Whether you have picked up a cheap box table at a car boot sale or have turned your hand to woodwork, there is a good chance you will have some furniture in your home made our of MDF.
MDF, or medium-density fibreboard, is a great material that is easy to cut and cheap to buy, which explains why a lot of furniture is made from it.
But making a table or cabinet made from MDF look expensive and timeless can be a bit of a challenge. The cheap nature of the material can make certain pieces look tacky and inexpensive. Thankfully, there are some tricks you can do at home to make that old piece of furniture look luxurious.
War paint for a cheap face
If you have bought an item that uses MDF but is trying to mimic the effect that real wood has, then the results can look very budget and tacky.
One of the most cost effective solutions is to use simple house paint. If you have a dining table that lives in a room that is decorated mainly in white, then use a pale or even same-coloured paint on the whole dining piece.
The result will be a table that looks more retro and actually quite expensive and unique. Once the paint is applied and is still damp, you can achieve a more rustic feel by lightly brushing over the table again, ensuring you leave lots of streaks to imitate grains in the wood. Then brush over everything with steel wool to add more of a colour blend and reveal some of the material underneath.
This distressed look will really add a touch of class to what once was a cheap and nasty looking piece.
You can also use bold colours for more effect, such as a deep red, on cabinets and even chairs. The bolder and more distressed you can make it, the more your furniture will look unique, catalogue bought and expensive.
Dress it up
Another cheap solution is to dress up your cabinet or dresser, and tables too, and so subtract the eyes attention away from the cheaper material used to make the piece itself.
Quite often you can see a dressing table that has been painted white or chocolate brown, but another option is to paint just certain parts to create features. For a cabinet, paint or wallpaper in between the shelves, and for tables, why not paint or spray on a mosaic or pattern to create a more original piece.
Adding mouldings such as ornamental feet or archaic brass handles is another great way to dress up that dressing table, and is also very cost effective.
Use scented drawer liners to add another element of luxury to that chest of drawers too. And if you have a small MDF table, you either throw a floral or decorative sheet over it before adding flowers and pictures, or add a new top. Grab some faux leather and glue that to the top, and all of a sudden you have an interesting looking signature table, worthy of any house guests sitting their coffee and biscuits down on.
Disadvantages of MDF for furniture
Whilst MDF is good in the sense that the material has no organic knots and is cheap, there are some disadvantages.
This material is bad at holding screws, and is prone to splitting. One solution is to drill pilot holes first, but for use with an even thinner MDF board, using spax screws is the best solution.
Spax screws have a special point which negates the need to pre-drill a pilot hole before use, and the square end pushes aside the fibres of the wood. This effectively reduces splitting in the material and hence reduces the screwing-in torque required.
Buy some furniture to dress up yourself
If you don’t have any MDF-made pieces around the house but fancy a bit of a project, you can also go out and buy a cheap piece and dress it up yourself. Charity shops and warehouses often stock a wide range of furniture that has been donated. Pick up some drawers, a dresser, small table or even a full dining set for under £30 and get creative!
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Written by Arthur Wilson, a keen DIYer and blogger. If you like this article, make sure you share it on Twitter or Facebook!