Busting Myths About MDF Cabinets

updated
April 15, 2022
c & c machine creating MDF cabinets
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Examining MDF Cabinets 

The first wooden cabinet is believed to have been made 300,000 years ago. With a history that far surpasses that of the common garage, it’s understandable that homeowners hesitate to deviate from classic wood when shopping for garage cabinets. However, like a lot of evolved technology, there are reasons to embrace change. Medium-Density Fiberboard Cabinets – or MDF cabinets – aren’t old-school wooden cabinets, but when produced with high-quality craftsmanship, they are a high-performance choice. We’re examining MDF cabinets closely with the hopes of explaining away customer concerns about MDF's ability to make history like wood. 

What are MDF cabinets? 

MDF cabinets are cabinets made of a man-made wood product also known as medium-density fiberboard, or MDF. MDF is composed of wood fiber, wax, and resin. The process breaks wood down to fibers (or wood pulp), then mixes wood pulp with resin, and finally applies high-temperature and high-pressure to bake the fibers into a durable new panel.  

MDF has a reputation for being less durable than wood because when damaged (such as scratches) it can be at risk of warping and expanding with moisture. This reputation is misleading because properly sealed MDF is highly resistant to damage and incredibly durable. In fact, properly sealed MDF is moisture-resistant and not at risk of warping or expanding. 

The longevity of your MDF cabinets depends on how you paint them.

Powder-Coated MDF Cabinets

How do you paint MDF cabinets to make them long-lasting? When powder-coated, your MDF cabinets will be temperature- and moisture-resistant. This means that they will not expand or contract with any changes in weather. 

Powder coating has proved its strength for decades in the surface finishing of metals. Today, it is acknowledged as a robust, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly technology. But, the industrial powder coating of MDF experienced substantial difficulties in the past. Twenty to 30 years ago, powder coating was done with a high-temperature curing powder. Powder coating pulls moisture out of MDF, which caused bubbling and cracking during the high heat process, and so it was only possible to coat metals. Now, low temperature fast curing powders, and a new combination oven using infrared and hot air to apply and cure the powder, makes coating MDF possible.  

Powder coating MDF results in a surface that is scratch-proof, water-resistant, easy to clean, and has excellent color retention. 

a flawless powder coated mdf cabinet piece
Every inch of the surface is powder-coated.

Busting Myths About MDF

Myth One: MDF isn’t strong enough.

A common misconception is that MDF just isn’t strong enough to use for building heavy-duty and high-quality cabinets. We’ve taken two unique approaches to develop our cabinets that make this a non-issue: our construction method and our powder-coated finish.

Using a C&C Machine, we take a flat piece of wood and cut the grooves for the doors and other pieces. Unlike competitors who join two flat pieces of wood with screws that result in less strength, we apply the old-school craftsmanship of dado joints. A dado joint is formed by using the C&C machine to put a groove in every board and the adjoining board is fit into that groove, making a dado joint that is stronger than any screw. 

a drawer with pieces connected using dado joints
Every board is adjoined to another board using dado joints.

We also focus on strengthening the weak point of shelves. We use 1-inch material rather than the common standard of ¾ inch. As a result, the shelves maintain their rigidity and can carry greater weight. When you go to adjust our cabinets’ shelves, there’s a difference in strength and weight that you can feel. 

Lastly, we finish our cabinets with powder-coating, which creates a very hard surface that strengthens the wood. Our powder-coating method also creates a durable seal, which addresses common misconception number two...

Myth Two: MDF is prone to warping and expanding with moisture.

MDF is a composite wood made of recycled wood, and it doesn’t warp the same way that normal wood does. When shopping for 2x4s, you’ll notice that they’re never straight. Unlike real wood, MDF doesn’t warp in this way. Specifically, in our cabinets, the connection established using dado joints also helps to keep it straight. Moisture is a common problem with composite woods, but by coating the entirety of our cabinets (every side and edge and inch is covered), we seal out the moisture. This differs from the common use of melamine (paper that is glued on), where it’s not sealed all-around and is prone to getting moisture seeped into the cracks. By coating the entire cabinet in the process of spraying, we fully seal the MDF and moisture is not an issue.

mdf cabinet pieces fully sealed and perfect

Why is MDF a good choice for garage cabinets?

  • Durability: Temperature- and Moisture-resistant, and scratch-proof
  • Customization: MDF maximizes the possibilities of production, giving you more customization options
  • Smooth Finish: Powder-coated MDF cabinets are easy to clean, and have excellent color retention
  • Cost-Effective: Maximize your storage and organization with high-quality finishes at a lower price point and more variety than wood cabinets

Digging Deeper into How Wood Compares to MDF

Fact: In comparison to wood, powder-coated MDF cabinets allow you to get a greater amount of storage for equal value. But, the benefits of MDF go beyond the price tag. Explore 4 Ways MDF Cabinets Are Better Than Wood Cabinets.

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