Medium density fiberboard (MDF) is a familiar type of material that's used in the construction of woodworking-type projects and can be extremely useful and convenient. It offers a sleek and professional design to any product and can enhance any home environment. However, fiberboard can also cause a number of problems.
Medium density fiberboard is a type of hardboard that is made out of wood fibers. The wood fibers are glued together under heat and pressure, creating a smooth surface. Fiberboard can be used for such products as display cabinets, wall panels and storage units.
Disadvantages in Construction
MDF contains a lot of glue, which can damage or blunt tools with cutting edges. Nails and screws can be used to attach the materials together, but they can also easily split and damage fiberboard.
MDF can be harmful to your health. A substance called urea formaldehyde, used in its construction, can be released into the air when the material is cut or sanded, causing irritation to the eyes and lungs. A high ingestion of urea formaldehyde can lead to upper and lower respiratory tract infections as well as cancer. While these symptoms are less common when exposed to low doses of the material, it's still important to take necessary protective measures whenever handling fiberboards.
Why It's Used
Despite their disadvantages, MDF can be useful in the construction of woodworking-type projects when used carefully. Some of those advantages include the fact that, unlike wood, fiberboard can create a smooth surface that makes it easier to paint over. Wax and oil finishes can also be easily applied as finishes on fiberboard.
Be sure to wear eye protection and a face mask, and work in a well-ventilated area when using medium-density fiberboard.