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The Plyco plywood and veneer blog provides product information, practical tips, and project inspiration for completing DIY, architectural & professional projects. Expert plywood product tutorials and catalogue updates will have you completing your project in no time.

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MDF vs Plywood

This post is part of Plyco’s Guide to MDF.

If you think the same way as the team here at Plyco then you probably like to do as much research as possible when it comes to starting a new project, particularly for the materials and resources you’ll be using. Often we’ll find that customers will narrow their selection down to MDF or Plywood. However, this battle can end up becoming a sticking point. To help settle the score and give you the chance to pick a winner in the MDF vs Plywood debate, we’ve put together this post to give you all the facts, figures, and details.

If you’re looking for a complete overview of both of these products, we have guides to Plywood and MDF that go into detail about the history of each board and how they are manufactured.

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One of the big advantages our 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 for those who are after an architectural finish. However, the natural texture and colour of our higher end Plywood products win out, largely thanks to their face quality. When you have a piece of Hoop Pine or Birch Plywood with A-Grade faces, it can be pretty hard to compete no matter who you are!


Plyco's Hoop Pine Plywood.

Another advantage is that while we do stock a few different Moisture Resistant varieties 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 a direct result of Marine Plywood being 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. You’ll get years of perfect use out of Moisture Resistant MDF if used for cabinetry or shelving in water-prone rooms like your bathroom or laundry, but you’ll run into some issues the more extravagant you get. For these high-end applications, we’ll point someone towards a Hoop Pine Marine Plywood or even a Gaboon Marine Plywood to make sure the end product comes out perfectly.

So, what does MDF bring to the table in this fight? One of its the greatest advantages is the one you’ll find the quickest when comparing it to pretty much any Plywood product you can find on this planet; it’s cheaper. The most expensive sheets we stock at Plyco are not that much more expensive than the cheapest options when it comes to Marine Plywood products, and when comparing regular sheets it’s a no-contest. The lower price point means it’s a winner in situations where either product can be used for an application, and it can be a lifesaver when it comes to your project’s budget and your bank balance.


The versatility of an MDF product is also a massive plus. It is perfect for so many different types of projects, which, when combined with the cheap cost makes it one of the most popular items at Plyco. There’s a reason it’s constantly flying off our shelves (which also happen to be made out of the same product!) Whether it’s shelving, cabinetry, benches, door frames, window sills, or skirting boards, MDF is more often than not a go-to option. Plywood can be used for many of these options too, but for some of those applications, it can become a bit pricey, and when it comes to physical attributes they may not fare as strongly.

Ultimately, choosing which product is better mostly comes down to what you’re planning to use it for. Depending on variables like your application, where it’s going to be located, how much weight it needs to hold, and your proposed budget, you’re going to find a different winner each time. Either way, most of the time you can’t go wrong picking up a an MDF sheet or a Plywood board.


If you’re itching to get a close look at some of our MDF or Plywood products, head over to our online store where you can browse our vast lineup. If you want to absorb a little more knowledge check out some of our other guide posts, such as how to paint MDF, or our in-depth look at the different sizes and thicknesses available for MDF.


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