What Is HDF? Everything You Need To Know

June 15, 2020

Move over, Solid Wood. There’s a new kid on the block.

HDF might not be the first material that comes to mind when you think of cabinet doors, but it's actually a great alternative to solid wood and might even be the superior choice for your kitchen project.

First of all: What is HDF?

High Density Fiberboard (HDF) is an engineered wood product composed of wood fiber extracted from chips and pulped wood waste, formed by glue under immense pressure and heat. When it comes to engineered wood, HDF is a step above MDF and plywood.

In fact, there’s even a step above HDF. Super-Refined HDF (SRHDF) is like HDF, but uses smaller chips and pulped wood waste which results in a stronger and more durable material. Both HDF and SRHDF have all of the attributes of solid wood, but unlike wood, they do not have any grain and resists cracking in temperature and humidity changes.

HDF Cabinet Door Styles


What are the benefits of HDF and SRHDF?

No Graining

Since HDF and SRHDF are made from very fine particles, there is no noticeable grain. Which results in a better and smoother finish for painting.

HDF cabinet doors, no grain

No Cracking

When you paint your solid wood cabinet doors, there is always a chance that paint can crack over time. Wood is an organic substance that expands and contracts when humidity levels rise and drop. And because of that movement, your painted cabinet doors can eventually crack where the panels meet the rails.

Paint Cracks On Solid Wood Cabinets

Unlike solid wood, HDF and SRHDF do not crack - even under severe fluctuations in temperature and humidity, completely maintaining the integrity of the finish.

No Paint Cracks On HDF Cabinet Doors

No Warping

Similar with cracking, wood has a tendency to warp when temperatures fluctuate. Which over time, causes unsightly gaps in your cabinetry. HDF, however, does not experience movement from expansion and contraction like traditional hardwoods do, so there's no warping.


HDF and SRHDF are great options for a kitchen on a budget. They are affordable, inexpensive options that are just as strong as wood with a similar look and feel.

Is HDF the right choice for you?

HDF and SRHDF are great alternatives to solid wood, but like any material, they are not perfect for every project. We recommend using HDF and SRHDF on indoor cabinetry only since they are not designed to handle outdoor weather. And it's also important to note that one of the biggest problems cabinetmakers have when working with HDF and SRHDF are the design options. Since they are routed on CNC machines, there are limitations and they can't be customized as easily as solid wood can.

As a cabinetmaker, it’s important to understand all materials and different types of cabinet doors so you can make the right choice for your project. And when it comes to cabinet doors, we highly recommend SRHDF. It’s an affordable option that offers a smoother finish with a higher resistance to changing temperatures.



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