CLICK HEREto return to discussion topics
MrLandlord Q & A
MDF vanity ok? (by Laker Lori [CA]) Apr 13, 2024 8:59 AM
       (by zero [IN]) Apr 13, 2024 9:48 AM
       (by plenty [MO]) Apr 13, 2024 9:50 AM
       (by GKARL [PA]) Apr 13, 2024 10:36 AM
       (by MikeA [TX]) Apr 13, 2024 10:38 AM
       (by Tim [CA]) Apr 13, 2024 11:06 AM
       (by RR78 [VA]) Apr 13, 2024 12:31 PM
       (by Robin [WI]) Apr 13, 2024 3:32 PM
       (by LisaFL [FL]) Apr 13, 2024 5:46 PM
       (by OREO [WI]) Apr 13, 2024 6:41 PM
       (by Robert,OntarioCanada [ON]) Apr 14, 2024 2:59 AM

Click here to reply to this discussion.
Click Here to send this discussion to a friend

MDF vanity ok? (by Laker Lori [CA]) Apr 13, 2024 8:59 AM

I am remodeling 1 of my bathrooms in my personal residence. The 30" vanities I am looking at are $600-1,000 & MDF. These ones don't deteriorate as fast w/ water damage, right? The cheaper tier is "manufactured wood," which I am assuming isn't as quality? I figured out a long time ago not to put the cheapest (cardboard like but can't recall what they are called) vanities in bathrooms & have mostly used pedestals for a while w/ lots of wall storage in the units. Thought?

MDF vanity ok? (by zero [IN]) Apr 13, 2024 9:48 AM

Medium density fiber (MDF) will most assuredly swell when it gets too wet.

I think that it swells easier than the pressed wood (OSB type) units. The big kicker is what the coating on the unit is.

A lot are using a thin plastic that is thermally fused to the walls. Some use a sticker.

It seems that most of the mid range and below units are so cheaply constructed that you are asking for problems.

We got a little higher quality for our house. Rentals are still whatever I can find that isn't ridiculous and still looks decent.

I started putting plastic buttons on the bottoms to keep the vanity from sitting in water from the shower or a leak. That seems to help a little. Many will paint or poly the bottom edges, but if the water gets on the wall of the unit it is usually doomed as well.


MDF vanity ok? (by plenty [MO]) Apr 13, 2024 9:50 AM

Get the look for your space. Especially for your own home as it won't be abused as in a rental. We also have started putting any such vanity up on little plastic feet. The screen in the bottom and can be helpful in leveling. But just enough off the floor to prevent water from contract with vanity. Helps with regular cleaning also. You buy these separately and attach.

MDF vanity ok? (by GKARL [PA]) Apr 13, 2024 10:36 AM

I only buy plywood vanities at this point

MDF vanity ok? (by MikeA [TX]) Apr 13, 2024 10:38 AM

I could argue it either way.

On one hand, you likely won't abuse it like a tenant so it should last longer than in a rental. It's the cheaper option.

On the other hand, it's still particle board. If it gets wet it will swell and fall apart. Go to a cabinet shop and have them build you one out of plywood. The extra dollars spent will give you decades of service.

So it really boils down to what you want, cheap that you have to replace in the event you have a flood, or a little more expensive that will last forever.

In rentals, instead of the feet, I have a can of roof seal that I use. You can also use Flex Seal which is basically the same thing but more expensive. I paint the bottom side of the exposed particle board (what sits on the floor). Make sure you overlap the melamine sheet on the side so you get a good tight water seal. It's not perfect but it significantly improves the ability of cheap cabinets to withstand some water. They don't put melamine on the bottom so the raw particle board just sits there and absorbs water otherwise.

MDF vanity ok? (by Tim [CA]) Apr 13, 2024 11:06 AM

Google RTA cabinets. They're made of better quality materials, and reasonable priced because you assemble the cabinet. There are also stores that sell these assembled....usually they're found at stores that sell granite countertops. --73.2.xx.xx

MDF vanity ok? (by RR78 [VA]) Apr 13, 2024 12:31 PM

manufactured wood is often just another name for MDF. Neither are considered good.

It is either that or plywood which is better. And often found on most RTA cabinets that Tim mentioned. A lot of RTA places online will sell them assembled for a higher price.

That said, we most often get plywood. But still have MDF last a long time. Even plywood can soak up water from the bottom where it touches the floor.

The only think you need to do is buy some 1/2"PVC. Cut strips then glue and nail on the bottom. And quarter round molding will hide this.

We use any PVC scrapes we have on hand. Or even cut strips from composite decking boards.

Then the extra step is to add anytype of vinyl flooring to the shelf in the cabinet. And caulk around this. Since can have a slow water leak that could get to the wood.

Scrap LVP or sheet flooring works well.

Also at times we will buy a RTA kitchen sink base cabinet. And very easy to cut to the proper depth. This is to give us a higher vanity height of about 34".

Whis I myself like much better. --73.251.xx.xx

MDF vanity ok? (by Robin [WI]) Apr 13, 2024 3:32 PM

No, no, no! They soak up water like a sponge. Even if they're nowhere near water, the hinge screws will pull right out of the particleboard over time.

I tend to look for people selling used vanities built the old way, with plywood sides and oak face frames. A coat of white paint (or navy, if you want to be trendy) and they're ready for another 20 years! That's for my rentals. If it's for your own house and you care more about how they look, find a local cabinetmaker. For those prices, you can get something just as good or better.

MDF vanity ok? (by LisaFL [FL]) Apr 13, 2024 5:46 PM

I started doing as Mike TX suggested. Have a cabinet maker make you one. It won’t cost a whole lot more than buying the premade MdF/particle board junk ones and last a whole lot longer. Plus they can be made with feet to keep them off the wet ground and made the exact size you need. Wish I could post a picture of the last two I had made. They are gorgeous and so much better quality for like $100 more. If we are in a hurry we buy plywood cabinets and cut the down to vanity depth or in some cases can purchase them already cut from our supplier. I won’t use MDF ever again. --24.236.xx.xx

MDF vanity ok? (by OREO [WI]) Apr 13, 2024 6:41 PM

Robin, you took the words right out of my mouth! We've found those on the side of the road here. For our small bath we sanded the stain finish off our old solid cabinet, in place, nice and smooth. Then painted it with several coats of outdoor white paint, sanding in between coats. Brought a whole new look to the bathroom. New faucet and towel racks, cost nearly anything. That was 30 years ago, no wear whatsoever.

Downstairs, tenant's unit, did similar, but only painted the door to the cabinet. We bought a completely waterproof thin plastic sheet (don't know what it's called) and covered each side with it. So easily wiped and if dirty or makeup spills down the sides, doesn't need painting. In perfect shape 20 years later. I wouldn't do MDF anything anymore.


MDF vanity ok? (by Robert,OntarioCanada [ON]) Apr 14, 2024 2:59 AM

Most vanities rot near floor. Ikea sells wall mounted vanities where the vanity will not touch floor so the rot problem is cleared. Other companies also sell wall mounted vanities. Basically will install 1/2” plywood on wall then install more supports so if stands or sits on vanity then the vanity will not separate from wall. Nice feature with Ikea vanities is the vanity sink has low water volume. I prefer a porcelain sink as not effected by cigarettes.

Click Here to send this discussion to a friend
Report discussion to Webmaster

Subject: RE: MDF vanity ok?
Your Name:
Your State:


Would you like to be notified via email when somebody replies to this thread?
If so, you must include your valid email address here. By entering your email address here, you agree to receive notification from every time anyone replies to "this" thread. You will receive response notifications for up to one week following the original post. Your email address will not be visible.
Email Address: