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Solid Wood vs MDF: What's the story(2)

TIME: 2017-03-16

Solid Wood vs MDF: What's the story(2)

In the construction of painted cabinet doors, MDF outperforms solid wood. The conventional frame and panel method for building solid wood doors involves connecting five separate pieces: four frame pieces and a center panel cut slightly smaller than the frame because it needs to float—to allow for expansion and contraction. This is typically known as cope and stick joinery or 5-piece construction.

MDF, because it’s made of processed wood fibers as panel stock allows for a different construction method. MDF can be milled by computer-operated machinery (CNC) in one-piece frames with the center cut out for a recessed panel. Because of its density, MDF does not move independently from the frame and the inserted panel does not need to float like the conventional five-piece solid wood door. 

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Since the MDF panel doesn’t float within the frame, hairline cracks do not form along the edges of the panel or at the style and rail joinery. MDF will expand and contract but with this 2-piece construction method the doors move as a unit and not as individual pieces of wood. Therefore the paint does not crack or peel at the joints. 

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