MDF, also known as medium density fiberboard, is a manufactured composite, similar to particle board. It is made from synthetic resins, binders and wood fillers. High heat and pressure used in the manufacturing process makes a board that is smooth, flat and free from knots and grains. Additionally, MDF is an easily shaped product allowing for a wide range of finished designs.
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Compared to solid wood, MDF is easier to work with, is more uniform and dimensionally stable, will not warp, crack or check and is less expensive. As a result, MDF is used in place of solid wood and plywood for mouldings. MDF mouldings can be manufactured with special adhesives making it suitable for use in exterior applications, including mouldings around doors and windows, and to shape shingle moulds and brick moulding. Patterns can be easily created in the moulding, according to the Packard Forest Products website. Patterns include fluted casings, exterior dentil moulds and crowns.
Windows and Doors
Exterior window components are also made with MDF. This includes pediments over windows, window sills and window trim. For exterior doors, MDF is used for pilasters and door trim, as well as raised panels, bottom rails and pediments over the door. MDF is also used to make garage doors.
MDF has many other outdoor uses, such as for building exterior signs, column facings, shutters, gable vents and louvres, as well as soffit trim and other types of exterior trim. MDF is also used as a substrate for cedar and red wood. According to Packard Forest Products, the high resin and high temperature-cured, all hardwood fibre composites, makes MDF suitable for a variety of millwork applications -- where moisture is known to cause some other wood composite substrate products to fail.
Most MDF is made with resins that contain formaldehyde, a suspected carcinogen, according to the ebuild website. When sawing MDF boards with power tools, a fine dust is generated. You should always wear a respirator to avoid inhaling the dust, as well as side-shield safety glasses.
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