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Solid Wood vs MDF vs HDF vs Plywood for Furniture

#Furniture Design

When it comes to choosing wood for furniture, there are various options available, including solid wood, MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard), HDF (High Density Fiberboard), and plywood. Each of these materials has its own characteristics and purposes. In this article, we will discuss the features of each material and provide additional information to help you make an informed decision.

Solid Wood

Solid wood is made entirely from real lumber obtained directly from trees. It does not include any other types of wood or composites. The characteristics of solid wood can vary depending on the type of wood used, such as Maple, Teak, Oak, Redwood, Mahogany, etc.

This means that carpenters can choose the type of solid wood based on the color and texture required for a specific piece of furniture or structure.

Solid wood is highly durable and can last for decades. However, it is not resistant to constant exposure to moisture. If you live in a coastal area or have furniture that will be exposed to moisture regularly, special treatment may be required.

Engineered Wood

Engineered wood is a category of building products and materials that are designed to mimic the appearance and behavior of real wood while being stronger and more durable. It is made by binding pieces of real wood, scrap wood, shredded wood fibers, or sawdust with adhesives.

There are several types of engineered woods available:


Plywood is an expensive type of engineered wood that comes in different qualities and thicknesses. It consists of thin sheets of wood veneer laminated in alternating directions. Plywood provides rigidity to structures due to its hardness. Its cross-grain pattern allows it to hold nails and screws firmly. Additionally, plywood is more moisture-resistant compared to other types of engineered woods.

MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)

MDF is composed of very fine wood fibers that are adhered and compressed under high pressure.

The surface of MDF is smooth, consistent, and easy to paint, making it suitable for furniture like cabinets, shelves, door framing, and paneling. MDF boards are cheaper and can be used for less important structures.

Previously, MDF was perceived as being less sturdy compared to solid wood. Nonetheless, improvements in technology and production techniques have resulted in the creation of top-quality MDF boards that possess impressive durability.

The durability of MDF is influenced by various factors including the dimensions of the board, uniformity, the adhesive employed, and the specific fibers utilized in the manufacturing process.

HDF (High Density Fiberboard)

HDF is a stronger and harder type of engineered wood compared to MDF. HDF boards are highly durable and can withstand several years without damage. However, due to their thinness, they are unsuitable for skirting boards but are appropriate for making backing panels in furniture.


In conclusion, when choosing furniture or materials for interior work, it is important to consider the characteristics and purposes of different types of wood products available in the market. Solid wood offers durability but may not be suitable for moisture-prone areas. On the other hand, engineered woods like plywood, MDF, and HDF provide strength and durability at varying price points depending on the specific requirements of your project.

In terms of pricing in India (per sq. ft), plywood ranges from Rs.80 to Rs.220; MDF ranges from Rs.50 to Rs.190; and HDF ranges from Rs.50 to Rs.170.