Thread: MDF
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Old 31-08-03, 10:03 AM
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RobM RobM is offline
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Nottingham, England
Posts: 352

MDF panels are manufactured from dried wood fibres which are bonded together under heat and high pressure using Urea Formaldehyde resin. The pressed panels are fine sanded to a smooth and consistent appearance.
Formaldehyde is the main cause for concern in the manufacturing and subsequent cutting and machining process. The industry is searching for an alternative bonding resin.

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) is universally used in the manufacture of furniture, cabinets, door parts, mouldings, millwork and laminate flooring. This leads me suspect that once the machining and cutting is completed there is little risk from the formaldehyde resin. If it is safe enough for the above home applications then surely it must be safe enough as a support for painting.

I have used MDF for well over 15 years now and so far none of the panels made up then show any signs of deterioration. I have experienced warping but put that down to possible inferior brands. I make up the gesso panels as large as possible and then cut them to size. This seems to minimize the effects of warping. It is also best to apply almost an equal number of coats of gesso to the reverse of the panel and to do so in one session. That is, one coat on the front, allow to touch dry, then apply a layer to the reverse and so on.
Good information on this site.