MDF vs chipboard- Which is better?

Is engineered wood good for furniture

Both MDF and chipboard come from the engineered wood group of woods, but they have very different qualities and prices.

MDF and chipboard basically manufactured with the same process.

This includes cutting some raw wood pieces through a large saw to make fibers. Then applying some sort of chemicals on those fibers and pressed hard in the presence of high temperature they formed into boards. The thickness can be varied.

The major difference in the manufacturing process of both these types of wood is the Density.

MDF as the number suggests Medium-density wood has medium-density of wood fibers. Chipboards are also called low-density wood, which simply means the board has low fibers per area. There’s one more type of wood, High-density wood, HDF featured-rich fibers per area.

In simple words, chipboards can be useful for making small furniture like a set of chairs, a small wardrobe, a desk, anything which doesn’t need to look shiny and smooth since they are bad at finishing. Whereas, MDF is a good alternative to natural woods. Provide an aesthetic feel and shiny look when stained, also are durable and good water-resistant.

Visible Differences: Chipboard vs MDF

LookThe smooth finish of MDF is caused by its small wood grains.Compared to MDF, chipboards don’t have a smooth finishing look due to the low density of fibers.
DensityCompared to Chipboards, MDF has a higher density level.Boards with lower densities are called chipboards.
StrengthMDF has more strength due to the high-level density of fibers.Due to low-density levels, they’re not as strong as MDF.
DurabilityDurability also depends on the density level, so MDF is durable than chipboard and less durable than HDF.Chipboards are less durable boards.
WeightThey are heavy, also cutting them is harder than chipboards.They are lightweight, easy to cut through, and to work with.
MoistureThe High-density of fibers makes them good resistant to moisture.They are bad resistant to moisture, in general.
LifespanMDF is capable of lasting up to ten years in good condition.The lifespan of chipboards can reach five years.
PriceThe MDF is costly since they have more fibers.The chipboard is cheap, you will find their pricing %30 less than MDF, and %50 less than HDF.

What is MDF?

One of the most popular woods nowadays is this MDF, a lot of interior furniture is now being manufactured by using this less expensive wood, carpenters usually suggest to people who want a cheap alternative to natural wood.

For some good reasons, if you compare the pricing of two pieces of furniture one made out of MDF and the other using natural wood. There will be a clear difference, the MDF would always be the cheaper option regardless of what you’re after to build.

This is also made from by-products of hardwood at the industry level, due to its limitless and rapid manufacturing techniques, the price doesn’t go up dramatically.

However, if we look back a quarter, since 2016, there has been an increase in demand, which has caused the prices to rise.

Like other engineered woods, MDF, or medium-density fiberboard is a condensed structure made of wood fibers that are Glued together at high temperature and pressure

It is named medium density because of the number of fibers compressed within it. Price and quality depend a lot on the density level, with that said, this can be judged a perfect balance between these two factors.

Advantages of MDF

  • People looking for cheaper home décor materials will find MDF useful since it is inexpensive.
  • In order to make MDF, recycling is used. This makes it environmentally friendly.
  • There is no roughness to the surface.
  • Paint can be applied easily.
  • Compared to traditional finishing methods, it is more realistic.
  • You can drill holes and cut through MDF without causing damage.

Disadvantages of MDF

  • Compared to natural woods, for instance, maple and walnut, MDF isn’t as strong. 
  • MDF is prone to cracking or splitting under pressure, it’s not strong enough to hold on to heavyweights.
  • The absorption rate of MDF is higher compared to natural woods. In this situation, swelling and damage are likely to occur.
  • There is urea-formaldehyde in MDF, which can be harmful to the lungs and eyes.
  • MDF’s production releases a lot of particles into the air, which is potentially harmful.

What are chipboards?

Chipboards are one the cheapest alternative ways to get furniture built. Many interior furniture which doesn’t have to be strong, rather they feel more comfortable when made of lightweight, such as a set of chairs, a table, a desk, they mostly are made from chipboards.

The use of waste wood in the manufacture of chipboard makes the material inexpensive as well. A mixture of resin and sawdust is heated and pressed together to create this product. Chipboard furniture is widely used for low-end home décor.

 Additionally, it is commonly used for countertop underlying layers. Chipboards can be drilled easily, but can also be damaged. 

On particle boards, veneer or laminate are used to give the surface a more attractive appearance. As chipboard is prone to breaking or chipping, it is difficult to shape and mold.

Advantages of chipboards

  • As compared to other products, chipboard is certainly less expensive than solid wood, MDF, and plywood.
  •  Weight is light, making it easy to carry and transport.
  • It has a better hold on nails and screws compared to MDF.
  • Cleans easily and maintains well.
  • A variety of operations can be performed on it, including drilling, milling, painting, gluing, etc.
  • Using sawdust, chipped wood, and shavings as raw materials, it is an environmentally friendly product.
  • As opposed to solid wood, they do not come with natural defects.
  • Chipboards are soundproof, which is why they are a good choice for theaters, auditoriums, and speakers.
  • Veneer and laminate materials are able to adhere easily to the flat and smooth surface. Surfaces made of these materials can be beautified by simply gluing thin sheets onto them.

Disadvantages of chipboards

  • The strength of chipboards is insufficient when compared to other types of interior materials like plywood and MDF. The low strength of the item makes it particularly easy to damage and should be handled with care.
  • The durability of chipboards is poor.
  • This material is easily penetrated by moisture and humidity. Chipboards suffer from this significant disadvantage. Due to moisture, these boards can expand.
  • Various types of chipboard use toxic resins to manufacture, which is not eco-friendly.

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