MDF vs Plywood Board

Mar 8, 2021 | Guides

A common question, MDF or Plywood which one is the best option? Both have their own fortes, so below we have produced a comparison to see which is better.

mdf board vs plywood board

What is MDF?

MDF is medium density fibreboard, which is basically engineered wood obtained by breaking down hardwood and softwood composites. Since it is made up of small wood fibres, there are no visible wood grains or knots. The fibres are joined together, using wax to produce panels by applying pressure or high temperature. This results in a smooth wood product that has no wood grain and shares many characteristics with particleboard. However, MDF is slightly stronger and it can be purchased in a variety of thicknesses and grades. Typically, MDF is the material used in ready-made furniture, cabinets, shelves, and storage units.

 What are the advantages of MDF?



Generally MDF is cheaper than Plywood.



Having a very smooth surface, MDF is ideal for painting.



Being very consistent throughout cut edges will appear smoother with no voids or splinters



Being consistent and smooth MDF is the go-to material for detailed designs

What is Plywood?

Like MDF, plywood is also an engineered wood product. It is made by pressing and binding sheets of wood veneer together into one solid piece. Also, like MDF, plywood comes not only in different thicknesses but also in different grades, meaning that you have the flexibility to choose the right one for your project. Usually, the lower grades would be used in the construction of houses, the higher grades however are much prettier and smoother and because of the different treatments of plywood, it can serve for interior, exterior and even marine construction purposes.

What are the advantages of plywood?



Due to it being made from multiple layers of wood veneer, plywood is a very strong material


Plywood is less susceptible to water damage as it won’t soak up water and liquids as quickly or easily as MDF does.



Having a grain means that plywood is stainable, making it ideal for kitchen cabinets or tabletops.



Because plywood has varying grains on each layer it holds screws tightly as they have something to hold onto.

We have explored what MDF and Plywood are and their advantages.
So, which one is better? MDF or Plywood?

Factors to consider

Price: Generally, the price of both MDF and plywood are dependant on the thickness and grade chosen though overall MDF costs less than plywood. Higher grades of plywood are more expensive because they are more elegant or pleasing to look at and often display natural hardwood or softwood grains.  But If there aren’t any factors pushing you to one material over another, then MDF is the best choice.

Usage: Depending on your planned usage could make the decision easier for you. MDF is used for doors and internal panelling usually where moisture is less likely to damage it and as such, it is mainly used for indoor applications. Being less susceptible to water plywood is used for doors, exterior stairs, external cladding, flooring, and timber frames in construction.

Appearance: Being made of wood strips the appearance of plywood takes on a solid wood appearance better than MDF. The higher the grade of plywood makes it smoother and more attractive, with plenty of grain, yet none of the knotholes that can mar solid wood. MDF, in contrast, has no grain, isn’t as smooth as plywood, and looks like what it is: pressed wood fibres.

Strength and durability: MDF is not as hard as plywood and can be damaged easily when roughly handled. It can also sag with too much weight on it as it is not as stiff. For example, when using MDF for shelves you could reinforce them to prevent them from sagging.

Need MDF cut to size? Or Plywood? It’s easy to get a quote

How much does it cost to have your MDF or Plywood sheets cut to size and delivered ready for use? Head over to our online quote form to send your cut list or download our spreadsheet, fill it in and return to us. We’ll send you a great value board cut quote in under 24 hours.


Now we have looked at and understood the differences between MDF and Plywood we would conclude that MDF is a better choice for indoor applications and for decorative purposes like furniture. It is also a better choice for projects that may require specific shaping, cutting, and drilling as it doesn’t splinter like plywood. MDF would also be the choice if you are painting. If, however your project is to construct doors or stairs or for an exterior project then plywood would be your choice as it holds well to water and can handle higher weights.

If you have no specific preference and you’re just thinking about cost, then MDF is the choice. But if durability or strength is what you’re after, plywood wins.

Though whatever your conclusion when needing your MDF or plywood cut the only right decision is to contact Boardcut for all your cutting needs.