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MDF: characteristics, description, properties

MDF: characteristics, description, properties

When planning a renovation or purchase of furniture, you always want to learn more about existing materials, their advantages and disadvantages. With comprehensive information, it is easier to understand for what operating conditions certain things are intended, calculate the approximate service life and make an informed choice. This article will focus on MDF, a substitute for solid wood, which is often confused with particle boards. With a number of advantages, which will be described below, this material is excellent for construction, interior decoration, furniture, doors and decor..

What is MDF?

The abbreviation MDF is a transliteration of the English term Medium Density Fibreboard, which means “medium density fiber board”.

This material consists of compressed crushed sawdust mixed with binders. It is produced in sheets with a thickness of 3 mm to 6 cm. Furniture, construction and finishing elements, packaging and other things are made of fibreboards. In fact, it is an inexpensive wood substitute made from waste from the forest industry..

It is much easier to process MDF than natural boards, moreover, it does not dry out, does not crack, retains heat perfectly and has good sound insulating properties. Compared to particle boards, this material is more environmentally friendly, as it contains much less formaldehyde resins..

The disadvantages of MDF include instability to moisture and mechanical stress, as well as rapid flammability. The service life of MDF products under normal conditions is about 10 years.

How MDF panels are made

Sometimes MDF is deciphered as “fine wood fraction” and this is not a mistake at all.

The fact is that for the production of this material, raw materials (chips, shavings, sawdust) are thoroughly crushed, turning them almost into dust. To do this, they are first heated with steam to 100 ° C and brought to a humidity of 80%, after which they are placed in a defibrator and ground. Melamine-modified urea-formaldehyde resins and paraffin are added to the pulp. Then all this is dried for several seconds with hot air at an average temperature of 200 ° C and enters the tamping hopper..

The resulting mixture is leveled with a roller along the conveyor, forming a continuous plate. Then a press with a pressure of 350 MPa is lowered from above and the material is heated to 230 ° C. Under this influence, it is alloyed, compacted and gains strength. Subsequently, the pressure is reduced by about three times, and the sheet thickness is adjusted without heating..

The cooled strip is ground and cut into slabs with a saw. At the last stage, a decorative coating is applied..

How MDF panels are made

Types of MDF panels

Medium density fiber boards, which are used for the production of furniture and front finishing of premises, depending on the type of decorative coating, are divided into laminated, painted and veneered.

Laminated

Lamination means hot gluing any decorative material on the MDF surface. It can be tar paper, melamine, and most often pvc film. The facing material adheres tightly to the base under the press, which ensures high aesthetics of the boards for the entire period of use. There is a huge number of laminate textures – stone, leather, ivory, various fabrics, but the most popular are wood imitations..

Painted

The use of modern paints and varnishes over the leveling layer of the primer makes it possible to make sparkling mirror-gloss or noble matte panels from grayish MDF sheets. Such processing is often used for kitchen furniture (which is important to protect from moisture), as well as other interior elements in the Art Nouveau, hi-tech and minimalism style..

Veneered

Veneer is a thin, beautiful cut of natural wood. It is glued to the slab, giving it a complete external resemblance to the original. Veneered MDF panels are used for the manufacture of doors, walls, chests of drawers and a huge number of other things..

In general, this is probably the most expensive type of finish, although the cost depends on the quality of the coating itself. It looks and feels like real wood, sometimes even rare, unusual species.

Types of MDF panels

Properties and characteristics of MDF panels

Fiber boards are no less popular in the modern world than natural boards. There are a number of reasons for this, namely:

– strength – there is no air between the fibers of the pressed sheets, so the material does not crack or crumble, it keeps its shape for a long time;

– ease of processing, including decorative – it is easy to cut out any figures from MDF, cut out volumetric decorations and even give it soft curves using a special technology;

– a large selection of topcoats, which allows you to find the ideal option for any interior.

After impregnation with special substances, lamination with film or coating with latex water-repellent paint, MDF can be used even in damp rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens. Products with the E1 marking are allowed for use in living rooms (this means that 100 grams of the stove emit no more than 10 mg of formaldehyde, that is, the norm permissible according to sanitary rules). In any case, there are several times more harmful fumes from chipboard.

MDF panels are of class I (without flaws) and II (minor aesthetic imperfections, irregularities or slightly larger blotches are possible).

MDF panels in the interior

MDF application

Furniture

Products made of medium density fiberboard are a real find for everyone who wants to furnish their home, office or public institution with beautiful and high-quality furniture for a relatively low price..

As a rule, MDF is used for cabinet options – cabinets, headsets, shelves, tables, bedside tables, dressers made of this material look very modern and perfectly fulfill their functions..

However, it often forms the basis of sofas, armchairs, beds. Covered with laminate or veneer, with embossed patterns or interestingly painted, MDF furniture will help create a cozy and warm atmosphere anywhere.

Construction and repair

MDF perfectly copes with the role of a universal substitute for wood and in the arrangement of buildings. Such slabs are used to make beams, partitions, sheathe ceilings with them, insulate walls, make plinths, corners, door frames, doors, stairs, railings and window sills.

But where you should not use such panels is on the floor (they are quite soft and can deform), as well as in outdoor decoration and in rooms with very high humidity.

Cutting out any shape or sawing out a pattern from MDF is not difficult even for those who have never worked with wood and do not have special machines. This activity is somewhat reminiscent of drywall processing..

When manipulating MDF, it is worth remembering that it does not allow the reusable use of screws and nails. If you need to make such a fastening, holes are first drilled in the material, and then the elements are connected using bolts and nuts.

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