What is RTF?
RTF is "Ridged Thermofoil". It is applied to an MDF substrate with heat and heat activated glue under immense pressure in a high vacuum press. The resulting product is very durable. With the new RTF veneers available today, cabinet doors look very much like natural wood. In fact, many of these veneers have natural looking wood grain texture built right into them. RTF has become the most popular choice for homeowners who want a beautiful product without all the care and upkeep of natural woods. Better Homes and Gardens has touted RTF cabinetry as "the 40 year kitchen"!
What is MDF?
MDF is medium-density fiberboard. It has become the most popular composite material in recent years. Because MDF is uniform, very dense, smooth and free of knots and grain patterns, it makes an excellent substitute for solid wood in many applications. It is an excellent base for solid color and wood grain RTF veneers and laminates. It is also the perfect choice for painting because there is no wood grain showing through. Kitchen doors of MDF, as opposed to natural wood, have no joints to crack after they have been painted.
MDF is made up of wood particles and resin. The particles are separated uniformly to make a fine, consistent material that is cooked and pressure steamed. The material is then bound with an adhesive and heat pressed to produce a solid board with many of the same qualities of natural wood, but without many of natural wood's limitations.
Because of MDF's consistent makeup, machining this material with the right tools results in clean, sharp edges without chip-out or fuzzing. Because MDF is more dense than most woods, manufacturers use only the highest quality tools of carbide and diamond for cutting. MDF can be glued and holds screws as well as natural wood.