MDF for Cabinets in an Oceanfront House

Thoughts about cabinetry for a salt-air environment. May 5, 2011

Iíve been asked to bid a kitchen and various other cabinetry for an ocean front home here in Northern CA. I was asked if MDF as substrate for the VG Doug fir doors/fronts would be an issue as MDF is so absorbent. My reply was that it is sealed MDF and it should be fine. Was I right? Come to think of it how about cup hinges and tandems? Will they turn green in time due to salt air?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor U:
While I have not done cabinets at the beach, we have installed quite a few interior shutters. While I have not had any issues with woods and paint finishes, I have has problems with our tiltrod staples and hinges tarnishing and actually rusting. Now we use, or at least recommend to customers, hardware that will not corrode, same with the staples. For the most part, the homes use the central air most of the time, which keeps moisture exposure to a limit, but the brief exposures of having the house open is enough to allow the salt air to contact the metals.

From contributor G:
You can use Medex instead of MDF. It is a water resistant MDF. Has a slight pink hue to it.

From contributor W:
Exteria is a highly moisture resistant MDF.

From contributor G:
It doesn't take a high end finish well, sort of grainy. But it is waterproof for exterior use and will last many years.

From the original questioner:
My guess is the hardware will be tarnished before anything happens to the finish and I was thinking Sugatsune as well. I was thinking Extira or Medex for substrate. Is it the same as MDF? VG Doug fir veneer gets laid over. Panels get laid up by a company that does this for a living, not me. Architect specified water based "Green" topcoat. Finish problem with that?

From contributor G:
Medex is exactly like MDF, except a different glue.