It will be of little surprise to architects and other specifiers that MDF isn’t normally the most suitable construction material for exterior applications. The material will swell in wet conditions, shrink and quickly lose its structural integrity. While moisture-resistant MDF panels are available, they are really only suited for environments with high humidity or light exposure. They may be more durable than traditional MDF, but still lack dimensional stability. Simply put, they just aren’t robust enough to withstand the harshest of outdoor weather conditions over an extended period of time.
With a new product development that is set to defy conventions in the construction industry, innovative timber panel manufacturer MEDITE SMARPTLY has developed an MDF material capable of enduring the most extreme outdoor elements. MEDITE TRICOYA EXTREME (MTX) is guaranteed for up to 50-years of outdoor use with applications as wide-ranging as building facades, shop fronts, garden furniture and exterior design installations. The material gives all of the design, fixing and machining flexibility of MDF with the added benefits of enhanced durability and stability in external wet environments.
By putting the wood fibres through an organic procedure called acetylation, the chemical make-up of the wood is altered. Chemical groups in timber called free hydroxyls are responsible for absorbing and releasing water depending on external climatic conditions. By reacting the core raw material with Acetic Anhydride, these hydroxyls are transformed into acetyl groups, which are responsible for dramatically reducing the wood’s tendency to absorb moisture.
What is more, the environmental credentials of the sustainably-sourced timber are maintained throughout this process. No toxic by-products are produced from the treatment as acetyl groups are already naturally present in the wood and the resin used is formaldehyde-free, making MTX suited to environmentally-sensitive areas.
So, for environmentally-conscious architects and designers, MTX opens up a whole new world of possibilities. It has already been used for an impressive array of design projects in outdoor spaces – many of which can only be seen to be believed!
There is perhaps no better example of this than sculptor Alex Devereux’s use of MTX to create a replica cast iron structure inspired by the Tyne Bridge. The sculpture, which Devereux secured to a stone wall, would not have been feasible in metal due to its weight. Nor would its outdoor installation be possible if it was made from traditional MDF. But, given MTX’s lightness, durability and stability, which in turn enhances the service life of the sculpture’s iron-style coating, Alex was able to realise his artistic vision.
From beach huts and rollercoasters to garden designs, buildings and sculptures, MTX will be the ideal solution for designers and architects faced with all manner of challenges associated with the external environment. The material enhances design practice and ensures creative design is not inhibited or restrained by the practicalities of weather or the logistics of installation. It is also an ideal alternative to PVCu for fascia, capping and soffit boards, providing a more authentic timber finish, as well as effective resistance to rot and fungal decay.
Another area where MTX can score over PVCu, and indeed natural hardwoods, is in the manufacture of doors and windows. Here, joiners can rely on the 50-year guarantee, while also benefiting from the design flexibility of a sheet material.
It’s been noted by architecture and design commentators that we are entering the beginning of the ‘timber age’, due to wood’s sustainability, performance and aesthetic appeal. MTX is set to accelerate this wider shift, opening up possibilities for timber that were once unthinkable.
For more information visit the MEDITE SMARTPLY website