3 Types of Wood I Use For DIY Projects

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3 Types of Wood I Use For DIY Projects

Whenever I start a new project I always get asked what type of wood I’m using and how I chose it. It took me a long time to understand how to pick out the best wood and all of the different types. So I get it! Today I’ve put together everything I know about wood and I’m going to break down the 3 types of wood I use for DIY projects. Although it does depend on the project, I usually stick to using one of these: MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard), plywood, or solid wood. Let’s get into it!

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Wood Type For DIY Projects #1 – Solid Wood

Solid wood refers to wood made from actual lumber that doesn’t go through a manufacturing process. For example, cedar, pine, and oak are all types of solid wood. Solid wood is a strong, sturdy, and beautiful material. Solid wood is great for furniture, cabinetry, and in pieces that you need to last. I recently used pine boards on my son’s bedroom wall and loved the way it turned out! Other projects I’ve used solid wood on are my kids’ pine trundle bed and our family’s maple kitchen table.

Pros of Solid Wood

  • Natural-looking. Shows knots, grain, and imperfections
  • Solid and sturdy
  • Easiest to stain
  • Durable and long-lasting

Cons of Solid Wood

  • Prone to warping and water damage if it doesn’t have a waterproof finish
  • Can crack over time in extreme temperatures
  • Most expensive of the three
  • More vulnerable to pest infestation

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Wood Type For DIY Projects #2 – Plywood

Plywood is made up of sheets of wood veneer glued together into one solid piece. It comes in different numbers of layers that determine its durability. 3-ply, 5-ply or multi-ply categorizes most plywood. This refers to how many layers thick it is. The more layers there are, the stronger the plywood and the higher the cost. If you want to learn more about how plywood is measured and labeled check out The Home Depots guide here. Plywood is easy to find and is great for projects like building bins, shelves, or other internal structures. I used it to build these floating shelves and our entryway bench

Pros of Plywood

  • Less expensive than solid wood
  • Strong, holds screws tightly
  • Stainable
  • Won’t soak up water or swell easily

Cons of Plywood

  • Edges are unfinished and can easily splinter
  • More expensive than MDF
  • Difficult to cut detailed designs into
  • Can contain formaldehyde

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Wood Type For DIY Projects #3 – MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)

MDF is made up of recycled wood. To make MDF, leftover scraps of wood are glued and pressed together with resin and heat. These scraps come from the production of wood boards and/or beams that would normally end up being burned or thrown in a landfill. This is awesome because the environment benefits from MDF! I have used MDF in so many spaces of our home, partially because it’s the cheapest of the 3 types of wood I use for DIY projects, and partially because it’s sold everywhere. You can find it in cabinets, furniture, molding/trim work, and door parts. I used MDF for the shiplap boarding on my son’s ceiling and around my fireplace, as well as my bathroom barn door.

Pros of MDF

  • The cheapest option of the three
  • Has a smooth finish making it easy to paint and seal
  • Won’t crack or warp
  • Resistant to pests and insects

Cons of MDF

  • Not as strong or durable as solid wood and plywood
  • Doesn’t hold screws as well
  • Is a heavy material
  • Can contain formaldehyde

*If you plan to use MDF in areas with moisture (like bathrooms or around sinks) you can source moisture-resistant MDF, but just make sure you prime and paint all edges so there is a barrier the water can’t get through.

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Different Types of Wood and When to Use Them

In conclusion, there is really no right or wrong type of wood to use. The type of wood you choose depends on your project and the characteristics that are most important to you. I hope this helped you better understand the 3  types of wood I use for DIY projects and when to use them. If you want to learn more about working with wood, check out my blog post here. Be sure to tag me in your projects on Instagram @angelarosehome and let me know which wood you use the most. Now let’s get back to building!

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