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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...
-Christopher
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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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Old 01-11-2019, 12:11 PM   #11
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Just my opinion. MDF and OSB have no value for building anything.



A form of osb both advatech and dri max have a replacement warranty of 365 and 500 day rain exposure far superior to that of marine plywood or p/t plywood.MDF has no use in a bus and the people who make it will tell you that. I have however built furniture for people of MDF not to be confused with particle board with good long lasting results. I installed some white Thermofoil covered cabinets when I built our house the cabinet company replaced the doors 2 times in 3 years due to the Thermofoil separating from the door, got tired of replacing the doors built 34 new shaker style doors from MDF painted them with auto enamel, that was 4 years ago and they still look great. OSB is great for things like home sheathing, wind bracing and the like. Like everything else using a material for an unintended use usually results in poor results. Gene
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Old 01-15-2019, 08:47 AM   #12
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Thanks everyone! No MDF then, free stuff isn't worth the trouble down the line.
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Old 01-15-2019, 03:00 PM   #13
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There's one in every crowd

I'll probably have more than one item made partially of mdf somewhere in my bus. I prefer it for veneering, some counter tops, some furniture parts. It has a wonderfully flat surface - flatter than any other substrate (when it's dry). It's must stay dry or its doomed. Joinery is doable if you understand what mdf is capable of. The weight is ridiculous, which can be a plus if you want the piece to stay fixed to the floor. On a bus, in big chunks, mdf wouldn't be something you'd want a lot of.



Most of the time, it seems that better choices are available. IMO
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Old 01-15-2019, 03:39 PM   #14
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smooth plywood

if you want a smooth plywood surface that is water resistant, holds paint and/or stain very well, I would suggest plywood sign board - in some circles it's referred to as 'MDO' or 'Crezone' - it is water resistant plywood with a resin surface - comes in several thicknesses and can be coated on one or two sides - lasts far longer than normal plywood exposed to the worst elements and paint stays looking good for years longer than it would on normal plywood - when I make something for the house or trailer that needs to be painted, it's what I use

https://www.homedepot.com/p/1-2-in-x...3583/206460868
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Old 01-15-2019, 04:14 PM   #15
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Good stuff. I am still using a fairly large sign that was made from MDO must be about 40 years ago now. Lived its' whole life outdoors and still looks great. Been repainted a few times with different biz names but is on my studio now.
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