Last updated: August 11, 2021

Welcome to our big MDF board test 2021. Here we present all the MDF boards that we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information for you and also added a summary of customer reviews on the web. With this, we would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best MDF board for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy an MDF board.




Our most important facts

  • Since its discovery, the MDF board has become indispensable for hobby craftsmen. The boards, which are available in different densities, are versatile.
  • The MDF board can be used in many ways in the areas of flooring, door frames, furniture or stereo equipment.
  • In addition to properties such as fire resistance, water resistance and flexibility, MDF panels also impress with their fair price-performance ratio.

The Best MDF Board: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an MDF board

What is MDF board and what is it made of?

An MDF board or medium density fibreboard is a product made of several wood components and glue, which is used in a similar way to chipboard. Produced in the USA, the product found its way to Europe in the late 1980s. MDF boards are mainly made from the finest bark-free softwood. These are then pressed by machines into wooden boards of the same size.

MDF boards are usually made of wood from coniferous trees. (Image source: unsplash.com / Johny Goerend)

The fine wood fibre boards are characterised by their smooth yet firm edges. MDF boards are available in thicknesses from 2mm to 60 mm and densities from 600 kg/m³ to 1000 kg/m³. The wood fibre boards are produced by a dry process with the addition of an artificial binder. After production, the boards are differentiated according to their respective raw density range:

  • high-density fibreboard (HDF) with a density ≥ 800 kg/m³
  • light MDF (L-MDF) with a density ≤ 650 kg/m³
  • ultra light MDF (UL-MDF) with a density ≤ 550 kg/m³

The MDF boards can be given additional properties by adding synthetic binders. This can give the boards additional properties such as fire protection, moisture resistance, resistance to biological infestation.

What is the intended use of an MDF board?

MDF boards have a very wide range of uses, but they are primarily used in the furniture industry because they are a cost-effective alternative to solid wood.

MDF boards are often integrated into loudspeakers because of their good sound properties. (Image source: unsplash.com / Lukas / Sander)

The smooth surface of the MDF board, which allows easy processing with paint and varnish, is mainly found in the kitchen. Especially as profile decorations for kitchen furniture. In addition to kitchen furniture, MDF panels are also used as secondary decorations for doors, window frames and prefabricated houses. In powder-coated form, table tops and cover plates have also been made from fibreboard for several years now.

An unusual field of application for MDF panels is loudspeakers and flooring. Thanks to their composition (several layers of wood fibre), MDF panels have the ability to absorb vibrations well. Therefore, they are often installed in addition to laminate floors to act as impact sound absorbers.

What alternatives are there to MDF boards?

If you don't like MDF boards, you can use the following alternatives: Multiplex board, plywood, OSB, chipboard, GFM board or solid wood panels. Hardboard is also a good alternative to MDF. In the following we will describe the alternatives in more detail.

Multiplex board & plywood

Multiplex boards and plywood boards are very similar, both consist of several thin layers of wood that are glued together. The difference between the two boards is the thickness, whereby plywood boards usually only have three to five layers of wood, which are also usually only less than one centimetre thick. Multiplex boards, on the other hand, only start at a thickness of twelve millimetres and consist of at least five layers of wood. Put simply, plywood panels are the light version of multiplex panels.

Experience has shown that birch is used for the individual layers of wood, as birch wood is waterproof. However, layers of birch and poplar are also possible.

The boards are used in the following areas: Vehicle and machine construction, furniture construction, partition walls, stairs and worktops.

OSB boards (coarse chipboard)

Coarse particle boards were originally intended as a waste product of the veneer and plywood industry. However, a use for the coarse boards was found after all. OSB boards consist of coarse chips which are pressed into boards under high pressure and temperature. Due to their characteristic appearance, OSB boards are often used as flooring or decorative elements. However, the most common use of OSB boards is for interior finishing. The strengths of OSB panels include high flexural strength and good water vapour diffusion resistance. In contrast, OSB boards have a high moisture absorption and cannot be painted due to their rough surface.

Chipboard

Chipboard is very versatile in its use due to its fine structure. This is why chipboard is often used in furniture construction as well as in carcassing as a damping material. The production of chipboard is very inexpensive, as it mainly consists of wood residues that are glued and pressed into boards. Chipboard is characterised by its good load-bearing capacity and is available in almost all dimensions.

Chipboard is the most widely used wood-based material and an indispensable part of everyday life. (Image source: unsplash.com / Pawel Czerwinski)

Similar to OSB boards, chipboard cannot be painted and is highly moisture-absorbent. Nevertheless, they are excellent for not too demanding applications because they offer such good value for money.

GFM board

The GFM board is a glue-free, building biology alternative to the other boards. The GFM board does not contain any chemical substances, vapours or foils and is still twice as strong as an OSB board. Learn more about the GFM board in the following video.

Cement-bonded wood-based panels

Cement-bonded wood-based panels are, as the name suggests, bonded with cement instead of glue. This gives the boards a smooth cement-grey surface, which is largely resistant to frost, insects and fungus. The cement-bonded slabs are available either in a single layer with a homogeneous structure or in several layers as a composite material. Depending on the density, the cement boards are used for sound and heat insulation or as insulation boards.

