Manufactured Hardwood Shutters vs. Hardwood Shutters

Many window-covering companies push a material called “MDF”, as opposed to its hardwood counterpart. MDF is an acronym for Medium Density Fiberboard. It contains a mixture of wood solids (wood broken down into wood fiber), wax and resin that are bonded together by extreme heat. It creates a wood-like product that is much cheaper than hardwood.

Many  companies try to claim that MDF is just as durable as solid wood, and since it is much cheaper it makes them a very attractive option to consumers and businesses alike. While MDF does decrease the cost of shutters, the price that you pay in quality is too high.

MDF is exponentially heavier than solid woods, which can eventually lead to the shutter panel sagging. Because MDF is virtually particleboard compressed together hairline fractures regularly appear in the shutter where the staples connect the tilt rod, or the hinges are connected. Over time these hairline fractures increase in size until it affects the usability of the shutter. MDF will also absorb moisture like a sponge, making the louvers swell and the paint bubble.

Following is a comprehensive list of the pros and cons of MDF shutters vs hardwood shutters.

MDF Pros:

  • Cheaper
  • Smooth and consistent throughout – No knots

MDF Cons:

  • Unless it’s very well sealed all around, MDF will soak up liquids like a sponge and swell.
  • Because of the way it is constructed, MDF does not hold screws very well and is easy to strip the screw holes.
    (Like screwing a hole from the front pages of a book vs into the sides of the pages.)
  • MDF is very dense which makes the material extremely heavy.
    • Shutter louvers will sag easier, as will whole panels. 
  • MDF can only come in various shades of paint, limiting the colors that you can get your shutters in. MDF cannot be stained. The material will soak it up and it will not hold.
  • Formaldehyde is used to construct MDF which can lead to health risks
  • If you chip or crack a MDF piece of furniture, you cannot repair or cover the damage easily as you typically can with solid wood.
  • It does not react well to heat. When exposed to heat, the core materials become damaged.
  • MDF is easily scratched
  • Heavier than wood – Heavier shutters are harder to install and could pose a threat to the functionality of the shutter.
  • MDF shutters cannot be made into specialty shape shutters. The material is not as flexible as a premium wood, making ovals, arches, and octagons difficult.

Wood Shutters Pros:

  • It will stand the test of time
    • Natural lumber is resilient. It has been used in the the making of furniture, and also in the construction of bridges and dwellings as well. 
  • It is aesthetically pleasing
    • Natural and organic – different grains and finishes can add dimension to your stained shutters.
  • It is highly customizable
  • Solid wood can be stained in different colors and can be painted as well.
  • Hardwood is much lighter than a manufactured hardwood. This is a huge benefit due to it extending the longevity of your shutter. Because it is lighter there is much less wear and tear on the hinges that hold your shutter in place or on the louvers.
  • Stronger than MDF – better for windows with a larger opening.

Wood Shutters  Cons:

  • Pricier than MDF – due to the high quality of the material they fall under a higher price range.
  • Susceptible to humidity – not sustainable for rooms that are more humid. 

For all of these reasons The Blindman has decided to not carry a MDF shutter in our product line. Through our decades of knowledge that we have gained through manufacturing and selling window coverings The Blindman strives to only produce the best possible products available.

We would love to answer any questions you have about shutters! Click here to contact us! You can also give us a call at 801-692-2490.