Reply by drewnahant

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Posted on MDF or Plywood for fireplace mantel and surround

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222 posts in 3082 days

#1 posted 03-19-2011 12:37 AM

if it is going to be painted, I’d go with MDF. as much as I dislike the stuff, if yuou want to go with a sheet product, mdf will allow you to construct without hiding endgrain on the corners, it mills up beautifully with saws and router bits, and it paints evenly. It does not do well with moisture, but stands up to heat very well. one caution, make clean cuts and router well, because it does not sand nearly as well as it mills, you end up with a fuzzy surface, the only solution I have found for this which works really well is to coat with thinned epoxy or shellac, depending on the finish applied over it, let that harden the surface, then sand it again.

plywood is stronger, more moisture resistant, and gives you a grain texture on the surface, but it is more expensive, has nasty edges, even if you get good stuff without any voids, and if you plan on doing any shaping, you will have to paint it many times to cover the alternating grain in those edges. that being said, you could always attatch solid edging to any areas you plan to shape or router, but that’s just more work

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