Thanks to its consistency, durability, and affordability, MDF is one of the most popular construction materials for projects, and even some home renovation works. From cabinetry and furniture to wainscoting and even door frames, the versatility of MDF translates in a number of ways.
However, one of the defining disadvantages of MDF is that it’s not receptive to screws or drilling unless prepared properly due to its composition of small particles. As such, to effectively join MDF pieces together, you need some sort of adhesive.
This leads to the commonly asked question, “Can you use wood glue on MDF?” The short answer is: yes! You certainly can. To learn what kind of glue works best with this material, keep reading.
What Is MDF?
Before we start, let’s learn a bit about MDF. Medium-density fiberboard, or MDF, is a material made by combining the residues of softwood and hardwood (basically, wood chips) with resin and wax. The result is basically an upgraded version of particleboard.
What Are the Advantages of Building with MDF?
Numerous reasons make MDF as popular as it is today. To begin with, its affordability is a major point, particularly when compared to wood or plywood.
Furthermore, unlike real wood, the artificial quality of MDF makes it so, that there are no splinters or voids. And finally, it’s perfectly compatible with woodworking tools!
Can You Use Wood Glue on MDF?
As we have seen, MDF has wooden components. Because of this part of its composition, MDF is highly receptive to wood glue.
So yes, wood glue is a perfect choice if you’re looking for a good adhesive to help you with your new MDF project. Given that most wood glue is PVA-based (polyvinyl acetate), it sets quickly and promises to securely hold your MDF pieces together.
However, it’s also important to note that most PVA-based glues are water-soluble, meaning they will break down when exposed to water. If you expect your MDF piece to come into contact with water, look for wood glue that is not PVA-based, such as epoxy wood adhesive or cyanoacrylate (CA) glue.
Wondering how best to join MDF pieces together using wood glue? Find our step-by-step guide below!
How to Attach MDF with Wood Glue
Once you have your wood glue, you can get to work. Here’s a short description of how that’s done.
Step 1: Clean the MDF surfaces
Before you can start, it’s important to prep your MDF pieces by cleaning them. Using a soft cloth, wipe down the parts of the MDF, which will be joined together. This way, it gets rid of dirt and dust and ensures that the wood glue will bond properly.
Step 2: Apply the wood glue
Choose a wood glue that has a container designed to dispense adhesive smoothly. Using the bottle, apply the glue carefully. If you’re working with a large surface, lay down the glue in a wavy pattern to ensure that all surfaces will be covered properly.
Step 3: Spread the glue
Using a spatula or spreader, spread the glue that you have just laid down. This allows for an even coating.
Try to spread out the glue such that the edges of your MDF pieces have a thinner layer. This stops the glue from escaping when you join your pieces together.
Step 4: Attach the pieces
Once the glue is in place, you can now attach your two MDF pieces together. Then, gently rub the pieces against each other to ensure that the glue levels out even better.
Step 5: Check the alignment
Using clamps, ensure that the MDF pieces are sitting squarely with each other.
Step 6: Inspect for residue
Any remaining wet glue must now be disposed of. For this, you can use a wet cloth or paper towel, as water dissolves most wood glue. Now let the workpiece remain overnight, allowing the adhesive to set properly.
Step 7: Scrape off any excess
After drying, if you see any dried glue, get rid of it using a chisel or scraper. Then you’re all set!
Tips for Working with MDF
If you’re inexperienced in working with MDF, the following precautions will help you have a smoother working experience.
1. Don’t let your MDF touch water
This is very important. Due to its composition, MDF swells up to double its original thickness if soaked in water. It’s basically like a sponge. Yes, moisture-resistant MDF is available for use in areas having high humidity, but it’s not completely waterproof.
2. Use a nailer instead of a hammer
Due to how tough MDF is, any nails you try hammering into it will bend. As such, the best alternative is to use a nailer.
Even better if you can avoid nailing entirely because as we have discussed, most MDF does not take well to drilling unless specialized for the purpose.
3. Prime with a solvent-based primer
Unlike its face, the edges of MDF are not smooth. As such, if you’re going to be painting it, remember to use a primer first. Even better if you sand it first using 100-grit sandpaper.
4. Wear protective gear
If you have experience with woodworking, you know how much dust it can produce. The same is doubly true for MDF. So when working with MDF, make sure to wear protective gear for your eyes and mouth. If you’re working indoors, cover everything with plastic sheets.
The next time someone asks you, “can you use wood glue on MDF?” You’ll be able to tell them, “yes!” However, it’s important to remember that no glue type is perfect for using with MDF. It all depends on the needs of your project and what you’re trying to achieve.
For heavy-duty MDF projects, look into wood glues made by Titebond or Gorilla. And for less demanding adhesion needs, Elmer’s glue or Loctite works just fine. Whichever you go with though, make sure to do your research. Good luck!