Rigorous stress testing completed at the EWPAA laboratories in Brisbane have confirmed the high structural strength of medium-density fibreboard.
“The tests on the characteristic structural properties of a variety of MDF grades shows, in fact, that MDF is twice as strong as machine-graded pine (MGP 10),” the general manager of the Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia Simon Dorries said.
The results of the tests on the modulus of elasticity (MOE) and modulus of rupture, and shear strength bending and stiffness of MDF, will form part of a new EWPAA technical note and possibly find their way into a national building standard.
MDF is an engineered wood product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibers. It is generally denser than plywood and is stronger and much denser than particleboard.
Simon Dorries said the tests flew in the face of claims circulating in some industry sectors that MDF possessed few design properties.
“These claims have suggested, quite wrongly, that Australian manufactured MDF products are unsuitable for use as components for staircase construction,” Mr Dorries said.
“MDF boards have been used in staircases for at least 30 years without any instance of structural failure.”
Mr Dorries said it was more than likely that claims against MDF were simply a misinterpretation of Australian standards and information provided on the use of MDF in staircases.
He said some manufacturers in the solid wood sector had been using the report to suggest EWPAA did not support the use of MDF boards in staircases.
“This is certainly bending the truth,” Mr Dorries said.
He said the manufacturing standard for MDF boards (AS/NZS 1859.2) specified values for basic structural and material properties of MDF. This allowed many grades of MDF to be designed and be ‘fit for use’ in dry protected applications such as stair components, as had been the case for more than 30 years.
Producers of compliant MDF in Australia include Laminex, Borg Manufacturing and Alpine MDF Industries.
Photo: Simon Dorries, EWPAA general manager, and Andrew McLaughlin special projects engineer, rigorously test MDF samples for structural strength at the Brisbane laboratories.