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All our panel doors, framing kits and interior components are constructed from melamine-faced chipboard or ‘MFC', as it is commonly referred to – but what exactly is this material and why do we use it? This article provides the answers.
MFC is a commercially manufactured sheet material and is used widely for all types of interior construction, fit-out work and built-in furniture. Its versatility and durability makes it an ideal construction choice for self-assembly kitchen and bedroom furniture including cabinets and carcases, drawers, shelves, headboards, partitions and of course, sliding wardrobe doors.
At the core of MFC is chipboard, a substrate made from waste wood chips that could be leftovers from the milling process, sawdust, or from cutting or thinning forest branches. These materials are graded by size and mixed into a slurry with different adhesive additives and synthetic resins, depending on the intended end use of the chipboard, and then, under great pressure and heat, compressed together to form smooth-sided sheets in differing thicknesses and overall size. Chipboard, in this basic form, is a commonly-used material in the construction industry and is also a popular choice in the DIY market where its main uses are for flooring, partitioning and interior roofing.
As it is largely manufactured from waste wood that would otherwise have been disposed of, chipboard is a product that is relatively environmentally sound as it contributes to saving deforestation.
In the case of MFC, sheets of this ‘raw’ chipboard have ‘skins’ of a melamine resin-impregnated material bonded or laminated to either face in a process that combines heat, high compression and rolling. This ‘curing' process results in each face of the chipboard now having a finish that is very smooth, highly durable and perhaps most importantly, water-resistant. To enable a wide range of coloured finishes to be offered a layer of melamine resin-impregnated coloured paper is added so that the resulting laminated faces are available in a wide range of solid/plain colours. Alternatively, as a part of the manufacturing/curing process, an additional layer of melamine resin-impregnated paper, preprinted with a design (eg. realistic woodgrain effect), can be applied to the resin material on one or both faces. The resultant laminated chipboard will then carry this visual woodgrain effect on one or both faces of the sheet. Additionally, the melamine resin surfaces can be finished to include a subtle texture or even woodgrain embossing so it is possible to accurately simulate not only the look but also the tactility of the real woodgrain.
Finally, depending upon the intended end-use the outside edges of the MFC sheets are usually finished with ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) edging strips or edging tape in the same colour or design to that of the two faces.
The are number of different brand names of MFC on the market, perhaps the most familiar one being Contiboard due to its wide availability in most UK DIY superstores. This ubiquity is also possibly the reason why many people have a negative view of MFC, seeing it as a DIY grade product and therefore only suitable for basic furniture or low-cost DIY projects. However, products catering to a domestic DIY consumer market, such as Contiboard, are very different in their quality to commercial grade MFC as used by major kitchen cabinet / furniture manufacturers. For example, the finish of Contiboard is designed to enable easy cutting with limited chipping or ‘break-out’ of the laminate surface; in order to achieve this, less resin is used in the manufacturing process and the effect of this is to render the laminated finish less hardwearing and make it more susceptible to marking, staining, scratching and water ingress.
In contrast, Wardrobe Doors Direct uses high quality MFC manufactured by Egger for all its doors, framing components and wardrobe interior storage units. Egger is one of the world’s leading producers of MFC and supplies many large companies that are household names in the kitchen and bedroom manufacturing sectors. All the MFC used for our interiors and framing kits is 18mm thick with a 1mm ABS edging strip along both long sides, and the panels used for our wardrobe doors are of an 8mm thickness.
All the MFC components in our interiors and framing kits are finished on the long lengths with 1mm thick ABS edging strip. As they are also supplied oversized, most installations will require some of the panels to be cut to the required size. To achieve the best finished results when cutting MFC panels to size please refer to our installation guide or see our article How to cut MFC.
For environmental and sustainability information regarding the manufacture of Egger’s MFC products please refer to the company’s own website: www.egger.com/shop/en_GB/about-us/environment
You can request free samples of any of the MFC plain colour or woodgrain effect panels in our range using our Sample request page.
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