This post is part of Plyco’s Guide to Marine Plywood and gives a high-level summary of the differences between Marine Plywood and Medium Density Fibreboard.
Marine Plywood and Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF as it’s more commonly referred to) are two products that are radically different yet also reasonably similar in a number of ways. Because of these similarities, they can both be used for the same applications at times, resulting in both confusion and a tough decision when it’s time to pick one. Because of this, we decided to set both types of Plywood against each other so you can decide for yourself which one is right for your project.
The Advantages of Marine Plywood
One of the big advantages Marine Plywood has over an MDF product is its aesthetic appeal. Now, that’s not to say MDF is ugly, quite the contrary actually! Standard MDF still looks pretty darn good and we also have Veneered MDF and Melamine MDF available as well. However, the natural texture and colour of our higher end Marine products edge out MDF, largely thanks to their face quality. When you have a piece of Hoop Pine AA Marine Plywood that is A-Grade on both faces, it’s pretty hard to compete no matter who you are!
Another advantage is that while we do stock a Moisture Resistant variety of MDF, it’s not suitable for many of the applications Marine Plywood is designed for. This isn’t necessarily a failing of MDF, but rather evidence that Marine Plywood is specifically designed for these purposes. Boat building and dock building with Marine Plywood is encouraged, while building these same projects with MDF is not recommended.
The Advantages of MDF
Right off the bat, one of the greatest advantages of an MDF product is the one you’ll find the quickest when comparing it to Marine Plywood; it’s cheaper. The most expensive MDF sheets we stock at Plyco are not that much more expensive than our cheaper Marine products. MDF's lower price point means it’s a winner in situations where either of them can be used for an application.
MDF is perfect for many different types of projects, which combined with the cheap cost, makes it a very popular item. Whether it’s shelving, cabinetry, benches, door frames, window sills, or skirting boards, MDF is your go-to option. Now, Marine Plywood can be used for many of these options too, but for some of those applications, it may become a bit pricey.
The Similarities Between MDF and Marine Plywood
A pretty big similarity between our Marine Plywood range and the Moisture Resistant MDF variety is that they can both be used for exterior projects, or in situations where it realistically could have to deal with water and moisture. Regular MDF does not do well with water and will actually swell up considerably if exposed to a lot of it, so always make sure you have the Moisture Resistant option and have properly sealed it before using it around wet areas.
Another strong similarity between MDF and Marine Plywood is that they’re both, well, strong! MDF is well-known for its structural capabilities, which are largely attributed to the special production process and makes it a stronger and denser choice than Particle Board. Amongst all of the bells and whistles that make it essentially waterproof, a lot of people forget or overlook the fact that it has outstanding strength capabilities and can do most of the exact same things as an MDF board.
If you’ve now got a clearer understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, and similarities between MDF and Marine Plywood, head over to Plyco’s online store to browse our entire range. If you’d like to learn more about Marine Ply we suggest checking out our blog posts on The Key Differences Between Marine Plywood and Exterior Plywood and the Top Marine Plywood Applications.