MDF Cots Vs Timber Cots

MDF Cots Vs Timber Cots

More and more, we are being asked “Are MDF Cots better than Timber Cots?” The answer is No. MDF cots have been recently shown to have mould issues in high humidity and other issues which we will discuss below.

What is MDF?

MDF is is short for Medium-density fibreboard. In Australia, some people refer to it as chipboard or particle board.

Why do Cot Brands use MDF instead of Timber?

The short answer is that it is way cheaper and easier to access. In addition, it has another benefit that it is usually laminated so there are less chances of scratches versus a painted or stained timber cot.

What are the downsides of MDF?

  1. MDF can not hold screws like solid wood.  As a result, MDF cot manufacturer’s will tell you that single hand drop sides are not safe etc. etc. The real reason they do not offer MDF made cots with single hand drop sides is that it simply will become a safety issue long term as screws loosen.
  2. Recently, one brand in particular in Australia who uses MDF is their cots and even their bases has come under great scrutiny both by the media, social media and the ACCC. The reason was mould. There were large numbers of MDF cots being recalled due to the common theme of mould in the bases which can and did spread to mattresses and bedding.  This is a serious health concern.
  3. MDF does not last as long as solid timber. You do not see houses and bridges made of MDF. Solid timber bridges and houses have been around for decades and still as structurally sound today.
  4. MDF cots are generally laminated. This means you miss out on the natural beauty of a stained timber cot. Even with laminate that mimics the look of timber, it still has that “fake” timber or “Plastic” look. Even if MDF is painted, it still has a “fake” look.
  5. If a laminated MDF cot is scratched or dented, then you can not repair it as with a timber Cot. In most cases with a stained cot, it’s as easy as using a furniture repair pen from your hardware store for a few dollars and a few minutes it’s fixed!
  6. MDF sags over time if subjected to weight. Solid timber does not. This is another reason, we wont sell cots with MDF cots bases.

Health Issues with MDF?

Health Concerns are being raised around the world recently with MDF board. The main reason is that it is made with an adhesive containing urea-formaldehyde (or urea-methanal formaldehyde). This then “off-gasses” into its surroundings.

There has been a study  from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overseas that found that high levels of this formaldehyde can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. Even scarier, it estimates that high exposure levels could increase your lifetime risk of getting cancer, with an anticipated 6 to 30 extra cases for every 100,000 people per year.

I don’t know about you, but this is not something I would want to expose my baby to.

Because of the health hazards MDF presents, the U.S. government passed the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act in 2010, which sets limits on how much formaldehyde home products can contain—in this case, a max of 0.11 ppm (parts per millions). Europe’s formaldehyde standard is higher, at 0.07 ppm, and the California Air Resources Board set its standard higher still, at 0.05 ppm.

I have not been able to find something similar in Australia yet.

MDF Cots Vs Timber Cots Summary:

Above are just 6 reasons and there are more, that we strongly recommend timber cots over MDF cots.

Here are a few bullet points as to why Timber Cots are superior.

  1. Although more expensive, they last much longer. Making them better value in the long run. This is important, especially if this is your first child. (Value)
  2. Ability to have superior designs with wooden cots such as single hand drop sides for ease of use.
  3. Less risk of mould. (Health and Safety issue)
  4. Stronger Mattress Base that wont sag like MDF. (Safety Issue)

I have heard that some stores have told parents that solid timber cots can get infestations of white ants. This is a silly thing to suggest. All cots coming in to Australia have to be treated beforehand to Australian Government Standards. In nearly 20 years in this game, I have never heard of such an issue.

If a timber cot can fit in your budget, our advice is to choose timber any day.

I can not stress the importance of getting the right advice from true independent baby stores with highly trained baby product experts. Not just a sales assistant working in a large multi-store who may not even be working there next month. Nor is asking a manufacturer of cots – they will just tell you what they want to sell.

The key is getting advice from a true independent baby store with experts that have all options and brands for you.

We have a full team of highly trained staff on helping you decide which cot to buy.  Do not hesitate to seek advice from us. We are here to help.

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About the Author

Frank is a founding owner of Bubs n Grubs. He is also the sole author of the Bubs n Grubs Baby Blog. He has been personally evaluating baby products & testing them before offering them to our customers since 2009. In addition, he is consistently giving manufacturer’s feedback & product development advice, reviewing & getting customer feedback. He has been doing this since the business started in 2009. He is proud to be one of the rare baby store owners who regularly engages with customers in store. Frank values the constant feedback and regularly seeks it out. He has been featured on the Morning Show & the Today Show on Channel 7 and Channel 9 and is a recognised expert in baby products as a result.


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