How to laminate mdf

Written by colleen meheen
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How to laminate mdf
MDF is used for many home items, from cabinets to countertops. (Candles image by MAXFX from

The term MDF stands for Medium Density Fiberboard. This fiberboard is in the hardboard family and is constructed of wood fibres that are glued together under heat and high pressure. The density of MDF is typically between 15 and 24.9 Kilogram per cubic foot. The workability, dimensional stability, close tolerances, flatness, dent-resistance and minimal grain-telegraphing of MDF have contributed to its wide popularity.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • MDF board
  • Table saw
  • Laminate
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Water-based contact cement
  • Clamps
  • Driver
  • Bit
  • Roller
  • Large, flat working surface

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  1. 1

    Trim your MDF board with a table saw, to just slightly over the size you need it to fit into. This creates room to clean up the edges once the laminate is joined to the MDF. Do not exceed half an inch on each side for this.

  2. 2

    Flip over the MDF panel, then use a countersink drill to create four entry points at each corner of the MDF and laminate boards for the final securing process. You will notice bumps when drilling MDF, but the countersink drill bit should remove these. Remove anything that could prevent the laminate and MDF from connecting tightly and consistently throughout the sheet board.

  3. 3

    Clean out all the holes and set your drill, driver, glue, bit and roller and four clamps close by for easy access. Place the MDF on a large, flat surface to complete the glue up.

  4. 4

    Place the MDF board onto the flat surface, bottom side facing up. Put the laminate panel on a close by flat surface, bottom side down. Make sure the laminate panel will be the bottom panel, once you apply the clamps to the MDF and laminate.

  5. 5

    Squeeze out the contact cement onto your MDF panel, spreading it thin and evenly, leaving no bare areas. Quickly spread the glue, as you only have four to five minutes to get your MDF and laminate mated, aligned and clamped securely. Repeat this process over the laminate panel.

  6. 6

    Combine the bottom laminate panel with the MDF panel. Manipulate the two panels to assure the glue is spread evenly across both surfaces. Line up the upper right corners and drive in a screw to secure the two pieces. Line up the lower left corners and drive in another screw. Clamp all four corners to your flat surface.

  7. 7

    Allow the clamps and glue to sit for a minimum of 24 hours.

Tips and warnings

  • MDF is typically made with urea-formaldehyde resin totalling nine per cent by weight. While most people are not affected by this, people sensitive to formaldehyde emissions should consider low formaldehyde or formaldehyde-free MDF, or consider methods of controlling these emissions through proper finishing.

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