HDF Vs MDF Board: Differences & which one is Best for Cabinets?

MDF vs HDF and which one is better has become a heated topic among wood enthusiasts in recent years. Right? HDF is a high-density fiberboard, and MDF is a medium-density fiberboard. HDF is thinner and sturdier than MDF due to its high density, whereas MDF is thicker and costs less.

Both MDF and HDF are structurally different and have their unique usages. There is no exact answer to which one is better. In this article, we are going to discuss all there is to know about HDF Vs MDF Board to help you decide which one you need.

So, let’s dive in:


What is MDF?

Medium-density fiberboard is the full form of MDF. It is called that due to the density of the wood. Also, it is denser than plywood but less dense than HDF.

While there are more robust choices out there, MDF is quite durable itself. Besides, it has a smooth surface that is easy to work with, and it is also budget-friendly.

How is MDF made?

MDF Board
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MDF manufacturing includes the usage of wood fibers made from breaking down the remains of hard-wood and soft-wood.

These wood fibres are then combined with wax and a binder under immense heat and pressure, and you need to use these ingredients in specific percentages.

The list below shows the usage rate of different components:

  1. Wood fibers 82%
  2. Binder 9%
  3. Water 8%
  4. Wax 1%

The density needs to be between 600 – 800 kg/m3. Also, the thickness is significant because the thicker version of MDF is known as HDF or high-density fiberboard. [Read Also: Circular Saw Vs Track Saw: 9 Differences [with Pros & Cons]]


MDF has many use cases because of its versatility. MDF is also affordable, sturdy, and durable.

Additionally, it has a smooth structure that makes sure you always have a consistent feeling when working with it. Here are some common usages of MDF.

  1. Building furniture
  2. Building interior cabinets
  3. Use as a flooring material
  4. Creating showpiece
  5. Speaker exterior
  6. Giving resistance to fire
  7. As a second layer for the roof

These are the typical use cases of MDF. Some particular types of MDF have their unique usages.

Let us know more about it.

Types of MDF:

1.Bendable: This MDF is more flexible than typical MDF. It has all the qualities of a regular MDF with the addition of extra flexibility.

2.Lite: Common MDF can be quite heavy due to its build structure. But this type of MDF is comparatively lite and can be used to build something that needs to move very often.

3.Fire-resistant: This type of MDF is resistant to fire and is common in commercial buildings. But, before you buy, make sure that they are certified and legit.

4.Resistant to moisture: Normal MDF can swell in the presence of extra humidity around the environment. This MDF uses a special resin for better water resistance and is suitable for areas like the kitchen or washroom.

If you are still wondering why you should use MDF over others, here are some advantages of using MDF to give a more precise understanding of the topic.


  1. MDF is affordable and cost-effective compared to others like ply-wood.
  2. It has a smooth surface that is ideal for inserting color. The smooth surface makes the colouring process very easy and helps it look very eye-pleasing as well.
  3. MDF is very consistent throughout its surface area. It has no rough edges, so the cuts are always smooth.
  4. Because it has no rough edges, it is an ideal material for building showpieces.
  5. The smoothness of the MDF surface makes its usage very easy and straightforward.
  6. MDF is eco friendly.
  7. It is somewhat insect resistant due to the usage of various chemicals.


  1. MDF acts like a sponge near water or extra humidity. It absorbs moisture fast and can swell in length and width if it is not appropriately protected.
  2. MDF has a smooth surface, which is terrible in holding screws or other materials.
  3. It is comparatively heavy because of its density and can be challenging to carry around from place to place.
  4. Stains on an MDF surface can be long-lasting because of its sponge-like characteristics.
  5. It would be best if you took extra precautions before cutting MDF as it has VOC. Inhaling this can be dangerous for any individual.
  6. Though it is strong, there are still more robust options out there.

What is HDF?

HDF is also known as high-density fiberboard. It is denser than both plywood and MDF. Therefore its name is HDF.

There is also a grade above HDF known as SRHDF or super-refined high-density fiberboard. HDF is more robust and thinner than MDF.

How is HDF Made?

HDF Board
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HDF building process includes the usage of wood fibers gathered from pulpwood wastage. The manufacturing procedures for HDF are similar to MDF. It also consists of the use of wax and binder.

All of these are then kept under intense heat and pressure to create HDF. The percentage of ingredients is also similar to MDF. The critical difference between MDF and HDF is their density. The density of HDF is higher than 800 kg/m3.


HDF has the qualities of MDF with the addition of extra durability and sturdiness. HDF is also smooth and easily workable. But HDF costs much more than MDF due to its strength.

With the added structural strength of HDF, the field if usage changes. Some everyday use cases of HDF are

1.Furniture that is regularly used: Regularly used furniture needs to be sturdier. The robust nature of HDF makes it a perfect fit for making this type of furniture.

