Thursday, March 10, 2016

IKEA Cabinets (fiberboard and MDF) or WOOD?

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It comes down to what you prefer. But you need data so do your research. Know what you are paying for. Some of the PARTICLE BOARD styles are NOT CHEAP. You will pay thousands for particle board cabinets. 

Which IKEA styles are PARTICLE BOARD?

GRIMSLOV (medium brown)

Which IKEA styles are Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
GRIMSLOV (white)

IKEA cabinets are either particle board (lower end) or MDF (medium density fiberboard). Make sure you consider this when you choose your style. Higher quality cabinets are usually plywood.

Particle board is a waste-wood product made by heat pressing wood chips, sawmill shavings, or even sawdust and resin together. To make it water resistant, fireproof, and/or insect-proof, various chemicals are used including wax and dyes. After the resin, chemicals, and wood scraps have all been mixed together, the mixture is made into a sheet and compressed. 

Low cost
Good for ready-made inexpensive furniture

Low strength - cannot support heavy load
Not as eco-friendly as wood for furniture
Expands or discolors around moisture

What is MDF?
MDF stands for medium-density fiberboard, which is an engineered wood composite made up of wood fibers. Because the MDF is composed of small wood fibers, there is no visible wood grain, rings, or knots. The making of the composite uses the fibers, glue, and heat to create a tight bonding board. Both softwood and hardwood are used to manufacture MDF. Generally denser than plywood, this composition creates a strong material for building. Use a veneer sealant to prevent water damage. Two types of fiberboard are moisture resistant (which is typically blue) and fire retardant.


  • Low cost
  • Smooth, no splinters
  • Easy to paint
  • Easy to cut
  • Denser and stronger than particle board
  • No wood grain


  • MDF is heavy
  • Cannot be stained
  • Can dull cutting blades quickly

What is Plywood?
Plywood is an engineered wood product made up of sheets of wood veneer. The wood veneer boards are pressed and bonded together to create one solid piece. This manufacturing process reduces shrinkage and expansion while improving strength. Different grades of plywood are used for different purposes. Plywood grades are affected by many variables including the type of wood, thickness, adhesive, and manufacturing/compaction process. Lower grades are perfect for subflooring in buildings and homes. High grades can be used for cabinets and shelving.


Very Strong Material
Less susceptible to water damage
Stainable and paintable
Holds screws well
Possible to purchase with low or no VOCs.


More Expensive
Have to Finish Edges 
Difficult to Cut

Conclusion: When buying cabinets you could choose any three of these wood composites. Most people will prefer plywood, although it costs more, for the cabinet frame because it holds screws well and takes paint and stain well. The plywood's multiple wood layers make the cabinets lightweight, yet strong and durable. Lower quality home items, such as a shelving unit, could be built with MDF to save money. Particle board is the last choice. It's cheap but for a major project, it's not recommended. 

If you want the most for your money, an elegant kitchen for the lowest cost, call or write for tips and info on professional design, which is the key.


P.S. I am happy to talk with you. I can usually offer guidance and tips that save time, money and stress. We offer a FREE 30-minute IKEA kitchen planning consultation