MDF vs. Plywood – which is better?

Almost all furniture is made from different kinds of woods, such as wardrobes, vanity tables, kitchen cabinets and other carcasses. When the majority of our houses has some sort of wooden fixtures and furniture, it becomes imperative that we pay special attention to the type of wood we are choosing. Two of the most popular types of wood in the market right now are plywood and MDF. In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of each type of wood so that you are make your decision carefully. What is Plywood? Many people are acquainted with plywood since it was the most popular type of wood before MDF. Plywood is a form of generated wood material and manufactured by gluing multiple layers of veneer. Each layer of veneer is glued perpendicular to the previous layers to add strength and stability to the material. Plywood is available in nearly all wood species like oak, maple, Douglas fir, etc. Pros

  • Sustainability – due to multiple layers of veneer in plywood, it is strong and less likely to be damaged for a long time.
  • Easy to Work with – plywood is good for bigger projects like, doors and kitchen cabinets where you don’t need to add details.
  • Stainable – you can easily paint the surface of plywood to add colors and various tones to your furniture.
  • Formaldehyde Free – most plywood contains urea-formaldehyde that emits toxic fumes on cutting but there are now formaldehyde free plywood available in the market.


  • Difficult to cut – because plywood is made from layers of veneer, it usually splinters on edges, making it difficult to cut.
  • Expensive – plywood is available in higher and lower grades which uses the best and mediocre wood species, respectively. This makes it more expensive than regular wood and MDF.
  • Unsuitable for decorative purposes – it is really hard to cut detailed designs into plywood which makes it unsuitable for decorative furniture.
  • Needs Edge Banding – the many layers of plywood shows at the edges that’s why it needs iron or lumber molding to seal the edges.

What is MDF? MDF stands for Medium Density Fiberboard and is a type of generated wood. Fine wood fibers mixed with resins and glue are joined together under high temperature and pressure to manufacture MDF. It is known for its strength and versatility. Wardrobe carcasses manufacturers use MDF extensively to make cabinets, wardrobes, etc. Pros

  • Easier to Cut – MDF has a specially smooth surface which makes it easier to cut since it does not splinters and creates gaps.
  • Suitable for Decorative Details – due to its smooth surface, you can add various decorative details to MDF. This provides versatility of design when manufacturing furniture.
  • Inexpensive – one major advantage of choosing MDF is that it’s cheaper than plywood and other wood species.


  • Moisture Damages – MDF is highly susceptible to water damages, it soaks up all the moisture in the air and swells up, leaving it disfigured.
  • Heavy – due to its higher density, MDF is heavy in weight. It is unsuitable for big projects and DIYs.
  • Does not Hold Screws – MDF is made of fine wood fibers which does not have a proper mass, resulting in loose screw holes.
  • Emits Fumes – MDF contains formaldehyde which emits toxic fumes that are dangerous for health.