

If you are planning or staining your MDF cabinets yourself, there are certain steps you can take to make the process easier. Stain comes in a variety of colours to replicate the look of oak, jarrah, maple or other timber species. Buy a solvent-based stain so there will be even colour on your cabinet. Varnish comes in gloss or high-gloss options. This is based on personal preference. Also, buy some medium-size paintbrushes and a drop-cloth. Or you could choose to buy a finished cabinet which the kitchen company may be able to fit for you.

Applying your stain and varnish to your kitchen cabinet

Use a medium-sized paintbrush to apply your stain in long and smooth strokes. If you want a grain effect try to overlap each stroke horizontally and vertically. Use the smaller sized paintbrush for smaller surfaces or corners. You will need up to three coats to get the desired colour, especially if the surface is porous. Let the stain dry according to the label’s instructions. Wash your paintbrushes straight away so they don’t get stuck together.

Once the stain is dry, you can varnish the cabinet. Apply the varnish with smooth strokes and in an even manner. You will need one to two coats. Make sure to sand in between coats. Always wash your brushes straight after use. Let the varnish dry before handling the cabinet so there won’t be fingerprints in the finish. The job is now complete!

Using MDF for your kitchen cabinets is a good idea

Using MDF for kitchen cabinets or kitchen cabinet doors combined with solid wood casings is a good idea. Not only is MDF an affordable option but it is durable and doesn’t warp. It can be finished in a variety of ways from painting to staining and varnishing. There are many paint colour options. You can buy your MDF cabinets at the kitchen company you are using and many companies have already finished the paint or stain job and can even fit the cabinets for you. Or you could paint or finish them yourself. The kitchen showroom consultant will advise you on the best looking MDF cabinet for your kitchen based on colour and style preference. Using MDF for your kitchen cabinets is a wonderful choice and the end result will look just the way you want it as you can choose the finish on your kitchen cabinets.