MFC Vs. MDF Updated 2020


Back in 2015, we explored whether MDF or MFC is better for educational environments. This blog is one of our most popular features because both these materials are commonly used in a variety of furniture. However, we wanted to give this blog a refresh and identify some new benefits of MFC and why it is used in nearly all our manufactured furniture.

What is MFC? 

MFC (Melamine Faced Chipboard) is melamine resin impregnated paper bonded both sides on to a chipboard core. The chipboard core is made from smaller particles and is denser at the top and bottom to provide impact resistance while the larger particles are in the centre of the board to provide a coarse grain for fixing. It also has a grain-like orientation which gives the product lateral strength.

Our standard MFC carcass panels are thicker than most MDF carcasses which means they use larger, stronger fixings and this gives a lot more stability to the product. This is a major benefit for educational furniture because it makes it a lot harder for students to loosen and remove fixings, thereby causing damage to the furniture or themselves. Nearly all our furniture is constructed using MFC including carcasses, doors, décor panels and most worktops and tabletops, it is easily machined, flexible and very durable.

MFC cross section showing the dense outer core and coarse inner core

Why was MDF used before?

MDF was often preferred by installers because it is typically easier to cut and shape than MFC and therefore easier to work with. It is also strong, durable and if water ingression occurs it performs well, although it may blow due to the water affecting the efficiency of the glue that hold together the fibres.

Environmental Benefits of MFC

MFC is 100% recyclable and FSC certified meaning that it is made from wood that is from a well-managed sustainable forest and protects Indigenous People’s rights through to the methods of felling trees.

MFC is typically more environmentally friendly than MDF because it has a significantly lower carbon count, meaning it is not processed as much so has a lower energy consumption.

Health Concerns of MDF

MDF has many health concerns because of the high amount of formaldehyde it contains. The oil-based glue used in MDF can be dangerous in long-term exposure. The organic compound can cause various respiratory problems and even cancer. Precautions should be taken when MDF is being cut because it gives off a wood dust which can be harmful if inhaled. Furniture now is usually sealed to prevent the formaldehyde escaping into the air but if it gets damaged, as often happens in schools, there is still the potential for it to be released into the air.

Technical Standards of MFC

MFC is tested to the following standards:

– EN14323 for resistance to Scratching, Staining, Cracking

– EN311 for Surface Soundness and EN323 for Density (impact resistance)

These standards clarify that MFC is a durable product to use for high-traffic areas which makes them suitable to use in products that are designed for classrooms, offices, and social space use. All MFC products can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth and a mild soap or detergent if necessary and buffed dry with a clean cloth.

Our MFC Products

Pinnacle use MFC in most manufactured educational furniture, our most popular MFC products are our TeacherWalls/StorageWalls, Capacity Storage Range and IT benching. These products need to be robust and strong to cater for busy educational environments so MFC is the obvious choice to accommodate these requirements.

Our TeacherWalls/StorageWalls can provide a complete storage, IT and teaching solution for the classroom. TeacherWalls are not only used in classrooms, but also in IT suites, food technology rooms and science laboratories.

The Capacity Storage Range by Pinnacle has several unique features to increase durability and enhance speed, ease of installation and access to services. The products have been tested by FIRA to meet the most demanding standards. The collection provides a wide range of colours and finishes including numerous worktops that are tested for chemical and impact resistance.

For more advice on materials, design, and space planning, please contact our friendly team today.