MDF or Solid Wood for a Face Frame
From the original questioner:
Does your answer also apply to making the case out of MDF? Should I be using 9 ft birch plywood to enhance durablity?
From contributor A:
Yes and no. In terms of durability, yes, the plywood is a more durable product that, with everything else being equal, should outlast the MDF or particle board construction. I'm guessing you are looking to hit a lower price point however, in which case using particleboard or MDF will do the job. Personally, I prefer plywood for boxes and particleboard for panel doors where I need them to stay flat. I'm not a fan of MDF as I don't trust it to hold fasteners well, and it's heavy.
Face frames are a different story as they generally suffer from more wear and tear, especially at the edges. It also makes installing hardware more iffy when using hinges, stops, or catches that attach to the face frame.
From contributor B:
I only use MDF for paint grade panels, face frames are paint grade poplar or some soft maple for the best.
From contributor C:
MDF is great for paint grade panels. It's flatter and paints better than anything else. It's not so great for face frames, especially if you're hanging doors off of it. Narrow strips of MDF are prone to splitting from nails and screws, and it takes about 5 coats of paint to make the edges look good. Poplar or soft maple are good, economical choices. I also use alder sometimes with good results.
From contributor D:
Another vote here for maple or poplar face frames. We did a paint grade kitchen 15 years ago with poplar face frames, and if I had it to do over, I'd use maple. It's pretty banged up now.
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