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MDF vs Hardwood for Your Kitchen Cabinets

When designing or replacing kitchen cabinets, you’ll need to come to a decision on what type of materials you want your cabinets made out of. The common debate is between hardwood and MDF (medium-density fiberwood) material. Even if you already have your mind set on one of the two, you may be surprised to learn of some pros and cons associated with each. 

Hardwood Advantages

Two of the biggest advantages of hardwood for your kitchen cabinets are aesthetics and durability. It’s not surprising that natural, organic wood is chosen for its aesthetic appeal over MDF kitchen cabinets. Natural wood will look good stained or painted and incorporate the natural textures of the wood into your kitchen design. Design-wise, natural wood is very versatile and can be presented in many different ways. 

The durability of natural hardwood is much higher than fabricated MDF kitchen cabinets. Different types of wood will have different levels of durability and strength, but most wood will last longer than any MDF kitchen cabinets. 

Value and Customization

Since natural hardwood is more durable than MDF, it can be shaped and altered into different sizes, shapes, and colors. Changing natural hardwood’s shape or design will be more likely to keep its strength and durability afterward. If you’re looking to incorporate a unique shape or design into your kitchen cabinets, hardwood cabinets can get the job done, but may require some extra precision as natural wood has organic abnormalities. 

Using hardwood for your kitchen cabinets will add to the value of your kitchen. Since hardwood lasts longer with more durability than MDF kitchen cabinets, they will add to the value of your home and kitchen, if you ever decide to sell your home. 

MDF Advantages

MDF, or medium-density fiberboard, is a combination of wood fiber, resin, and wax. MDF is one of the strongest engineered hardwood, and so is often used in place of natural hardwood. MDF kitchen cabinets can be considered more durable than hardwood cabinets in a specific way: MDF kitchen cabinets do not warp or crack due to temperature or humidity. 

MDF kitchen cabinets have a smoother surface texture making them the perfect choice for painting. Compared to natural hardwood that come with rough, bumpy textures, MDF hardwood is mostly flat and smooth. 

Value and Customization

Since MDF kitchen cabinets are cheaper to build than hardwood kitchen cabinets, MDF kitchen cabinets won’t necessarily add to the value of your home. Rather, they will save you money during construction by providing you with reliable and affordable materials. Choosing MDF kitchen cabinets may save you hundreds of dollars during your kitchen renovation.

Since MDF is engineered hardwood, it can be more forgiving than natural hardwood if trying to change the shape and size of the wood. MDF hardwood can also be customized for different environments. If you plan to build cabinets in your bathroom, you can find water-resistant MDF hardwood that will hold up against water much better than other materials. 

Disadvantages of Each

There are pros and cons to both natural wood kitchen cabinets and MDF kitchen cabinets. It’s up to you and details of your project which one you’ll ultimately choose. Natural wood will bring value and beautiful aesthetics to your kitchen, while MDF kitchen cabinets will be more affordable and customizable than the hardwood. 


More than likely, your kitchen cabinets will suffer some damage at some point. Scratches to natural hardwood can be sanded and repainted or restrained, while MDF wood will be easily scratched and cannot be sanded down. Keep this in mind if you’re planning to build your cabinets in high traffic areas, or even outside.

MDF and Hardwood Cabinets at Cleveland Cabinets

Cleveland Cabinets has several options available for any of your cabinets. Whatever material, style, or shape you might be looking for, we’re sure to have it! Visit one of our showrooms to see what we have in stock. Come to our website or call (216) 459-7676 for more information!

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