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MDF wood vs Plywood: which material is best for your home furniture

  • Furniture
Dec 04, 2021
Furniture designs to enhance your home interiors - Beautiful Homes

Have you ever come across the various types of material such as Particleboard, MDF and BWP Plywood? While every material has its advantages, each varies from price to quality to durability. Let’s find out more!

Furnishing your home adds warmth and character making it your comfort zone. Modular furniture homes give just that effortless switch to accommodate trendy designs. They have become increasingly sought after options as they are environmentally friendly solutions. Recent studies show that modular furniture for homes has less wastage and material requirements during the building process. Speaking of materials for bedroom, the following are options most often used in projects, and for very good reasons: Concrete, Natural slate and Engineered Wood which include High density fiberboard, MDF, plywood. While thinking of modular furniture homes the most preferable choices that come to mind are MDF or Plywood.


There are different types of engineered wood available in the market like plywood, MDF board and MDF sheet, high-density fiberboard, particleboard, etc. Plywood and MDF are both engineered wood products popularly used for home décor and furniture making. However, When we compare MDF vs plywood, both have their own pros and cons. Confused, what would work best for you? Don't you worry as we have made an exhaustive list to help you make a choice that best suits your needs.

What is MDF? (Board/Wood)

Medium Density Fiberboard or MDF is a flat panel that is manufactured by glueing organic wooden fibres with resin and wax in a process that uses high temperature and pressure.


It's a type of engineered wood that is extensively used in the manufacturing of flat-pack furniture. MDF comes in many varieties and grains that vary in price depending on the material size, thickness, the glue used, and the wood species used to manufacture it.

Mdf board & wood to enhance your home furniture - Beautiful Homes
Plywood material for your home furniture designs - Beautiful Homes

What is Plywood?

Plywood is a sheet material that is brought to life by combining layers of wood veneer, which are glued together. The adjacent layers have their wood grains rotated up to 90 degrees to one another. All plywood materials are bound resin and wood fibres sheets to form a composite material. The alteration of the grain is known as Cross-graining. It reduces the tendency of wood to split when nailed in at the edges. It reduces expansion and shrinkage and makes the panel strong in all directions. It can be used in many different ways, including plywood furniture, plywood for cabinets, doors, tabletops, and wall panelling. 

When building with plywood, the option to stain and finish the surface is a great option to enhance your project's aesthetics. Staining plywood requires the use of special gel stains, but by preconditioning the wood you can use any wood stain. This allows your finished product to have a uniform colour, even if it is made of several types of wood.


MDF Wood vs Plywood: Which Material is Best for your Home Furniture?





1. Constituents

MDF board is made from hardwood and softwood fibres mixed with resin and adhesives.

Plywood is a wooden panel; made by stacking several thin layers of wood veneers over each other.

2. Structure

MDF is an engineered wood composite and is uniform, smooth and free of knots.

Plywood sheet is made from thin layers of wood. An odd number of layers with grains of adjacent layers are placed at right angles to each other. Face veneers are higher grade than the core veneers.

3. Strength & durability

When compared with plywood, MDF has less strength and durability.

MDF material is softer than plywood and tends to sag or split under pressure.

When it comes to strength, plywood is the winner.

It has high strength as well as durability owing to its cross laminated structure.

Plywood material has more flex than MDF, so you can gently bend it to create curves and it won’t expand, contract, or warp, even under temperature extremes.

4. Workability

Because of MDF’s non-directional structure of grain, it is perfect for machining, cutting and penetrating without creating fragments or chipping.

The nonappearance of bunches makes it simpler for wrapping up.

MDF for furniture and interior design pieces is perfect because it takes paint like a champ owing to its smooth surface and lack of grain.

By contrast, due to its stacked construction, the edges of the plywood are rough and not well suited to fancy curves or cuts. Even straight cuts can turn out ragged edges.

While you can paint plywood, higher-grade plywood looks great with a stain, due to its solid-wood-like grain and finish.

5. Cost

In general, an MDF board price is less than the plywood price. While the cost depends on the thickness and grade of the material, in general, the board price is based on the average MDF cost.

High grade plywood price are more expensive as they are more aesthetically pleasing, often displaying natural hardwood or softwood grains.

6. Weight

MDF is light in weight when compared with plywood.

It is comparatively heavier.


Advantages of MDF

  • MDF board price  is normally more inexpensive than plywood cost.

  • The surface of MDF is very smooth, and you don’t have to worry about knots on the surface.

  • It’s an excellent surface for painting.

  • Using MDF for cabinets is a great choice.

  • Moreover, because of its smoothness, MDF is a fantastic substitute for Veneer.
Fancy chair designs for your house interiors - Beautiful Homes
  • MDF is very uniform throughout, so cut edges appear smooth and won’t have voids or fragments.

  • The texture and smoothness of MDF permit easy cutting of detailed designs.


Disadvantages of MDF

  • MDF can soak up water and other liquids and swell unless it’s nicely sealed on all sides and edges.

  • Because it consists of such fine particles, MDF doesn’t hold screws very well, and it’s very quick to strip the screw holes.

  • MDF is very heavy due to its density.  This can make it more difficult to work with.

  • MDF contains VOCs (urea-formaldehyde). Off-gassing can be greatly minimized (but probably not eliminated) if the MDF is encapsulated with primer, paint, etc., though care needs to be taken while cutting and sanding to avoid inhalation of the particles.


Advantages of Plywood

  • As it consists of layers of wood veneer with the grain on each layer running in a different direction, plywood for furniture is preferred owing to its very strong building material.

  • It’s less prone to water damage than MDF, and won’t soak up water and swell as fast or quickly as MDF.

  • It’s not stainable, which makes it ideal for kitchen cabinets, tabletops, and other projects where you want a large stained wood surface.

  • It holds screws very tightly since the variable grains of wood on each layer give the screws something to hold onto.

  • While most plywood does have urea-formaldehyde and other VOCs, it is now attainable to purchase plywood without formaldehyde. 


Disadvantages of Plywood

  • Plywood price is steeper than MDF cost.  And obviously, the higher the grade, and the more special the species of wood, the more expensive it gets.

  • Plywood will often splinter on the edges when cut, so it’s harder to get a smooth cut with plywood than it is with MDF.

  • It’s more challenging to cut detailed designs into plywood (scrolled, scalloped, etc.) because the edges will splinter, and then you’re left with edges that show layers and might possibly have voids in some places.

  • Due to the layers that show on the edge, one has to finish off the edges somehow.  This can be accomplished with iron-on edge banding or with pieces of lumber or decorative moulding.

  • Like MDF, most plywoods comprise urea-formaldehyde and other VOCs which can off-gas into your house. One should take safeguards while cutting.
Wooden furniture to enhance your home interiors - Beautiful Homes

Both MDF and plywood are high-quality materials that are excellent for a number of different projects including furniture for modular homes. The key is to understand where and how they individually excel and then utilise them in that capacity. Depending on the criteria you prioritize for your home, we at Asian Paints Beautiful Homes have got the practical experience that can line up with your needs, to make sure you’re choosing a material that optimizes your results and gives you the furniture that compliments your dream house.


For inspiration on how to use both products, you can book a consultation with us. Our Modular homes come with ample customization opportunities, and you can make every nook and cranny serve a purpose.

From accessories to material, MDF and plywood cost, to the utility of the furniture, we take care of it all.


Our current stores are spread across Amritsar, Tumakuru, Raipur, Jaipur, New Delhi, Kochi, Karur, Coimbatore, Bengaluru and Nashik. In addition, we are in the process of opening up state-of-the-art stores across several cities.


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