MDF for exterior project

Question Icon
Posted by: from Mississauga
6/29/2016 at 4:23:18 AM

Is MDF an excellent product for exterior renovation?

User Icon
Jason from London Renovations in London
Date/Time6/29/2016 at 10:12:40 AM

This is not an ideal product for exteriors as it does not handle moisture well. Its a paper based product and will quickly deteriorate.

User Icon
Daryl from Ridgewater Homes Ltd in Delta
Date/Time6/29/2016 at 10:25:44 AM

Are you referring to OSB? OSB is used allot as it's half the price of plywood. IF your talking MDF, no not to be used outside.

Building codes consider OSB (Oriented Strand Board) and plywood interchangeable and refer to both as 'structural wood panels' as both OSB and plywood panels are created when wood is glued and compressed to form a rigid panel. Despite the obvious similarities, there are some essential differences. From a structural standpoint Plywood and OSB panels are considered equitable although their different manufacturing techniques give each board its advantages and disadvantages.


When OSB panels are created, thin wood strands are combined with adhesive and then hot-pressed into sheets. OSB's strength comes from the fact that strands of wood are aligned in each layer and that each layer is perpendicular to the one below (they mimic plywood in this perpendicular layering). There are approximately 50 layers of wood strands in every OSB panel. While the two kinds of panels carry the same span rating (because they are based on strength and not thickness), nail pull and screw hold, OSB panels have several structural advantages over plywood panels:

OSB can be manufactured into larger panels than plywood and offer more cost saving options for today's builders

OSB panels do not have core voides like plywood panels do

OSB panels are considered greener by some as they are manufactured from smaller, sustainably-grown trees rather than old-growth forests

OSB has a greater shear strength than plywood panels

OSB is less expensive than plywood and, when its utilized for sub-flooring, wall and roof sheathing, the savings to builders are significant


Plywood panels are created when sheets of veneer are peeled from a log and cross-laminated together with a hot press. Plywood has a few advantages over OSB panels:

When plywood panels are exposed to moisture, they expand but they do dry faster than OSB. Moisture issues for both plywood and OSB can be mitigated with correct storage of panels during construction

Since plywood panels are manufactured from continuous pieces of veneer, they have a smoother appearance which is better for painting or laminating

While both panels are equitable in strength, weight, span and ability to hold fasteners, OSB's consistent quality from panel to panel and lower cost has made it a popular choice on North American projects with over 80% of residential construction using OSB over plywood.

Proper storage and handling through the distribution channels and construction stages, meeting ventilation and vapor barrier code requirements and the proper spacing of panel edges can virtually eliminate issues caused by moisture. OSB manufacturers have also addressed this issue by coating panel edges. OSB offers more consistent quality than plywood because there are no core voids and OSB will not delaminate. Plywood is also more likely to delaminate when exposed to moisture than OSB.

No matter your inclination, OSB has become the building material of choice for North American professionals. As manufacturing techniques improve, OSB's lower cost and improved performance ensure it will remain the building material of the future.

User Icon
Date/Time6/29/2016 at 10:49:47 AM

I have used it a few times with great success. But !!! make sure you purchase the waterproof MDF. It costs more and is usually special order at most lumber yards.

User Icon
Date/Time6/29/2016 at 10:56:29 AM

Absolutely no!

User Icon
Date/Time6/29/2016 at 11:39:07 AM

You can only use OSB on the outside.

User Icon
Bill from Bills Carpentry in Moncton
Date/Time6/29/2016 at 6:09:18 PM

I would not use outside.

User Icon
Date/Time6/29/2016 at 9:16:15 PM

I would never use MDF on an exterior project. It absorbs moisture when in contact with water.


James Fram

User Icon
Date/Time6/29/2016 at 9:57:26 PM

Fellow contractors, do your research, exterior MDF is now available.

User Icon
Date/Time7/1/2016 at 12:53:39 AM

Not at all. It's a wood fiber adhesive mix and even when fully finished it absorbs moisture and expands. Screws and fasteners let go and it is only intended for interior surfaces.

User Icon
Urmila in Mississauga
Date/Time7/1/2016 at 10:31:01 AM

Thank you all for your comments. I have a lot to think about.


Search the TrustedPros directory and discover the best contractors in your area.

Find your home service pro
Great renovations start with a great contractor.

Since 2004, TrustedPros has been helping homeowners find the right contractor for their home improvements and repairs.

Post Your Project

Within hours you'll be comparing offers from top-rated professionals. It's free to post and you're under no obligation to hire.

Trustedpros Inc. does not warrant the accuracy, completeness, safety, legality or usefulness of any Content, or Whether Content is Current and up-to-date, and TrustedPros Inc. Shall have no liability whatsoever with respect to your use or reliance upon any content or for content being removed or otherwise ceasing to be available. Please refer to the terms and conditions of use of this websites for more details.

Get Free Estimates

Post your project and compare offers from top-rated pros.