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MDF vs Solid Wood: What is the Best Wood for Kitchen Cabinets?

December 15, 2023
Wood cabinets inside Brookfield Residential Kitchen

In this article, we discuss which material to use for cabinet doors in your new home: MDF (medium density fiberboard) or wood. We explore what MDF is and compare it with wood in terms of cost, durability, and staining so you can make an informed decision about what will work best for you.

What is MDF?

MDF stands for medium density fiberboard. This type of wood is made out of recycled wood that’s been ground into little fibers, and then molded back into a board using glues. The main difference between MDF and solid wood is the fact that MDF is engineered while solid wood is natural.

MDF vs solid wood

So, what should you choose? MDF or Solid wood? That answer will be decided by a few factors. If you are looking to paint your cabinets rather than stain them, MDF is the better choice because it is grainless and not porous - making it the ideal material for paint. However, if you’re looking for a stained finish, solid wood will be your best choice as that same non-porous quality of MDF makes it impossible to stain.Next, think about the environment that these cabinets will be in. If you live in a humid climate or the cabinets will be placed in a room that can become humid, such as a bathroom, the humidity-resistant properties of MDF make it the best choice. This is because solid wood cabinets can retain moisture and swell or warp over time.Lastly, solid wood is beautiful and durable, but it costs more than MDF. It also results in scraps and unused bits due to imperfections in the wood, making MDF a more sustainable option.

Let’s go over the benefits and drawbacks of MDF and wood:

Benefits of MDF

  • Great for painting
  • Less expensive than wood
  • Resistant to moisture and humidity once sealed
  • Very durable
  • Less maintenance
  • No visible grains
  • Can be made in large sheets
  • More sustainable

Drawbacks of MDF

  • Not great for staining (not porous)
  • Has a different appearance than real wood

Benefits of wood

  • Natural and warm aesthetic
  • Versatile, allowing for various finishes and styles
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Can be refinished or painted
  • Eco-friendly and renewable resource

Drawbacks of wood

  • Prone to warping or damage
  • Can be more expensive
  • Regular maintenance required
  • Susceptible to scratches and dent
  • Limited color options 




There are benefits and drawbacks to using either solid wood or MDF for cabinets. Depending on the look you are going for or the location of the cabinets, one material may be better suited than the other. However, with proper care, both materials can last for generations. So, when it comes down to it, pick the material that you like the most.

For more interior design tips, check out our blog for helpful topics like the best indoor flowering plants to brighten your home and how big of a TV do you need for your home. If you would like more information or have questions about Brookfield Residential homes, take a look at the areas we have homes or contact us directly.