Quick poll

Last week, my wife and I were watching the DIY Network, when the builder during one of those ‘renovations gone wrong’ type shows came in to help the homeowner.

She helped patch the crumbling brick walls in the 120 year old townhouse, laid down a wooden floor – and built a bookshelf system entirely of MDF. Sides, shelves, top, bottom.. the works.

Knowing the properties of MDF, would you ever build an entire bookshelf system for a home solely out of the material?

[poll id=”160″]

10 thoughts on “Quick poll”

  1. Sure I would, if it was a built-in and paint grade book shelf. Because we can’t afford to use wood for our trim, it’s all done in MDF (1×4 and 1×6 for a simple Arts and Crafts look). Would I build fine furniture entirely out of MDF? NO. But, I did make a quick five piece “credenza” for my little brother years ago from MDF for his record collection. He was living in apartments and needed something to house his collection that could be somewhat easily moved. So, this had three simple boxes that would house in a bottom and the top went over the three boxes to keep them tightly together. I filled the edges of the MDF with sheetrock mud, let it dry, primed and painted the individual pieces with black enamel spray paint. He STILL loves that POS and it has move quite a few times with him.

  2. I chose only if there were no other options. I built a painted bookcase for my daughter that had a lot of MDF, but the shelving was wood as welll as the face frame and moldings. IMHO wood is a better choice than MDF for certain components of a bookcase.

  3. Yes I would. The closet shelf unit I made for my wife and I in our last house was nothing more than a book shelf that held clothes, and it was made entirely out of MDF. It was cheap to buy, easy to mill and looked fine once it was painted.

  4. Never. You can buy that kind of stuff really cheap. MDF is good for anything which will never be touched or have to support anything. Speaker boxes, decorative things hanging on the wall and patterns for router work come to mind.

  5. I have used MDF for large painted customer projects, bookcases, mantels and built ins.
    Works great for painted raised panels. Very stable and when sanded and primed well you can’t tell it from real wood. Dust is a problem, wear a good mask.

  6. I think the most important thing is to ask what are you building. In some cases MDF is a great material to use. When used properly it can be strong and if painted look very good when it is finished.

    I think we should all remember than in the future when wood becomes more expensive and hard to find we may all be using Veneer. MDF is a great substrate for Veneer. Don’t get me wrong, my furniture is made of real wood but I have build some good looking book cases that I am equally proud of.

  7. MDF sags under weight… If the span is short enough and the MDF thick enough it would be OK to use… However, if you have a long span you need to either use an alternate material, or you need to reinforce the MDF with another material.

    Personally I don’t use it for structural components. I’ll use it for trim. moldings, wainscoting etc. Plywood is a much better material for structural components.

  8. Re the “sags” under weight comment, there are web sites that can compute sag of various materials under weight. I just put in a shelf with a 4 foot span with a load of 12lbs per foot, and the sag came out at .17 inches, almost the same as birch ply. It also ranked the sag as “acceptable” which is the highest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.