What is the difference between MDF and MFC?

MFC stands for ‘melamine faced chipboard’ and the vast majority of office furniture is manufactured with this material. There are a number of thicknesses used, but typically the industry standard is 25mm thick. Some budget ranges are 18mm thick. Most people think of the low grade, unattractive material favoured by high street furniture stores in the 1980’s, but todays MFC has come on a long way. Essentially MFC is either of a real wood grain, which is repeatedly printed onto a Melamine film, and heat processed onto a sheet of chipboard.

The quality of that chipboard mainly depends on the density of the board. Many domestic furniture uses low density board, which is light. Most commercial grade furniture is made of a dense board – as it stops flexing and bending. The finished board is then cut to shape and size, edged with a banding machine to protect the edges.

These panels can then be used to make furniture – and it’s used in desks, workstations, cupboards and pedestals. The colours available vary from factory to factory. There are some common finishes that are used, and whilst they all tend to be the same grain pattern, they can vary from source in shade and grain pattern. MFC is available in a large number of plain colours as well, and special finishes too.

MDF, or medium density fiberboard, is a kind of particleboard that is made from composite wood. Specifically, MDF is made from wood waste (specifically the fibers) that are glued together using either heat, resin or pressure. Originally invented in the 1960s, the usage of medium density fiberboard has expanded into all areas of construction. MDF is a very versatile building material that can be used in a variety of applications. This includes making cabinets and mouldings. MDF’s characteristics include being smooth and resistance to warping.

While similar to other compressed products, such as particle board or hardboard, MDF board offers superior qualities.

MDF is a better material compared to other popular materials like particleboard, wood planks or high density fiberboard for a number of reasons. First, MDF has a very smooth texture mainly because wood fibers used in making the MDF are also smooth and fine. MDF is also a great material when being sawed because the cut portion is smooth immediately after being sawed, as opposed to leaving jagged edges when using other materials, for example, planks of wood. MDF also takes well to painting. Putting on a primer and a couple of coats of paint will leave a nice finished surface, which does not happen with other composite wood products. MDF also has minimal reaction to moisture. This means MDF will not warp or swell when used in environments that have a high humidity.

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