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Thread: plywood or mdf

  1. #1
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    Question plywood or mdf

    we are pricing new cabinets for our kitchen, but one guy says plywood is the only way to go and the next guy says mdf press borad is better, stronger and cheeper then ply. I can't get over the fact that press board worps when it gets wet much easyer then plywood or are they making press borad that much better then in the past?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    DwarfWytch's opinion about MDF is much kinder than mine.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  3. #3
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    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    I share your situation. After dealing with 4 retailers, 7 large mfrs, and 2 custom cabinetmakers, I can say that although MDF or pressed wood is much much more common, just go for the plywood. Many mfr will do plywood ends and/or wood drawers with dovetail boxes. But many really don't want to deal with all plywood boxes for some reason (most likely because it turns a 10-15 year kitchen into a 50 year kitchen & who wants to wait so long to sell your product again?) If a salesperson is pushing MDF, chances are they are unconfident of their ability to sell the better product, relying on the lowest-common-denominator (price) to seal the deal.
    Personally, I have an MDF kitchen from the 70s which has literally fallen apart at the glue seams. I ripped a good part of it out 2 years ago & put a fabric skirt hiding plastic bins in its place while we got the rest of the house done. Now that its the kitchens turn and I have run into people who insist on selling MDF & some that look like I am an alien when I insist on plywood construction. But with all the house flipping that went on over the last 3 years, no wonder they only push the cheap stuff.
    No, definitely insist on the good stuff & if your spouse questions your financial judgement, remember that a good mfr will charge only about $500 for the upgrade (I did 18 cabinets) and that Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect of the 20th Century, used furniture-grade plywood extensively in his designs & whe was considered a genius in his circles.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    Quote Originally Posted by DwarfWytch View Post
    Don't be fooled by cabinetry called "solid wood" it can still contain MDF.
    "Solid wood" generally refers to face frames and doors (sometimes just the doors ). Even "plywood", in terms of cabinet retailers and manufacturer's is a misnomer because there is a great many products made of an MDF or particle board core and wood veneered faced material.

    The best bet for wood-core plywood, real wood face frames and doors is a custom shop with those criteria addressed. For the same money you'd spend at a retailer for this type of cabinet, you can get custom woodwork done that will likely be of better quality material and construction than any mass produced item you could buy off the shelf or with those nifty "upgrades" or "special orders" that the big box retailers love to use to add additional costs to your order.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    just to add to this excellent thread, and to spruce with manufactured cabinets they (regardless of what they say) are not custom cabinets. whereas with a cabinet shop you can get truly any depth and configuration you want

  6. #6
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    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    Quote Originally Posted by havanagranite View Post
    just to add to this excellent thread, and to spruce with manufactured cabinets they (regardless of what they say) are not custom cabinets. whereas with a cabinet shop you can get truly any depth and configuration you want
    Exactly....First hand experience with KraftMaid (otherwise known as KrapMade) which advertises "semi-custom". Just what the heck is that, its either custom or not. Their "semi-custom" is that you order catalog size cabinets and make them fit with fillers. The only custom piece to the whole thing is the width you rip your own fillers. They also use mdf rather than plywood. They are just one example of an overpriced cabinet. I have to laugh when I see them on the Home Makeover show. The builder puts up a big $ home only to have mdf cabinets installed.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    Quote Originally Posted by A. Spruce View Post
    "Solid wood" generally refers to face frames and doors (sometimes just the doors ). Even "plywood", in terms of cabinet retailers and manufacturer's is a misnomer because there is a great many products made of an MDF or particle board core and wood veneered faced material.

    The best bet for wood-core plywood, real wood face frames and doors is a custom shop with those criteria addressed. For the same money you'd spend at a retailer for this type of cabinet, you can get custom woodwork done that will likely be of better quality material and construction than any mass produced item you could buy off the shelf or with those nifty "upgrades" or "special orders" that the big box retailers love to use to add additional costs to your order.
    mdf IS solid wood just really little pieces of it

  8. #8
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    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    Quote Originally Posted by havanagranite View Post
    mdf IS solid wood just really little pieces of it
    Then it's perfect for really little cabinets.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    LOL!!!!!That was funny!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    Quality manufacturers don't use MDF (medium density fiberboard) for cabinet boxes...They either use plywood or particleboard.
    65 lb. particleboard is the best. It is made under 65 lb. per square inch pressure. These days with no off-gassing, no formaldehyde. Same with their plywood.
    Both are equally strong and the particleboard is less likely to warp or twist than the plywood.
    If the box is made of particleboard it will be a heavier cabinet, so the installer has a more difficult time.
    Other than that I have seen no reason not to save the difference in cost between the two.
    MDF is used as door material by many manufacturers.
    The doors are too heavy and cause the hinges to break over the long haul, so I do not recommend MDF doors.

    Any cabinet manufacturer that uses less dense particleboard than 65 lb. is not worth your dollars or time. Same with any cabinet maker that provides shelves less than 3/4" thick.

    For other recommendations on how to know when you are looking at a well-built cabinet or cabinet spec, see my web site at http://www.kitchenartworks.com/cabinetry.htm for the Cabinet Shopping Standards I recommend to my clients.
    Last edited by pderas; 01-07-2008 at 10:03 PM. Reason: change
    Peggy Deras, CKD, CID
    Kitchen Artworks

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