MDF or medium density fibreboard has been around since the 1980’s and just like every other new technology of it’s time it took awhile to be generally accepted. There definitely are pros and cons for using MDF as a substitute for plywood panel replacement as well as moldings. Since MDF is a re manufactured wood product it has some of the characteristics of real wood, essentially made from wood fibre, wax and resins. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medium-density_fibreboard
MDF is usually readily available in local home centres for such things as sheet goods and moldings. The product does provide an excellent base for painted surfaces, giving crisp clean lines for architectural details such as Dentil Crown moldings. Exotic hardwoods are often sliced in veneers then fused to MDF panels to simulate wood panels used in cabinetry and office furniture. The cost savings can be enormous dependent on the species of wood used for veneers, rather than solid wood.
Despite the obvious benefits of using MDF products in some applications, there are some distinct disadvantages as well. Since the manufacturing of MDF uses urea formaldehyde for binder resins it does off gas formaldehyde and as well as other volatile organic compounds. Certainly some of this can be minimized by painting the product on all exposed sides. When cutting the product a dust mask should be used so as to protect one self from dust created, as the product is known to produce harmful carcinogens.
As with many other products manufactured including MDF the effects of exposure can be greatly minimized or reduced completely with the proper precautions taken. So in short always use a dust mask preferably respirator style mask if exposure is ongoing and frequent for working with MDF products. Once installed use proper paint finishes to seal the product and then enjoy the mastery of your workmanship.
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Michael Breault is a project coordinator for Nord Alta Construction. You can find the company website at www.nordalta.com. You can also find Michael and Nord Atla Construction on facebook at www.facebook.com/NordAltaConstruction, on twitter at www.twitter.com/Nordalta, and on LinkedIn.
Robert Breault is the president and owner of Nord Alta Construction. You can find the company website at www.nordalta.com. You can also find Robert and Nord Alta Construction on facebook at www.facebook.com/NordAltaContruction and on LinkedIn.