Decision: What types of MDF boards are there and which is the right one for you?

We distinguish between the following types of MDF boards:

  • MDF board without formaldehyde
  • MDF board with primer film

We have listed the advantages and disadvantages of each type below to make your purchase decision easier.

What distinguishes an MDF board without formaldehyde and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Originally, formaldehyde was only used as a preservative, but now the substance is also used as an adhesive component in woodwork. Formaldehyde is also used in the production of MDF boards. After the wood fibres have dried, they are glued with formaldehyde resins, which are supposed to hold the boards together and make them resistant to moisture. However, the chemical substance is highly harmful to health; formaldehyde has now been classified as a carcinogen.

Advantages
  • Moisture repellent
  • Good adhesion
Disadvantages
  • Not suitable for allergy sufferers
  • Considerable health risk

What are the advantages and disadvantages of an MDF board with primer film?

An MDF board with an additional priming film enables easy lacquering because the priming film is made of high-quality noble cellulose. Priming foils can be applied to particleboard, hardboard or MDF.

Advantages
  • Easy to paint over
  • Can be used on many substrates
  • Can also be used as a backing material
Disadvantages
  • Dry out quickly
  • Become brittle after some time
  • Susceptible to heat

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate MDF boards

We have formulated the following buying criteria for you:

  • Coating
  • Density/thickness
  • Intended use
  • Additional capability

We will now explain in more detail what is important in the individual criteria.

Coating

MDF boards can be purchased already coated, which has the advantage that you do not have to do it yourself and the MDF board has already been professionally coated.

Density/thickness

In addition to medium-density fibreboard, there are two other variants of pressed wood panels:

MDF board

We have already discussed MDF in detail at the beginning of this guide.

HDF board

Due to its high density of at least 800 kg/m³, HDF board is mostly used in laminate flooring. Due to the high density, HDF boards have an enormous bending strength and a strong tensile strength. Furthermore, HDF boards are sealed on the surface, which facilitates veneering, printing and lacquering.

Ul-MDF board

Ultra Light MDF board has the same capabilities as MDF board, the only difference being that it weighs less and has a lower load capacity.

Intended use

You don't buy an untreated MDF board without a reason. Depending on the intended use and preferences, the board should be selected. If the board is to be used as floor support, it makes sense to choose an HDF board over an MDF board.

Additional capability

The MDF boards can be given additional properties, e.g. fire protection, moisture resistance, resistance to biological attack, by changing the composition of the synthetic binder or by adding other additives. The price varies depending on the additive.

Facts worth knowing about MDF board

What do I have to pay attention to when laminating my MDF board?

The foiling of MDF boards is basically relatively simple, only the corners and edges can cause problems for some hobbyists. The following video shows you how to master these without any problems.

How do I paint my MDF board correctly?

In the next 5 steps you will learn how to paint the MDF board correctly.

  1. Preparation: First, the MDF board must be thoroughly cleaned and sanded. It is best to clean the boards with a silicone and grease cleaner. Before priming, wipe the boards again, as the boards must be absolutely clean.
  2. Priming the MDF boards: Now apply the insulating primer with a foam paint roller. These paint rollers achieve a painted surface that looks as if it has been varnished. This way you will have to sand much less later. After painting the MDF panels, allow the insulating primer to dry completely.
  3. Sand primed MDF boards: After the boards have dried completely, sand them again. It is best to use fine-grit sandpaper for this. After sanding, the boards should be cleaned again.
  4. Paint the MDF boards: Now you can paint the MDF boards. Either with a spray gun or alternatively you can use a foam roller.
  5. Lacquer the MDF boards with transparent top coat: Now that the lacquer has dried, you can apply another coat of clear lacquer. You can also apply this with a spray gun or foam roller.

How can I screw my MDF board correctly?

If you want to screw your MDF board together, there are a few things you should bear in mind. MDF boards can be screwed together just like any other wooden object.

You should be aware that MDF boards are sensitive, which is why a screw should never be screwed in directly.

Therefore, always pre-drill MDF boards first! Pre-drilling prevents the board from cracking when the screw is screwed in. Alternatively, you can use wooden dowels into which you then screw the appropriate screws

What can I do if my MDF board smells badly?

Wooden objects tend to have a strong smell, especially when they are new, which can be perceived as unpleasant by some people. With MDF boards, there is also the formaldehyde glue. This chemical substance has a very intense smell. So what can be done to counteract the smell?

Home remedies such as coffee or baking soda, which you are sure to find in your pantry, work best against unpleasant odours. (Image source: unsplash.com / Francis Kwadwo)

One way to stop emissions from MDF is to enclose it in paint or varnish. This way, the bad smell can be masked. If you don't want to varnish the MDF board, you can use common household remedies such as coffee or baking soda to neutralise the smell. Rubbing in vinegar also helps against the penetrating odour. In the case of strong acrid odours, the manufacturer should be contacted, as a strong acrid odour may indicate that too much formaldehyde has been used. This can be very harmful to health.

Image source: unsplash.com / Greyson Joralemon

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