Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF)
MDF comes midway between Hardboards (such as Masonite) and Softboard, which is often used for insulation. MDF, which is more like a typical timber, is available as mouldings as well as sheets.
MDF is a glued timber product, usually manufactured from plantation thinnings. According to the Timber Trader Journal back in November 1992, MDF products were even then gradually replacing many hardwood components in the furniture industry. Indeed, Timber Trader reported that MDF production was then increasing worldwide as consumers took up new opportunities to make the most efficient use of wood.
MDF can be used as a substitute for rainforest timbers in a number of ways. For example, it is increasingly being used for doors and door-surrounds, decorative mouldings, rails, skirtings and cornices.
MDF products can also be given a solid wood appearance by wrapping the MDF in a wood veneer. This saves on the use of solid timber and offers an excellent means of avoiding the use of tropical plywood.
Most MDF is not moisture-resistant and can only be used in dry, interior locations. However, some types are now specially produced for use in moist interior situations, such as bathrooms, laundries and kitchens – check with your timber merchant. All known types of MDF are pressure-bonded with Urea Formaldehyde resins, making them all potentially dangerous.
NB: There is apparently a hemp-based, formaldehyde-free MDF board on the market in Australia, but no details yet. A product called Urban Waste MDF, made from demolition timber and old pallets is being sold in the U.S. and Canada. Please let the Guide know if you hear of non-toxic glues or glued timbers on the market.
Listed below are common brand names for MDF:

  • Craftwood – is manufactured by Laminex Industries. Its plant in Gympie, Queensland uses Slash Pine thinnings and its plant in Wagga, New South Wales uses Radiata Pine thinnings.
  • Customwood – is manufactured by Canterbury Timber Products in Rangiora, New Zealand. Eighty percent of the chip in this material is Radiata Pine. The balance is made up of a mixture which includes Douglas Fir, Corsican Pine, Ponderosa, Willow and Poplar.
    • Fibron– is manufactured by CSR Wood Panels at its plant in Oberon, New South Wales. It is made from Radiata Pine thinnings.
  • GoldenEdge – is made by Nelson Pine Industries in Richmond, New Zealand. It is manufactured solely from plantation-grown Radiata Pine thinnings.
    • Lakepine – is manufactured by Fletcher Wood Panels in New Zealand. It is manufactured solely from plantation-grown Radiata Pine thinnings and sawdust.
  • Weswood – is manufactured by WESFI in Kewdale, Western Australia. It is manufactured from thinnings from the Gnangara Pinus Pinaster (Maritime Pine) plantations, among others.