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Old 01-10-2019, 04:58 PM   #1
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MDF versus Wood furniture?

Hi everyone,

I've been searching for certain elements for my bus online (Craigslist, Kijiji, market) as well as in store (restore, Ikea,etc) and I wanted opinions on materials.

I'm considering some pieces pre fab (kitchen counter and cabinets, additional clothing /tech storage.)

Things I'm curious about:
Does MDF have enough flex for bus travel?
Can MDF cope with fluctuating temperatures?
Is MDF resistant to moisture?
General opinions on MDF vs wood for skoolies.

I have a link on some perfectly dimensioned furniture that is Free. Hard to pass that up but will if it might cause issues down the line.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-10-2019, 05:10 PM   #2
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The "F" in MDF stands for Fiberboard. Not anything I would want to ever be exposed to any moisture.


That said...there is supposedly such a thing as "waterproof MDF". But from what I understand it is crazy expensive.



My personal favorite is marine ply. More $ than regular ply up front but worth it to my mind. Especially for flooring. Since everything else will be built on top of it, I want the floor as stable and moisture proof as possible.
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Old 01-10-2019, 05:19 PM   #3
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I wouldn't use MDF, personally. It's basically high-grade cardboard. It's heavy and it absorbs moisture so it'll split and delaminate. Doesn't do great with vibrations either, I would suspect. If its for furniture that's easily replaceable then go for it I guess....but I definitely wouldn't want it for kitchen cabinets or anything that might be exposed to moisture. IMO it's no better than particle board.
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:36 AM   #4
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Agree MDF is not well suited because of moisture. Buses are usually not as well climate controlled as a house, and MDF does not like humidity. It will swell and start coming apart over time.

All the cabinets in my pickup truck camper are MDF and all show some swelling.
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Old 01-11-2019, 08:20 AM   #5
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my florida apartment had MDF cabinets in it.. that place was a year old when I rented it.. was on the st pete bay.. of course nicely A/C'd and all but even while I was living in it only its 2nd year of existence the cabinets were startimg to de laminate already...
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Old 01-11-2019, 08:32 AM   #6
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I've got subwoofer enclosures that are decades old and they're made of mdf. They seem to hold up pretty well in FL.
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Old 01-11-2019, 09:03 AM   #7
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MDF is heavier than wood but less strong. It is particularly bad with screws and joints. If you're building with MDF and want it to be strong you need to use something like a biscuit joint or dowel and reinforce any 90 degree joints (I recommend reinforcing those even if you're doing real wood too). Great for speaker boxes but MDF furniture falls apart so fast in an apartment I wouldn't consider it in a bus.
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Old 01-11-2019, 09:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brokedown View Post
MDF is heavier than wood but less strong. It is particularly bad with screws and joints. If you're building with MDF and want it to be strong you need to use something like a biscuit joint or dowel and reinforce any 90 degree joints (I recommend reinforcing those even if you're doing real wood too). Great for speaker boxes but MDF furniture falls apart so fast in an apartment I wouldn't consider it in a bus.
quite correct.
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:38 AM   #9
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Had a customer who worked in a lumber yard.He "inherited a bunk of 3/4" MDF he wind braced a house he was building with it. He tyvek'd the whole place and sided it with "Craneboard Siding" very expensive custom foam lined siding.There was a low water flood where 6" of water surrounded the house the MDF was never dampened he called me to get a piece of equipment started. When I got there the corners of the house did not meet any more as the MDF had swollen to 3 1/2 inches thick.Probably the worst "free" material anyone ever got. No MDF in my bus.!!!!!! Gene
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:44 AM   #10
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Just my opinion. MDF and OSB have no value for building anything.
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