Though these two materials may have found a place in your home, they are definitely not interchangeable. Like every other material, these two also come with their set of advantages and disadvantages. We thought we should tell you about MDF vs Plywood, often used in building kitchens and modular furniture. A little extra information never did any harm, right? Read on.

Let’s start with MDF

MDF is medium density fiberboard, which is basically engineered wood obtained by breaking down hardwood and softwood composites. Since it is made up of small wood fibers, there are no visible wood grains or knots. The fibres are joined together, using wax to produce panels by applying pressure or high temperature.

Price starts at ₹34 per sqft.

Advantages of MDF

Now that we know what MDF is composed of, we are sure you want to know how good or bad it is.

  • MDF is generally cheaper, when compared to plywood
  • The surface of MDF is very smooth and makes for a great base for painting
  • Thanks to the smooth edges, it is easy to cut and carve designs out of MDF
  • It is denser and stronger than particle board
MDF vs Plywood- bookshelf
MDF is commonly used for bookshelves

Disadvantages of MDF

Like every other material, MDF also comes with its set of cons:

  • MDF soaks up water and other liquids like a sponge and swells, if not sealed well
  • Since MDF is a dense material, it is very heavy and difficult to deal with
  • Being made up of fine fibre, it does not hold screws very well
  • MDF easily suffers damages and sags, if not handled with care

Want to know if your knowledge of MDF is true? Here are some common myths about MDF

A Case for Plywood

mdf vs plywood- plywood stacks
Plywood is veneer wood glued together

What is Plywood?

Like MDF, plywood is also engineered wood, made by binding veneer wood sheets together into one solid piece. Plywood comes in different grades, so you can choose the right one that suits your needs. Unlike MDF, plywood has visible wood grains, but is free of other imperfections. Low grade plywood can be used in flooring at homes, while the higher grade version is perfect for cabinets and shelves.

Price starts at ₹35 per sqft.

Advantages of Plywood

Plywood has a lot of advantages that you could consider while getting it installed at your home. Such as:

  • Made up of multiple layers of veneer, plywood is a tough material to use at home
  • It does not soak up water and liquids like MDF. Thus, it is less susceptible to damage
  • Because of the grains that plywood has, it is easier to stain and thus makes for a great material for cabinets and tabletops
  • Plywood holds screws tightly, since it is made up of layers and each layer gives the screw more holding
  • This material comes in various designs and thicknesses
stacks of plywood
Plywood is commonly used for outdoor projects

Disadvantages of Plywood

Before you jump to conclusions, let us tell you some of the disadvantages of plywood, that you should consider before buying it:

  • Plywood is more expensive that MDF; and higher the grade, higher the price
  • Since plywood shows layers on the surface, it has to be finished well with timber or decorative mouldings
  • It is difficult to create designs using plywood, since it is difficult to get perfectly smooth cuts on it
  • Plywood splinters easily and the edges that have layers, may have voids when not cut properly

Here is our expert advice on everything you need to know about Plywood. 

Still a little baffled with facts? Here is a comparison chart between MDF and Plywood. 

mdf vs plywood - comparison
Comparison Chart: MDF vs Plywood

The Verdict

Since MDF does not handle moisture well, it is not suitable for outdoor use. So, use it indoors — as decorative panels or furniture. MDF is ideal for cutting, machining and drilling, since it does not chip easily.

On the other hand, plywood is a much more stronger material, which can be used for doors, floors, staircases and outdoor furniture. It is easier to create curved surfaces with plywood, since it bends easily. Do you want to know about laminates or veneer? Then take a look at this Laminate vs Veneer piece that we wrote just for you.

Courtesy: Design by Misha

Keep the comments and suggestions coming in!