Solid wood versus chipboard and MDF board - a not entirely objective comparison

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Furniture is made from many different materials. Some consumers basically swear by the latest trends and love to change furniture more often in order to change their living environment and experience variety. There are consumers who choose naturalness and durability when choosing their furniture. Many people consciously opt for wooden furniture because it creates a natural living atmosphere and a pleasant room climate. This raises the question for some furniture buyers: Should I invest in high-quality furniture made of solid wood or should I rather choose supposedly cheaper pieces of furniture made of MDF or chipboard?

The following guide provides a good overview of the advantages and disadvantages of solid wood and MDF or chipboard. You will also learn how to bring a unique and at the same time trendy furnishing style into your home with furniture made of solid wood.

At a glance:

The special character of solid wood

Wood "lives". It is a natural building material that is robust and hard-wearing and that reacts to influences from the immediate environment, such as moisture or solar radiation. The characteristic grain and warm color tone make wood a material that radiates vitality and uniqueness.

The advantages of solid wood furniture

Wooden furniture creates a pleasant room climate and gives the room a warm and natural atmosphere. The sight of a piece of furniture from the raw material grown in woods or forests with its typical peculiarities delights every viewer. One feels at one with nature when surrounded by solid wood furnishings. Pieces of furniture made of wood have an unobtrusive and harmonious look, which is why they fit perfectly into any room.

Natural wood is a material that can be easily processed and designed by a specialist. There are no limits to the variety of designers. Contemporary floating constructions can also be realized particularly well with pieces of furniture made of wood. With the new ideas of a contemporary design, it is fun to beautify the home while providing the trendy natural look.

Carpenters particularly appreciate the qualities of oak wood. The oak is characterized by a beautiful structure and an attractive colour. The grain and coloring differ depending on the type of oak processed into wooden boards. The color of oak wood can range from light brown or whitish to intense red tones.

A treatment to seal and protect the surface is easy with natural wood. Natural substances such as oils or waxes are ideal for treating the furniture. Especially after applying a wax, the furniture is well protected against the ingress of liquids.

Longevity matters

Over time, intensive use can cause small damaged areas in the wood, such as scratches. You can simply remove them by sanding them off. The surface then looks like new again. This ensures that the piece of furniture will last for many years or even decades. A high-quality piece of furniture in excellent carpentry quality can even accompany you for a lifetime.

What is MDF and what is it made of?

The abbreviation MDF stands for medium-density fiberboard. To produce the MDF, finely defibrated wood, which is largely free of the tree bark, is pressed into an even wood material.

MDF or chipboard - a bad compromise

As this description already suggests, this form of processing the actually valuable raw material wood only retains a very limited amount of its typical aesthetic and natural properties. Rather, the result is an industrial product characterized by uniformity and a matt appearance. Above all, the elasticity of the wood is lost, which can only have a negative effect on the quality and resilience of the furniture and which limits creativity when designing furniture.

The worst, however, is the addition of urea-formaldehyde resins to glue the shredded wood fibers. These synthetic resins lead to harmful emissions from the chipboard and thus have a lasting impact on the quality of the indoor air. A natural atmosphere and a feeling of security and contentment at the sight of the naturally grown material wood with its annual rings, knotholes and its characteristic grain wither away in the presence of these pressboards to a longing memory.

Friends of an unpolluted, pollutant-free room climate will not be happy with MDF or chipboard in the long term. Rather, health damage is to be feared due to the toxic vapors from the furniture made of MDF and chipboard, which impairs the quality of life.

The disadvantages of chipboard are obvious

The treatment for wood protection is not quite as easy with MDF chipboard as with natural wood. MDF boards are very absorbent and therefore you need a lot of oil to seal the surface. In most cases, the surface sealing of chipboard is done with paint and, if necessary, an additional nano-sealing, which poses further health risks due to escaping harmful substances.

Damage to pressboards cannot simply be removed by sanding down. If wood veneers are applied to the panels, they are very thin and do not allow several millimeters to be sanded off so easily. So you'll either have to live with the scratches on the furniture, or you'll have to think about buying a new piece of furniture, which is ultimately more expensive and time-consuming than repairing damage to solid wood.

Conclusion: solid wood versus chipboard

You are faced with the question of which interior items to give preference, solid furniture made of natural wood or those made of MDF or chipboard. At first glance, the living elements made of MDF appear to be cheaper. But if you take a closer look, you can clearly see the enormous advantages of the living elements made of solid wood. You not only bring the wonderful and harmonious atmosphere of nature into your living space, so to speak, but you are making a purchase for a long period of time, maybe even for your whole life. Because damage to the wooden furniture can be easily compensated by sanding and the well-made wooden boards are very durable over long periods of time. Because of its neutral look and combination options with other furnishings, the wooden furniture never loses its topicality, but is always and everywhere perfect for a harmonious room design. In this way, the higher acquisition costs are offset if the wooden furniture is used for a longer period of time. Above all, you are more on the safe side with wooden furniture compared to living elements made of MDF or chipboard because you avoid the toxic vapors from the glues and varnishes.

FAQ: Frequently asked questions about solid wood furniture

What is the difference between solid wood furniture and furnishings made of MDF or chipboard?

Solid wood furniture is made from natural wood. The boards are sawn from the tree trunks and assembled from several pieces to form wooden panels of the desired shape and size.
MDF or chipboard consists of wood fibers that are pressed into chipboard with the addition of glue. A thin real wood veneer is often applied to these panels.

Is solid wood furniture very expensive?

The purchase price of wooden furniture in good carpentry quality is higher than the purchase price for furniture made of MDF or chipboard. However, furniture made of solid wood is more durable and durable, and damage to the furniture can be easily compensated. With the purchase of solid wood furniture, you are making a one-off, long-term investment. As a result, the purchase price is relatively cheap compared to buying furniture made of chipboard over a longer period of time.

Can damage to the furniture be repaired?

With solid wood furniture, you can even out the damage that occurs over time through daily wear and tear by sanding it down. This is not easily possible with furniture made of MDF or chipboard.

How are the surfaces protected from penetrating moisture?

Natural wooden furniture can be well protected from moisture with wax. Protective coatings are usually applied to chipboard.

Is wooden furniture easy to clean?

Yes, you can easily clean them with a duster or a damp cloth.

Is solid wood furniture always trendy?

The solid wood furniture is timeless and can always be combined harmoniously with other furnishings. Their natural look will inspire and delight you for many years to come.

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  • Markus Schroer