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Is MDF a good material for kitchen cabinets.

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I've used it for door panels but wouldn't be enthused about using it for cabinet cases. JMHO, will let the pros weigh in on this one:)




Yep, agree with Ken. Anything on the cabinet that's going to take some wear and tear like the frame and doors, you're better of with solid wood. You can use mdf for shelves and even panels for doors within a solid wood frame.

I agree with the gentlemen above, although they can be built with mdf you are far better off using a good cabinet plywood.  The quality you get far off sets the additional cost of the plywood.  Not only is mdf hard on your cutting tools but it is brittle and heavy weighing about twice that of a quality wood cabinet. 

 If you are going to build a cabinet out of something other that plywood and you are building a standard face framed cabinet, then go to melamine.   This is a mdf type of material covered with a baked on coating.  There is two types of melamine with the cheaper one having the coating almost like painted on.  The best is the industrial type that is baked on and highly resistant to stains and wear and tear like skuffing and abrassions.  It is best used  only for the cabinet box and then use hardwood for the face frames and doors.  Many desire these due to the ease of cleaning the cabinet interiors, as you can just wipe it out using a cleaning agent.

If you are building the European style, which is frameless, use the iron on tape that is heated and applied to the exposed edges.  You can build slab doors from this as well and use the tape on the raw edges as well.  I would reccomend using the European hinge system as the 35mm cup hole is superior to adjustment and holding power over the screw on hinge system.

However the melamine is a type of cabinet that is pretty much the "plain jane" type with no personality having a limited choice  of color of which the most common is white or black.

I have build several such cabinets for industrial purposes such as medical clinics, dental labs and dental offices due to the east of maintaining sanitary conditions and cleaning. 

I have found that melamine will hold screws pretty well but the joints should all be glued.  The best glue that I have found for this is one called "Roo glue " using the type for plastics. It is tough and dries to a clear finish.  something to be aware of is that nails do not hold very well in joints causing many cabinet makers to resort to staples.  I personally   roo glue and screw every joint with kreg screws. 

Although the melamine cabinet has its place in industry it is still not what I perfer to use in building any cabinet for a home use.  You will find these in many apartment buildings and business buildings due to cost factors but still most will be the ones with melamine boxes and wood face frames and doors. 

In the UK, all of the manufacturers use MDF. It takes finish well and is highly durable.

You need to seal it with a good grade of MDF sealer and preferably coat with a water impervious paint.

Ensure that all edges are well sealed. Bare MDF does not go well with water!

This is a tough question for me.  I am one of the few that loves to use MDF.  I wouldn't use it for kitchen cabinetry.  But use it for anything else.  

If cost is the reason you're looking at MDF you can just use 1/2 cabinet grade plywood, and 3/4 for your shelves.


Well, MDF is very popular nowadays and performs much better than solid wood in many areas. I don't think having MDF cabinets in kitchen will create any problem. Rather MDF cabinetry is less complicated. It won't create any cracking or peeling as like solid wood. One more reason to go with MDF cabinets is that it is often less expensive that solid wood. If you want you could also have a professional advice to get some more helpful hints.

I live in an area with several dozen cabinet shops. An article in the local paper last week estimated 100 shops. I work with many of them and it is a common opinion with them that cabinets made with MDF are low quality.

I have heard that for decades and can't help but think the same way.

Hi David,  I have over a quarter century building cabinets professionally and I have to agree with you as they are low quality and most often very poorly built simply as building a higher quality of cabinet would take much longer and defeats the purpose of speed and cost.  The biggest problem with melamine MDF is that it is brittle, chips out and splits during construction and movement as well as normal wear and tear once installed.  They are heavy in weight and will not take exposure to water and humidity without adverse effects.  

 I have written on here several posts written from my experience and available using the search option of the site and inserting  melamine cabinets.  If you want a good cabinet I do not recommend MDF as it will end up being inferior to that of a good wood build cabinet.
David Freed said:

I live in an area with several dozen cabinet shops. An article in the local paper last week estimated 100 shops. I work with many of them and it is a common opinion with them that cabinets made with MDF are low quality.

I have heard that for decades and can't help but think the same way.

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