How to Build MDF Walls
Medium density fiberboard (MDF) is a substance made by compressing wood particles with glue into sheet or block form. Using MDF for a wall sheathing is a cost-effective method for construction. MDF does not swell with humidity, is flat and dense, affordable and is also eco-friendly as it is made of waste wood material. The surfaces of MDF can later be painted or wall-papered just as tradition drywall can be. Building a wall from any sheet material is done in more or less the same way.
Construct the frame for your wall to be built. For purposes of explanation, this will be an 8-foot-tall dividing wall, rather than a load-bearing wall. Lay two 2-by-4s on the floor to become your top and bottom plates. It is advisable to build your walls flat then lift them upright into place.
Nail through the top and bottom plate 2-by-4s into the ends of other 2-by-4s (wall studs) placed perpendicular to your top and bottom plate 2-by-4s. Depending on the building code in your area, you will need to space these vertical walls studs every 18 or 24 inches on center. On center means you space the wall studs from the center of one wall stud to the center of the other, starting at one end of your top and bottom plates to the other.
Cut down a few 2-by-4s into small "nogging" or "fireblock" sections. These should be cut to fit perpendicularly in between the wall studs halfway between your top and bottom plates. Nail through the wall stud, into the end of your nogging sections from either side, then stagger the next one a few inches higher. These sections help to add rigidity to your wall assembly, but are not necessarily required.
Lift your wall assembly into place and nail through the bottom plate into the floor. Use a stud finder to locate the solid wood floor joists, which would be best to nail into. Nail through the top plate into the ceiling, using the stud finder as well to locate the joists or rafters if the ceiling is already covered.
Sheath the wall assembly with sheets of MDF mounted vertically, nailed into the wall studs. Mark the location of the wall studs onto your MDF sheet before nailing them, with lines spaced on center as you spaced the wall studs. Screws can be used in place of nails, but it will take a little more time.
Patch and cover any defects in the surface of the MDF, seams between the MDF sheets, as well as nail or screw heads with patching compound applied with a putty knife. Sand smooth with some sand paper wrapped around a block to the surface of the MDF once dry.
Paint or wallpaper as you like.
- Painting a primer coat before the finished coat may help on savings.
- Insulate the wall, depending on your needs, before attaching the MDF sheets.
Brandy Alexander began writing professionally in 1993. She has years of experience as a professional of the English language employed with the "Cape Times" and "The Mercury." Alexander holds a master's degree in English literature from Stellenbosch University in South Africa.
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