Working with MDF: The DIYers Guide 

Updated May 13, 2024 | Posted Jun 2, 2023 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 0 comments

DIY has become a really popular hobby in the last few years and this has paved the way for DIY influencers who share their projects whether this is transforming an entire house or simply upcycling an old piece of furniture.

Today, it is easier than ever before to find inspo and tutorials to follow, DIY has become pretty accessible and lots of us are getting in on the act! There are a few skills that any DIYer worth their salt need to have, and one of them really should be working with MDF. It has so many applications, and it is fairly easy to work with, too – which is part of the reason why it is popular among both professionals and hobbyists too. Let’s get into it. 

MDF: A Background 

MDF is a wood product, but it is manmade, unlike other wood products. Medium-density fibreboard is engineered by repurposing waste products from sawmills and turning them into a wood product in their own right. The wood dust and shavings are combined with resin and wax before being heated, compressed and cut into shape to produce boards or panels of MDF. Interestingly, because of the way, it is created – using byproducts, MDF is already pretty sustainable, it reduces waste, and it is an example of recycling which is why it is considered to be fairly green.  

Why Choose MDF? 

MDF is often chosen over other materials because it is one of the most cost-effective options, which is ideal for DIY enthusiasts. It is also pretty stable, and unlike solid wood, it doesn’t react to humidity or temperature changes. It is also pretty user-friendly, and it is smooth, making it easy to paint, which is why it is often chosen for projects like wall panelling, where the end goal is to paint over it anyway. There is no wood grain, knots or splinters either, which means that cutting detailed designs and working with it in terms of drilling and nailing is also pretty straightforward.  

Types of MDF 

MDF comes in different thicknesses; depending on your needs, you can find sheets as thin as 3mm or boards as thick as 50mm. Other than that, there are a few different types: 

  • Standard MDF 
  • Primed MDF  
  • Veneered MDF 
  • Beaded MDF 
  • Moisture resistant MDF  
  • Fire-proof MDF  
  • Exterior Grade MDF 

Your choice will depend on your project and what roles it needs to fulfil.  

Common Uses 

When it comes to DIY projects, there are a few common uses of MDF. It is a great option for anything that requires a smooth finish, and it is really easy to paint too. A lot of DIYers use it for things like: 

  • Building furniture 
  • Panelling 
  • Cabinetry  
  • Shelving  
  • Doors  
  • Baseboards 
  • Dado rails 
  • Door frames 

It is a really versatile material, and because it is fairly cheap to procure, it is a great choice for DIY.  

Purchase Options 

MDF does come in a few different forms which is ideal. Depending on the project, you will know what you need. Some projects will require a sheet which you then cut to scale yourself; others will need smaller, slimmer panels. If you have a specific project in mind, it might make sense to take the measurements and work out the dimensions before using an MDF cutting service like the one provided by Cworkshop. It eliminates the guesswork on your end and makes for a much easier installation process; they also have a range of choices in MDF to consider too. 

A Word of Warning 

MDF is great for DIY projects, but there are a couple of things that you will need to factor in. Firstly, it is somewhat prone to water damage – especially if it hasn’t been treated. This means it can soak up liquids which will cause it to swell over time and even warp. It can also be more delicate than solid wood. If you are using veneered MDF and you manage to chip off the veneer, then it can be tricky and more labour-intensive to repair.  

Whilst it is easy to work with because it has a lower density which makes it weaker than solid wood, it will likely require special screws or nails if you want to guarantee a good finish, although if you are only using wood glue, then this is not going to be a problem. Lastly, because of its chemical composition, it can release toxic fumes when cut, which means you really should be wearing safety gear when cutting the MDF to size – although if you are ordering it already cut to size, then this won’t be an issue.  

To Conclude 

MDF is a great material for DIY projects, and it has long since been favoured by enthusiasts. If you have a project in your home, it is well worth considering using MDF – if it makes sense to do so, of course. It is incredibly versatile and has a number of potential uses inside your home. If you are a novice at DIY, it is worth looking up some inspo online and trying to find tutorials that you can follow to see what materials they have used and what methods they have used.  

Updated May 13, 2024 | Posted Jun 2, 2023 | 0 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.


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