Help support TMP

"Which Side of the MDF" Topic

12 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Terrain and Scenics Message Board

Areas of Interest


Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Link

Featured Showcase Article

World's Greatest Dice Games

A cheap way to pick up on the latest fad and get your own dice cup for wargaming?

Featured Workbench Article


Personal logo Wyatt the Odd Supporting Member of TMP Fezian paints some fast cats.

Featured Profile Article

Current Poll

1,495 hits since 15 Jun 2015
©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

nevinsrip16 Jun 2015 3:21 a.m. PST

After you cut up a sheet of MDF to use a bases for terrain, which side do you use to affix the terrain? The rough side or the smooth side?
And why?

normsmith16 Jun 2015 4:02 a.m. PST

MDF is equally smooth to both sides.

Hardboard (seldom seen these days) had a smooth and a toothed side.

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2015 4:34 a.m. PST


Both sides have there good points. The Rough side can either hold the terrain to the MDF or hold the piece to the game surface. I always have the rouge side down to keep it from moving during games.

EricThe Shed16 Jun 2015 4:46 a.m. PST

just make sure you treat both sides with pva or paint to avoid warping.

I personally use the rough side up to give a better fix for terrain.

RobH16 Jun 2015 4:54 a.m. PST

Rough down to lessen slip on terrain cloth.

Martin Rapier16 Jun 2015 5:00 a.m. PST

As above, all my MDF is smooth on both sides.

I use PVA as a key though.

JimDuncanUK16 Jun 2015 5:06 a.m. PST

Is there still a bit of confusion between the USA and the UK over MDF and Hardboard.

The OP asked about the rough side versus the smooth side of MDF.

My experience of MDF in the UK is that both sides are the same whereas Hardboard in the UK has a smooth side and a rough side.

I also understand that Hardboard has a different name in parts of the US, I cannot remember what it is.

I am, therefore, still confused.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP16 Jun 2015 5:14 a.m. PST

Near as I can tell, here in the US hardware/lumber stores frequently sell a product called MDF that is, in fact, hardboard. Typically 1/8 thick, fibrous in composition, smooth on one side, with a burlap-looking texture on the back.

nevinsrip16 Jun 2015 5:26 a.m. PST

Crispy… Correct!! Home Depot calls it MDF. I bought several sheets there and used a jigsaw to cut it into amoeba shapes.

I usually use the smooth side for terraining, but this time I thought that perhaps the rough side would take basing materials better. So, I sanded the edges to favor the rough side and painted the smooth side so that it would not warp.
I did not paint the rough side because the basing materials will cover it and I did not want to over do it.

Martin Rapier16 Jun 2015 6:22 a.m. PST

That certainly sounds like hardboard, I tend to avoid using that for modelling as it warps so badly unless you weigh it down while it dries.

Hmm, google throws up a number of interesting contradications as to what MDF and HDF/hardboard are.

MDF is made of wood fibres mixed with resin, whereas hardboard is highly compressed wood fibres and HDF is compressed wood fibres with added resin.

If hardboard doesn't have any resin, it would explain why it seems to soak up so much liquid, but otherwise the difference in US/UK nomeclature is baffling.

MDF – medium density fibreboard
HDF – high density fibreboard
hardboard – compressed wood fibre board

Heisler16 Jun 2015 7:54 a.m. PST

If you are looking for hardboard, you might try a search on Masonite.

JimDuncanUK16 Jun 2015 8:12 a.m. PST


Masonite, yes, that's it!

JezEger17 Jun 2015 3:09 a.m. PST

I'd be cautious using hardboard for terrain. It absorbs moisture very easy and it's even easier to ding the edges. Its not much different than thick cardboard. It's primary use is backing for flat pack cupboards, where these things aren't an issue.
Best stuff I have found is the plastic signs they use for things like for sale signs.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.