Is HDF Waterproof?

There used to be a time when you had a choice of natural woods to pick from while shopping for new furniture, constructing a house or simply delving into renovation projects. These days engineered wood has become so popular.

Since forests are depleting fast, and natural wood is becoming scarce (not readily available), furniture made from solid (natural) wood has become very expensive. 

Engineered woods of a wide variety have now been used as alternatives for solid woods. They are found to be more cost-effective, and more environmentally sustainable.

Engineered wood is a composite material created by binding strands, particles, thin adhesives, fibers or veneers, to make a range of products. Each of the products is made from different raw materials and undergo varied manufacturing processes.

The popular kinds of engineered wood in the market include MDF, HDF, particleboard and plywood.

HDF, high-density fiberboard is a man-made composite manufactured from compressed wood fibres. It is made by adding oil that becomes a polymer when the board is formed under high temperature and pressure.

High-Density Fiberboard, (HDF) features a stylish wood-grain appearance that offers the high-end look of natural lumber without troublesome maintenance. It can be waterproofed, but how can this be done? There are simple steps to follow. How do you know what to look out for when you suspect that your HDF wood is damaged?

Is HDF Waterproof

What does HDF mean?

HDF stands for High-Density Fiberwood. 

These are products that are made of fibres that have been glued and subjected to intense heat. The fibres are gotten from pulps of wood that’s no longer useful, which are glued together with intense pressure.

Just like solid wood, HDF has a few features but it goes beyond and serves as a better option because…

  • It is affordable, and just as strong.
  • There are no grains on HDF
  • It has a better and smoother finish for painting
  • It resists cracking.
  • HDF does not experience warping (unsightly gaps caused by the expansion and contraction because of fluctuations in temperature).

HDF is

  • The best choice in areas where moisture is present, and the flooring requires frequent mopping. For example, in bathrooms.
  • A preferred material for painted cabinet doors as it is economical
  • Great for furniture where traffic is heavy, such as in hotels, cinemas, government offices, etc.

In addition, HDF is available in the perforated form, which is used for hanging various tools of the workshops.

Is HDF Waterproof?

Imagine trying to decide what type of flooring to use outdoors on the deck? 

Like other fiberwoods, an HDF cannot be used outside because it is not entirely waterproof, but it is much denser and less vulnerable to water and moisture than the rest. However, a high-density fiberwood can be waterproofed.

How to make HDF waterproof

Waterproofing floors helps to protect them from more than just water. When you make HDF waterproof, you are protecting the floors from everyday stains and those made by pets. You are also making regular clean-up a lot easier than ever before.

Oil- or water-based urethane waterproofing sealer is highly recommended for waterproofing existing hardwood flooring since it preserves the wood’s finish. 

When you must, please use a wool mop to spread the urethane waterproofing sealer. This is a better alternative to a paint roller.

Waterproofing HDF floors is a simple task that you can complete on your own. 

How to waterproof HDF 

Follow these steps:

Step 1: Cleaning and preparing the floor.

First, ensure that there is adequate ventilation before you start the process. Use medium-grit sandpaper to sand the floor then vacuum or sweep the debris until the floor is completely clean.

Step 2: Priming the floor.

Select the floor primer that is specific to the HDF floor you are waterproofing. Make sure that you have a smooth and even layer of primer on the entire space or room that you are working on. Then allow the floor to dry according to the primer manufacturer’s manual.

Step 3: Sealing with silicone

Those cracks and gaps very often attract moisture, so sealing them completely is important in this process of waterproofing. Fill every opening in the floor and those between the floor and the wall. Allow the seal to dry properly.

Step 4: Applying the first coat of the approved waterproofing sealer

Use a paint roller, sponge or preferably a wool mop to spread and paint the first coat of the waterproofing sealant. Allow drying for about a day (24 hours).

Step 5: Applying the second coat of the same waterproofing sealer

When the first coat of sealer has dried completely, repeat the process as you apply the second coat. Wait for another 24 hours for the second coat to also dry.

How to spot water-related damage on HDF flooring

If a spill occurs and the water is allowed to go past the layers of the HDF flooring, it can lead to warping, swelling and growth of mould. 

When you see bubbles in the gaps between the floorboards, water has gotten through and damage has occurred. Your flooring will need quick attention.

What Happens If HDF Flooring Gets Wet?

To start with, study the different layers that the HDF is made up of as this gives you a good understanding of what happens when your HDF flooring gets wet. 

An HDF flooring typically is made up of four layers:

  • The backing layer is the bottom-most layer that touches the floor. It helps to balance the board on the floor and acts as a barrier to moisture.
  • Next is the base layer that lies above the backing layer. It is what constitutes the main structure made of composite wood material.
  • The image or design layer comes next and gives the floorboard the pattern or design that HDF floors are known for.
  • The wear layer lies at the top and is made of several layers of clear resin. The resin helps to protect the HDF board against everyday wear and scratches. It keeps moisture out, as well. 

The backing layer is the most vulnerable of the four.

If you spill a little water onto the floor, do not be worried. Simply get a towel or mop to wipe it off and that will be all.

However, if water is allowed to stay longer and seep through the wear layer of the flooring, the bottom layer can get damaged. Once it gets wet and ruined, the only option you have is to replace it. To prevent this, you should waterproof the HDF flooring as this will add to its durability, save you time and money.

How to keep your HDF flooring safe from water damage?

To enjoy the beauty of HDF flooring, and save it from water damage, your best option is to waterproof it.

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Is a hardboard the same as HDF?

HDF is also referred to as a hardboard as it is a composite material created out of compressing small particles with glue in a hydraulic press.

Hardboard is formed when sawdust is compressed with heat under intense pressure. The density of the finished product depends on the size of the particles that you use.

There are different types of hardboard.

  1. Tempered hardboard, which is the hardest of all.
  2. MDF, (medium density fiberboard) which is the standard hardboard material, and is not as hard as a tempered hardboard.
  3. High-density fiberboard is the premium version of hardboards.
  4. The economy hardboard is the cheaper version of tempered hardboards.

What is the difference between moisture resistant and waterproof?

Moisture resistant is the ability to resist the penetration of water or moisture to some degree but not entirely. It can repel moisture to a point. After prolonged exposure, moisture will work its way through the material.

Waterproof is a term for something totally sealed or protected from the effects of water. Water will not be able to penetrate through the material at all no matter how much time it spends on it.

Should I use HDF for my bathroom cabinets?

In a bathroom where there is a lot of moisture, HDF is the preferable choice over solid wood. HDF is waterproof, does not warp or crack when exposed to changes in temperature and humidity and is not vulnerable to insect infestation.

HDF is durable and due to its nature, especially when it’s waterproof, mould can hardly grow on it regardless of how much it gets in contact with water.

Can I use my electric drill on an HDF board?

Yes, you can use an electric drill on your HDF. The HDF can be cut into sizes and drilled just like you do with natural wood but use the electric drill with caution. Drilling a hole in an engineered beam with shaky hands can lead to a considerable cost to replace or repair if you are not careful. 


Move over, solid wood. There’s a new kid on the block. The High-Density Fiberboard (HDF).

If you have any house renovation or furniture refurbishment projects that demand a large piece of wood with no joints, HDF should be the recommended choice. HDF is mostly reserved for projects such as high use furniture, laminate flooring, door skins and backing panels. Among all the engineered wood flooring that are moisture-resistant, HDF stands out as the best choice.

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