View Full Version : Stanley Furniture - quality of MDF versus solid wood?

07-24-2003, 01:56 PM
Does anyone know how the quality of Stanley Furniture is? I found a collection by Stanley that I really like (Summerhaven). It specified on the tag that it was constructed of hard wood (poplar, I think), but quite a few of the components (drawer fronts, tops, etc.) were made of medium density fiberboard, or MDF. The salesperson said this is common in the furniture industry and it is very strong and durable. I am not sure whether solid poplar is used at all in these pieces, or if the MDF is simply made from poplar wood. She said it's unimportant since it's painted white and you do not see the wood grain. I guess that is a good point, but I am still wondering about the quality of MDF versus solid wood. I was considering Vermont Tubbs and have always heard the quality is phenomenal, but I really like the style and design of this Stanley collection for my little girl. Thanks so much!!!

07-25-2003, 02:34 PM
We have a Stanley bedroom suite and the quality is so-so. Our bed frame has broken three times and the furniture has yellowed some. The finish is a whitewash. I would not buy Stanley again. We have a Thomasville bedroom set that is 3 times as old. 20 years old as compared to 7 and it looks better and is holding up well. However, we also have some Pottery Barn pieces that are part MDF and it is holding up fine. We have a changing table and a bookcase. I guess it would depend on how long you plan to use it and in what room. My advice? Buy the more expensive brand name for quality if you want to keep it forever.

08-10-2003, 07:29 PM
We have two Stanley pieces in our toddler's bedroom and really like them. We haven't bought a big-boy bed for him yet so I can't vouch for those but the bureau and bachelor's chest are wonderful. I like that my son can't pull the drawers all the way out and have them crash down on his feet. The quality seems good to me. There's always going to be wear and tear with toddlers. My husband and I have a Pennsylvania House suite in our room and ds has managed to break the runner on one of the bureau drawers. I don't think that says anything about the quality of PH (which in wonderful), just the ability of toddlers to wreak havoc on anything they come in contact with!

Good luck!

08-27-2003, 11:43 PM
MDF as a product is actually stronger than most woods, especially soft woods such as poplar and pine. What you need to look for are the connections between the pieces. Are they butt jointed (that is one is touching the other with some kind of mechanical joint like glue or staples), are they lap jointed (that is where the one or both pieces have been cut so that there is more surface area that they share), etc. You want to look for tight joints at all the places where two pieces come together. Check the paint at those joints, if the paint is cracking the joint is probably loose. Also check the hardware (knobs, pulls, drawer glides) if anything is loose, or seems like it could come loose easily then the overall quality is poor.

What it boils down to, as a previous poster pointed out, is how long you want to keep the set. My husband and I are in the military and move every 2-3 years. Now, even the best quality furniture in the world doesn't like to be moved that much, and when you have the lowest bidder doing the moving and packing then you are bound to get scratches, scrapes, dings, or just missing pieces. We also have weight limits on our moves (especially the overseas ones) so the good quality heavy furniture ends up being stored for three years in some Kansas warehouse. We try to keep to the middle road - furniture that seems sturdy enough for the short haul, but if the mover drops it down a flight of stairs (which has happened) or runs it into a doorframe (ditto) or merely looses it (ditto again) we won't cry about it.

Jen in Okinawa
Mom to Noelle (10/25/01)

01-07-2005, 01:15 PM
The most important thing to keep in mind is that MDF is medium density fiberboard, which is just compressed sawdust. They make it using formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a highly potent toxin and carcinogen. That means it causes headaches, allergenic responses, cancer, etc. Just do a search on MDF and formaldehyde on the Internet and you'll read all about it! We purchased furniture that contained MDF and nearly passed out from the offgassing of formaldehyde. We moved it to the garage, where it remains. We can't return it because we destroyed the box and packing materials and the company won't take it back (Target, by the way.). It's the Thomasville Country Life dresser.

01-10-2005, 07:31 PM
The formaldehyde is only released if the wood is cut/sanded. It does not 'outgas' like a foam mattress. What you probably got the effects of was either the foam or plastic that the piece was packaged in. I think that you will find that your furniture is fine now that it has aired in your garage.

Jen in Okinawa
Mom to a wonderful preschooler,
who just turned three, Noelle!

05-16-2005, 07:28 PM
Have you discovered a good furniture company to buy from that doesn't use toxic materials?

06-08-2005, 03:27 PM
>The formaldehyde is only released if the wood is cut/sanded.
>It does not 'outgas' like a foam mattress. What you probably
>got the effects of was either the foam or plastic that the
>piece was packaged in. I think that you will find that your
>furniture is fine now that it has aired in your garage.

Unfortunately, I have read to the contrary. That depending on heat and moisture it will still do that. Of course you can find Formaldehyde-free, but I'm betting it's not the stuff we see at IKEA. You wouldn't believe how much stuff this is in! I was researching it for flooring, and it was scarey! I'm so glad that we lucked out with some old family furniture and, the majority of MDF-stuff is in rooms we do not sleep in. Of course now baby is not getting wainscoting in her room.

Thus why I didn't get my beautiful new laminate or veneer wood floors. =(


06-08-2005, 03:53 PM
The dresser we purchased STILL offgasses very heavily! We have relegated it to garage use only. I'm not willing to risk it.

Google and search for eco-friendly furniture companies...they're out there.

We lucked into some handed-down furniture recently, too, which makes me sleep better at night, knowing the little ones aren't inhaling nasty fumes.