How to Avoid Complications When Using MDF

MDF provides the perfect budget friendly option as a material for many of your home improvement projects. From kitchen cupboard doors to custom furniture, the versatility of MDF is wide ranging.

However, to ensure longevity and the best quality finish for your MDF projects, there are a few guidelines to follow.

Board Type

It is well known that MDF can soak up water, causing swelling of the board. This is due to the internal make up of MDF compared to the solidity of standard wood.

This can understandably deter some from using MDF, yet such problems are easily avoidable. By choosing the right type of board for the specific project you have, MDF can be protected from moisture.

It is all in the type of board you choose; for example by selecting moisture resistant boards for use in high humidity environments. This means the boards are protected from moisture in environments such as kitchens and bathrooms. Though, to be clear, these boards are not water resistant, so some swelling may occur if in direct contact with water and why it’s vital to use MDF in an appropriate context – for example, it is best for interior DIY projects.

For exterior projects, be sure to purchase MDF designed to standard building regulations and are for outdoor environments.


Whilst you can use your own tools to cut and finish your MDF boards, care should be taken as harmful fibres can easily be released from the board during the process, so it is essential to wear suitable protection and undertake such tasks in a well-ventilated area.

Better still, to alleviate this problem all together and achieve a high quality finish, it is recommended to use a professional MDF cutting service. These services use technology which ensures a seamless finish, free from chips and irregularities.

Moreover, choosing a professionally cut or drilled boards will enhance the overall look as it provides a clean and smooth finish when applying paints which also helps to further protect the boards from potential damage.

Project Use

Choose wisely when selecting which projects will best suit MDF as the material. For example, if you’re hoping for a natural grain and stained look, MDF is not the material to use as it can’t be stained and isn’t a solid piece of wood. However, you can purchase wood veneered boards which will achieve a similar effect.

MDF is ideal for many indoor DIY projects such as kitchen cabinets, internal doors, furniture, shelving etc. The smooth surface is a great good choice for simple interior design pieces with a painted finish.

If you would prefer not to have to finish your MDF boards with paint, there are an extensive range of pre-finished boards; you can select the finish you are looking to achieve – from different colours to veneered finishes.

If your project is for an outdoor environment, there are also specifically designed exterior boards which are suitably for such uses. Be sure to choose a board which offers a durability guarantee and is fungal resistant.

Standard MDF is heavy which can make it less appealing for certain design projects. However, this shouldn’t stop you, as there are lightweight boards available. For example, these types of boards are popular for use in theatre set or event furniture.