The Pros And Cons Of Putting MDF Cabinets In Your Home

Many people turn to MDF wood (the MDF stands for medium-density fiberboard) when looking for an alternative to solid wood. Falling under the category of engineered wood, it's extremely common to find the material in furniture items that have the appearance of wood without the cost of actually buying a solid wood item. There's plenty to like about MDF, such as the fact it's super easy to paint, hard and dense, and less likely to warp when compared to other wood alternatives like particleboard.

However, various cons come with MDF cabinets. These include susceptibility to scratches that can't be repaired, being prone to damage from water exposure, and MDF being linked to potential health issues. The affordable wood alternative can be an excellent choice for saving on kitchen cabinets and achieving a wood look on a budget, but it isn't suitable for all projects. We've got you covered with all of the key pros and cons of MDF cabinets, so you know if it's the right material for you.

MDF cabinets are a solid bet for several reasons

As mentioned, the many pros of MDF make it a tremendous option for cabinets. First up, the look. Though unpainted MDF isn't much to look at, it offers major benefits if you're a fan of DIY-ing and constantly switching up the aesthetics of your kitchen. MDF's naturally smooth surface makes painting your kitchen cabinets an easy process without the annoyance of lumps or bumps. In terms of aesthetics, you can purchase MDF cabinets with panels or molding already built in to bring something extra to your kitchen or bathroom.

Another major plus of MDF is that it isn't likely to warp. This is a huge plus if you're worried about your cabinets losing shape over time. MDF is also considered a dense material, and its hard surface means it takes knocks well. Moreover, it is inexpensive. It will typically cost between $450 and $620 to install an MDF cabinet unit, including installation, which means you can then extend your budget elsewhere. MDF is also simple to clean, as you only need a microfiber cloth, some water, and some mild detergent to get it looking new once more. 

It's important to keep the following in mind before taking the plunge

As with any cabinet material, the cons of MDF should also be considered. The biggest downside of MDF cabinets is that scratches will show up and be noticeable. You also won't be able to get rid of the scratches via usual methods like sanding (as you could with solid wood). Plus, though some people like the smooth look of MDF cabinets, the lack of wood grain in their appearance means they may not be the best choice if your aim is to emulate solid wood. Moreover, while MDF cabinets are dense, this doesn't mean they won't be affected by water. In fact, if you spill a large amount of liquid, it's likely to be absorbed by your cabinets and (rarely) cause warping.

In terms of health, the process of making MDF emits formaldehyde gas, which is a substance known to cause cancer (although, per the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the odds are very low). Being exposed to formaldehyde can additionally cause skin irritation and asthma-like symptoms.  While this applies more to people who work day in and day out with MDF, it's still something to be aware of. Overall, MDF cabinets are a solid option if you want a sleek look on a budget, but always weigh up the pros and cons of a material to ensure you're picking the right material for your home.