A lot of everyday wooden products — furniture, cabinets, etc. — are made of either melamine-faced chipboard or MDF. So what sets the two apart from each other?
Melamine-faced chipboard is made from fine woodchips, while MDF is made from refined fiber residues. Both are processed and turned into boards using solid adhesives.
This article will go into more detail on the differences between the two materials. It’ll also discuss their respective advantages and disadvantages. Finally, I’ll also discuss what furniture and equipment can use either material.
Differences Between Melamine-Faced Chipboard and MDF
The differences between melamine-face chipboard and MDF lie in the material they’re made from and the processes used to make them.
How Melamine-Faced Chipboard Is Made
The creation of melamine-faced chipboard starts with the collection and fining of woodchips. Factory equipment cuts and processes the chips, which are then dried.
Since some wood chips can be larger than necessary, these are separated from the finer ones. The chips will be glued together into one cohesive material and adjusted according to the desired thickness. Finally, they’ll be pressed and cut into pieces.
As for the melamine, it’s pressed onto the boards. Urea is then chemically manipulated to form cyanuric acid, and the acid is further altered to create melamine. Clumps of melamine are flattened into sheets and cut to fit traditional chipboards. They’re heated and pressed together to form melamine-faced chipboards.
How MDF Is Made
Medium-density fibreboard (MDF), on the other hand, is made from wood residue from hardwood and different log types. Much like chipboard, MDF starts with processing woodchips into uniform sizes.
Foreign objects such as twigs, small rocks, and dirt will be removed from the mixture through filtering. Magnets are also used to remove metals. The filtered mixture will then be steamed to extract the resin. Since the material is now soft, it can be easily turned into fiber using the defibrator.
A special adhesive is applied to the fiber to make it cohesive. It will then be dried using steam or hot gases to further stabilize the board. Finally, it’s compressed according to the desired thickness and density and cut into pieces.
- Generally, the wood chips should make the entire board intolerant to water. But since there’s a melamine finish, this isn’t too much of a problem.
- The melamine makes it resistant to scratches and stains.
- Commercial melamine is often combined with formaldehyde to create melamine resin, which has a high tolerance to heat and is a fire retardant due to the phenolic layer on the board. The high nitrogen content also adds to its ability to resist high heat.
- The melamine layer is also separate from the actual chipboard, which means you can choose the design regardless of how the melamine looks.
- The first disadvantage is the weight, as melamine-faced chipboards tend to be heavier.
- The adhesive for the chipboard also tends to be lacking, which makes it prone to chipping.
- If the sides of your chipboard aren’t melamine-faced, water can enter, causing bumps and altering the board’s appearance.
- Since the MDF is highly compressed, it cuts really easily.
- It’s also stable because of the synthetic adhesive.
- The fiber makes it absorbent to paint.
- The finish is easy to polish, especially if you’re going for that glossy look.
- MDF doesn’t tolerate moisture well. Once water gets into your MDF furniture, it will swell and turn ugly quickly. You’ll have to either treat it to absorb moisture or put it in a place away from windows and anywhere else moisture might enter.
- MDF also tends to be challenging to install because the compactness makes drilling nails and screws quite troublesome. You may have to hire professional help to help you out with any projects that involve MDFs.
Where Can I Use Melamine-Faced Chipboards?
Melamine-faced chipboards make excellent drawers, cabinets, and other decorative pieces of furniture. You can also use them in your baby or pet rooms since they tend to be scratch-resistant. The heat resistance also makes them great for countertops. Finally, the melamine face’s water resistance means they work well for tables.
Where Can I Use MDF?
MDF makes excellent chairs due to their stability. It also makes for decent cupboards for dry ingredients as well as your dried kitchen equipment. They’re also a welcome addition to your bedroom and living room since they’re easy to cut and absorbent to paint.
Both melamine-faced chipboards and MDFs offer numerous advantages for people who like wooden items. Go with the chipboard if you’re looking for resistance to the elements and general versatility. But if you’re after stability, durability, and overall aesthetic, it would be better to stick with the MDF.