HDF vs MDF Cabinets

Are you looking to build the perfect cabinet for your kitchen or bathroom but unsure of which wood will be ideal for the project? We have put this article together for you to understand the similarities and differences of both HDF and MDF and know what they are suitable for to make the right choice.

High-density fiberboard (HDF) is an engineered wood type manufactured from the wood fibers of pulpwood waste. It is a combination of thin panels of natural wood, wax, and resin, bound together with glues or binders under heat and pressure.

Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is also an engineered wood glued together under heat and pressure derived from hardwood or softwood fibers.

Comparing the differences between HDF and MDF, the former is quite expensive than the later, while MDF has a shorter durability period than HDF. Additionally, MDF isn’t as sturdy as HDF, especially since its density is between 600 and 800kg, which is less than HDF.

HDF vs MDF Cabinets

Comparison Table for HDF and MDF

Parameters of comparisonHDFMDF
Ideal forFurniture, door skins, backing panels, laminate flooringCabinets, bathroom floorings, speaker exterior, decorative items.
Density 800kg and above per cubic meter600- 800kg per cubic meter
Strength and durabilityStrongMedium strong
CostHDF is more expensive than MDFMDF is relatively cheaper  than HDF
DurabilityHighly durableLess durable
Resistance to moistureNot entirely water-resistantNot entirely water-resistant
Surface finishingSmooth and uniform surfaceSmooth and uniform surface
WorkabilityNot very easy to cut into planes and shapesEasy to cut into shapes

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Differences Between HDF and MDF

Even though they are both engineered wood, they have their significant differences which makes them special in their own way. These differences are found in their strength and durability, price, resistance to moisture, density, among others. Check out the detailed explanation of their differences below.


Although HDF is more expensive than MDF, the prices may vary according to their thickness, and it is still affordable. The difference in their price tag is a result of their structure, as HDF is thinner and sturdier than MDF.

Strength and Durability

When it comes to strength, HDF is stronger compared to all fiberboards, including MDF. Although, this depends on how and where you use it. MDF can last for about 10 to 15 years, while HDF can last longer. Also, you can compare HDF to solid wood, which is why most people prefer to use it for their cabinets, wardrobes, shelves, etc. MDF may not be as strong as HDF, but it has its strengths, one of which is the fact that it is resistant to heat; plus it has different types that are ideal for specific purposes.

Resistance to moisture

Neither HDF nor MDF is water-resistant even though the density of the former gives it an edge over the latter in that if they both get exposed to water at the same time, HDF takes a longer time to absorb the water. Nevertheless, exposing any of these woods to water will cause them to swell and wear off over time, affecting their durability.


HDF has a thickness between 3 to 8mm and a density between 800- 900kg/m3, contributing to its hardness while MDF has a lower density between 600- 800kg/m, making it softer or weaker and easier to get destroyed. Because of how thick and hard HDF is, it cannot be used for skirting boards and other interior decoration purposes.


The less-dense nature of MDF makes it easier to work with than HDF. So, you can cut or saw through into any shape and maneuver it in different applications and still get ideal results. 

Nail/screw-holding capacity

HDF can be held or fastened together with screws, nails, or staples, making it easy to work with on furniture projects. MDF has a less nail/screw-holding capacity and is prone to split when fastening together with screws or nails. The only solution is to use glue and clamp or drill a hole before fastening the screw or nail into it.


Exploring the various types of MDF, the ultra-light MDF is best used for filing cabinets, beds, or any furniture that is often moved around. For the bendy MDF, its extra flexibility allows you to bend it into any shape and use it as finishing on any surface. Fire retardant MDF is often used for furniture in commercial buildings and homes as extra protection against potential fire outbreaks. Finally, the moisture-resistant MDF comes in handy for damp environments like your bathroom, kitchen, and flooring that are exposed to moisture or humidity.

HDF, on the other hand, is used to make furniture that is frequently used and backboard for framing paintings. Also, the hard nature and smooth surface make it the ideal material for making door skins, laminating interior floorings, and painting surfaces.

Similarities Between HDF and MDF

Impact on the environment

HDF and MDF are both engineered woods made from the waste of other woods. This makes them environmentally friendly. However, the formaldehyde used in their construction makes them less child-friendly and increases their risk of out-gassing.

Surface and finish

Booth fiberboards have a consistent structure with smooth surfaces and finishing that are ideal for painting.

Other similarities between MDF and HDF include the fact that they do not have the best holding strength as solid wood. Hence, you shouldn’t use them for furniture or projects that will require frequent dismantling and reassembling. Also, their low water-resistant nature makes them unfit for outdoor projects; plus they are less prone to pest attack compared to other wood types.


Both HDF and MDF have their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the ideal situation where they are applicable. If you are in the process of upgrading your washroom, bathroom, kitchen, or office cabinets and need the perfect fiberboard for this purpose, go for the MDF board.

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