Mdf vs. plywood Backing Rods

MDF Backing Rod

We have previously discussed why we use backing rods on vinyl nosing but not our laminate or hardwood nosing. Another common question is why does ShapeMeasure use MDF backing rods and we are more than happy to answer that question The purpose of this article is to discuss not only why we use MDF, but also why MDF rods are completely safe and should be used more often as a wood alternative.

Firstly, lets discuss what exactly MDF and Plywood are. MDF stands for Medium Density Fiberboard and is type of engineered wood made with wood fibres, resin and high pressure. MDF is typically very dense and doesnt experiences a lot of expanding and contracting. Plywood is layered wood glued together. It is known to be very durable and works consistently with water exposure.

MDF boards stacked on top of each other
MDF boards

Plywood boards stacked on top of each other
Plywood boards

There is a pretty common misconception that plywood is stronger than MDF, but we disagree. We have put both plywood and MDF through rigorous testing and found that for the purpose of stair nosing, both materials are equally effective. Both MDF and plywood in combination with our strong bond glue create perfectly stable and durable backing rods in our vinyl nosing.

Another concern is the structural stability of MDF backing when it gets wet. MDF is known to swell in the water and often may crumble if submerged for an extended period of time. To put this concern to the test, we submerged 4 stair nosings with MDF backing rods in water for 2 weeks. We wanted to test the durability of our nosings in water for extended periods although conditions like this are unlikely to happen in real life. At the end of the two weeks, we found that although the MDF had a slight amount of swelling, there was very no change in the shape of the nosing. Additionally, the MDF backing maintained the same strength and durability it had when it was dry. Our experiment with MDF allows us to confidently produce vinyl nosings with MDF backing rods as we know that water damage to the MDF that could affect the structural durability of stair nosings is nearly impossible.

We hope that the results of our experiments provide clarity about the use of MDF in our vinyl nosings and that you are now ready to order your custom nosings.