Should your bathroom vanity be made of wood or veneered MDF?
When shopping for a bathroom vanity, you will quickly understand that you are buying a solid wood vanity, a solid wood veneer vanity, or an MDF veneer vanity. You must first decide what type of construction is right for you. Either type may be acceptable.
A solid wood dresser is what it sounds like. It’s wood, will last a long time, and will withstand harsher bathroom conditions. Be aware that because it is wood, it can also expand and contract in extreme humidity. Wood is also unique. It comes with all the natural blemishes like knots, streaks, and even discolorations. This is neither positive nor negative. It is a personal preference. Wood will cost more too, so keep your budget in mind.
A solid wood veneer dresser has a wooden construction base, but is then covered by veneer which is a thin decorative covering of thin wood applied over the wood (or MDF). It is used to improve the aesthetics of the wood but making it more consistent. Veneers also allow for more wood grain and color variations.
A veneered MDF vanity is a medium density fibreboard. MDF is made up of very fine wood particles that are refined and mixed with waxes and resins that bond the particles together and then pressed to form veneer laminated boards. MDF works great with dowels, but not with screws. Some argue that the formaldehyde used in the gluing process seeps into the room unless the part is well sealed. However, there is really no way to tell if the MDF is sealed. These vanities mainly came from China or other overseas countries. MDF is also more susceptible to water damage. Steam showers next to an MDF vanity are probably not a good idea.
In my personal experience, I ordered 2 dressers when the manufacturer was switching from veneered wood to veneered MDF due to cost savings. Although they said the veneer held up better on the MDF. Anyway, I have one of each type. They look the same on the outside and no one would have noticed the difference if it weren’t for the fact that I have 4 small dogs that don’t stop marking territories. All I do is wipe the pee off, but I love them so much and my husband doesn’t want to cut off their ‘you know what’. Anyway, due to my personal situation, MDF is a poor choice. The corners of the dressers have been constantly peed and the MDF dresser is now bloated with rolled veneers. The wooden dresser shows no urine damage. Note that the MDF vanity looks great where it was not peed.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to budget, style, and lifestyle. MDF dressers are clearly less expensive. There is more variety to choose from. They must last a long time. There may be a problem with formaldehyde, but sometimes plywood is also treated with formaldehyde. Do your own research on this topic. For me, simply because of my dogs, I cannot have anything with MDF in my house. Good luck with your shopping.