2.Floor laminating: You can use the HDF for interior flooring. However, it is not suitable for exterior flooring as it can absorb water. HDF is built under extreme heat and pressure, so it is more durable to moisture.

3.As skin for doors: HDF is hard and smooth. As a result, you can use it as decorative door skin.

4.Backboard: You can use HDF as a backboard for framing paintings. It is also useful as a painting surface.

There are benefits of using hard-board or HDF, and it has its usage cases.


  1. HDF has a smooth surface that is ideal for painting.
  2. It is firmer and thinner than both plywood and MDF.
  3. It is less vulnerable to water compared to MDF but not wholly water-resistant.
  4. As this is artificially made, HDF does not crack or warm when the season changes. This quality helps in stopping any distortion to your home appliances.
  5. HDF is as strong as actual wood and more affordable compared to it.
  6. It is excellent for building interior furniture that you use often.
  7. You can use HDF to create partitions.
  8. It has smooth edges and is easy to cut through.


  1. It costs more compared to plywood and MDF.
  2. The smoothness of HDF causes it to have less friction. Which means it is awful in holding screws.
  3. HDF is terrible with water. It absorbs water and swells in its presence. So, it is not a suitable material for outdoor usage.
  4. As it is artificially made, HDF uses some dangerous chemicals that can be fatal for children.
  5. Many carpenters still prefer actual wood over HDF.

HDF vs MDF Wood Differences: which Board is Best?

There are some noticeable differences between HDF and MDF. In the next part of this article, we will discuss what makes HDF and MDF different from each other.

1.Production element:

HDF is made out of wood fibers collected from pulpwood wastage, whereas MDF uses the wood fibers made out of the remainders of hardwood and softwood.


Thickness or density is the main difference between HDF and MDF.

HDF stands for high-density fiberwood, and MDF stands for medium-density fiberwood. HDF is more sturdy and dense compared to MDF.

The density of MDF is between 600 – 800 kg/m3, and the thickness of HDF is above 800 kg/m3.


HDF and MDF have different price tags due to their build structure. HDF is sturdier and thinner compared to MDF and usually costs more.

Though HDF costs more than MDF, it is still an affordable option. Because HDF can be as strong as regular wood, but the cost of it is way less.

4.Use cases:

As they have different build structures, their use cases can also differ based on that.

You can use MDF as a building material for furniture, interior cabinets, flooring material, creating showpiece, speaker exterior, giving resistance to fire, and as a second layer for the roof.

You can use HDF as a building component for high usage furniture, floor laminating, door skin, and backboard for framing paintings and drawings.


Though it can vary depending on how you use it, HDF tends to last more than MDF.

HDF is denser and has a sturdy build structure compared to MDF. For that reason, it usually lasts for a long time.

MDF is weaker than HDF, but it can still last for 10-15 years, depending on what environment you use it in. MDF suffers in a highly humid climate.

Both of them are infamous for water consumption, but MDF suffers more from this issue.

Which Board is Better for Kitchen Cabinet & Doors:

Compared to MDF, HDF is more suitable for building cabinets and doors.

It is because, in terms of strength, HDF is as hard as regular wood and, without a doubt, more substantial than MDF.

MDF is also very vulnerable to water. It absorbs water and swells. HDF is also not wholly water-resistant; it has much more resistance than MDF. You can also find special HDF that has better water-resisting quality.

Which wood is Waterproof

waterproof mdf board

MDF and HDF both are not entirely waterproof.

Structurally HDF is much denser and is less vulnerable to water and moisture.

But if you want better water resistance, HDF and MDF both can offer that. There are specially made HDF and MDF that have much more water-resisting capabilities than normal ones.

These unique woods are suitable for humid areas. You can also use them in places where they will be exposed to water like around the kitchen sink or in washrooms.

[Read Also: How to Waterproof Plywood Sheets, Deck & Paint from Water Damage]

HDF vs Plywood Differences:

HDF vs Plywood Differences

HDF and plywood are both engineered wood. Which means both are artificially created woods.

HDF is made from the wood fibers gathered from the wastage of pulpwood. These wood fibres are then kept under immense heat and pressure with wax, water, and resin.

Plywood is made by glueing thin layers of wood together and then compressing it.

HDF is much sturdier compared to plywood. It is the strongest of all the engineered woods and closer to regular timber in terms of strength.

We prefer the use of HDF because not only is it more robust, but also it is less vulnerable to water and moisture compared to plywood. But plywoods tend to be more flexible and have their use cases as well.

[Read Also: Radial Arm Saw vs Miter Saw: Which One Is Ideal For woodworking]

Final Words

Now, we have to come to the end of our guide on HDF vs. MDF. Well, are you still in hesitation on deciding the suitable one for cabinets?

Let us help; as HDF is better for building heavy furniture that you use regularly, we recommend you to use HDF board for cabinets rather than MDF boards!

Last Updated on February 1, 2021 by Rogers Weber

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