When you are shopping to purchase a bathroom vanity you will quickly understand that you will purchase either a solid wood vanity, a solid wood vanity with veneers or a MDF vanity with veneers. You should first decide which type of construction is right for you. It may be that any of the types are acceptable.
A solid wood vanity is just what it sounds like. It’s wood and it will last a long time and stand up to more harsher conditions in the bathroom. Please know that because it is wood, it may also expand and contract with extreme moisture. Wood is also one of kind. It comes with all the natural imperfections like knots, veining and even discolorations. This is neither a positive or a negative. It’s a personal preference. Wood will also cost more so keep your budget in mind.
A solid wood vanity with veneers has a wood construction base but then it is covered by a veneer which is a thin decorative covering of fine wood applied on top of the wood (or MDF). It is used to improve the aesthetic of the wood but making it more consistent. Veneers also allow more variations of wood grains and colors.
An MDF vanity with veneers is a Medium Density Fiberboard. MDF is made up of very fine particles of wood that are refined and mixed with waxes and resins that glue the particles together then it is pressed into a boards that are laminated with veneers. MDF works great with dowels but doesn’t work well with screws. Some argue that formaldehyde that is used in the gluing process leaks into the room unless the piece is sealed well. There is really no way of knowing if the MDF is sealed though. These vanities mostly came from China or other overseas countries. MDF is also more susceptible to water damage. Steam showers next to an MDF vanity probably isn’t a good idea.
In my personal experience, I ordered 2 vanities when the manufacturer was switching from wood with veneers to MDF with veneers because of the cost savings. Although they said the veneer held up better on the MDF. Anyway, I have one of each type. On the outside they look the same and nobody would ever have known the difference except for the fact that I have 4 small dogs who just won’t stop marking territories. All I do is clean up pee but I love them dearly and my husband doesn’t want to cut off their ‘you know whats’. Anyway, because of my personal sitution the MDF is a poor choice. The corners of the vanities have been constantly pee’d on and the MDF vanity is now swollen with curled up veneers. The wood vanity shows no damage from pee. Please note the MDF vanity looks great where it wasn’t pee’d on.
At the end of the day, it comes down to budget, style and lifestyle. The MDF vanities are clearly less expensive. There is more variety to choose from. They should last for a long time. There may be an issue with formaldehyde but sometimes plywood is treated with formaldehyde too. Please do your own research on this issue. For me, simply because of my dogs I cannot have anything with MDF in my home. Good luck with your shopping.