Asked on Aug 13, 2018

Floating Shelves MDF or Plywood?

by Marcos

I’m building two 16 foot floating shelves that will be painted glossy white I feel that the MDF will give me a very smooth finished look versus all the work to make plywood smooth. I’m installing round puck lights recessed into the shelves and the shelves will not be bearing much weight. Should I use MDF or plywood?

  7 answers
  • William William on Aug 13, 2018

    Go with MDF. For the length it would be more stable and less chance of sagging over time like plywood may do.

  • Oliva Oliva on Aug 13, 2018

    There are varying weights of MDF, and some can be quite heavy. MDF, unless sealed on all sides, will always emit some degree of formaldehyde into your home. It does look nice, when finished.

    If you purchase it, see if it "chalks", by wiping it with a cloth, prior to painting it. If you recess the lights into MDF, be careful you don't fracture it when cutting the holes.

    • Marcos Marcos on Aug 13, 2018

      Thanks. I will make a hole on a scrap piece I have and see if it cracks.

  • Dee Dee on Aug 13, 2018

    A good grade plywood would make the shelves stronger and you would not have to worry about weight. Bud MDF can be easier to work with and like you said would be smoothe.

    • Marcos Marcos on Aug 13, 2018

      Thanks. The MDF I have is about 3/4 inch thick. I’m thinking that Brad nails would be sufficient for the top board but I plan to screw the underside piece on to the 2x4 supports because of the weight. Any other suggestions?

  • I agree that MDF has a smoother finish

  • Joanne lueke Joanne lueke on Aug 13, 2018

    Although I am not a fan of mdf, I am leaning towards agreeing with you as long as the shelves won't hold much weight. Please make a post when you have completed your project so we can see how it turned out. Best wishes!

  • Another vote for MDF!

  • Marcos Marcos on Sep 11, 2018

    Thanks to all for your input! The 12 inch deep floating shelves and wall floating desk are completed. I used 1/2 inch MDF for the top of the shelves. 1/4 inch plywood on the bottom where the IKEA puck lights are recessed. Faced the shelves with MDF trim. Built the desk 24 inches deep with 3/4 maple plywood and MDF trim for the face.