Building, DIY, Furniture
comments 10

Valchromat – It’s not just MDF

You guys already know all about my love of raw materials. I think half of our interior is made from plywood, OSB and bog standard MDF.

Like this:

MDF Shelving

Built in MDF shelves. Left bare, because I liked ’em like that. My dad, (actively) did not.

Birch plywood featured heavily in our recent loft conversion. Varnished, bare and stained black. Oh and the poplar plywood floorboards. Don’t forget those.

Orientated Strand Board (OSB) has been used in a few projects now too.

Home office with Magnetic wall and OSB Desk

The first being in my home office, 18 months or so ago where I made my own desk top. Still going strong and getting better with age….

….and again in a commercial design project where it was used for bespoke wall units, a conference table, standing desk and modular display/room divide.

I think it’s fair to say, if I had the choice of having something built from solid oak or walnut, you know, something proper posh and pricey or something from ply, MDF or OSB… i’d go for the underdog. You can make your budget go way further and be more creative with the design.

So what’s prompted this intro, I hear you ask.

Kid's bedroom

The small boy’s bedroom

Our child has grown. And it keeps happening. His legs are getting increasingly closer to the footboard of his bed. It’s that time everyone. Single bed time! Seems like an easy thing to sort no? Yeah, yeah it is. But it also isn’t. This is the current layout of our little man’s bedroom:

Kid's bedroom Floor Plan Before

The new single bed (approx 100cm x 200cm) won’t fit where the bed is now. The door swing will be right up against the footboard. Not great Feng Shui. And you’ll have to chicane around the door to get into the room. Overall, not a great layout.

We don’t really want to re-hang the door as it will mean re-wiring and plastering in a new light switch on the left hand wall. We can’t fit the new bed either side of the window either. Ideally, we’d knock that chimney breast out as it’s in the way. But that’s a rather big job too. So after playing with several layouts and options we’ve settled on this. And I think it’s going to be pretty darn cool.

The plan is to build floor to ceiling modular shelving across the back of the room, either side of the chimney breast to create a false back wall. This way the new single bed can simply sit along the side, with the shelving to the side of the bed acting as a bedside table.

My brain immediately began playing with a tonne of ideas. The first being, “what shall we make the shelving from?”  There’s obviously the option of using what we know and love best, plywood? OSB? MDF?…..

…. or….

…. what about Valchromat?



Valchromat is a wood fibre panel, very similar to MDF but it’s coloured throughout. The fibres are coloured individually, impregnated with organic dyes and chemically bonded together by a special resin. This gives Valchromat unique physical and mechanical features. On average it’s 30% stronger, having a much greater load resistance than standard MDF. Perfect for oodles of shelves no?


First introduced in 1998, it underwent extensive testing in furniture applications, in residential and commercial design projects by technicians, architects and interior designers.  Valchromat finally hit the market across Europe at the end of 1999, so it’s been around a while. But I only spotted it a year or so ago whilst watching an old episode of Grand Designs where it had been used to amazing effect by architect Henning Stummel in the design of his home, the Tin House. It’s really worth a look.

Tin House by Henning Stummel – Photography by Timothy Soar

Valchromat comes in several colours so it’d be a brilliant material to use in a modular full-height bookcase. You could have some real fun, creating a design feature as well as solving the room’s layout and adding copious amounts of much needed storage to little one’s room. Who knows, maybe we can even get the Lego up there and reclaim our living room. That’d be nice.

The boards can be finished the same way as any other woods, with oil, wax or varnish. Whatever finish you choose, it’s this that really brings out the colour in the boards. And the great thing is, if you scratch or dink the surface, the colour doesn’t chip off, just lightly sand back the surface and re-finish again. Brilliant.

I really hope we get to this stuff in our next project, it’s a material i’ve been itching to work with. And my joiners are interested in experimenting too. As ever though, it will all depend on ££. Time to get the calculator out.

Has anyone else here used it? Seen it? It’s certainly an interesting material. Let me know what you think.




  1. Ooh, I do love a new material to talk about and this one is new to me. That last shot of the moulded version is stunning.
    Thanks so much for sharing. Hmm, could this be a part of next year’s kitchen project?

    • Karen Knox says

      Ooh I hope so. I would absolutely love my kitchen made from this stuff. The finish on it is gorgeous!!

    • Don Kline says

      So, I see you Brits spell ton with an extra n and an e tacked onto the end to hold the word together. Clever, our forebears (and their descendants).

      Valchromat*—I discovered it just today and, hence, you. (Great blog, btw). I am considering specifying its use for a lobby reception station in a building designed by Mies van der Rohe. Will keep you posted. (Mies once said, “I like all colors, as long as they are black or white.” Nonetheless…

      What were they thinking when they named it that?! Velcro-mat?

  2. Looks like a pretty cool material. I’m totally with you on the plywood and osb, I love raw materials. I hope you can make this work as I’m really looking forward to seeing how the room will turn out.

    • Karen Knox says

      Hi Rebecca, Valchromat is actually non-toxic, the Formaldehyde emissions are way lower than standard MDF and well within limits set by European standards for wood-based materials 🙂

  3. FabWood says

    Just built shelves in Valchromat (30mm) and solid oak. Waxed finish. Stunning!

  4. Anonymous says

    Bonsoir ,svp vous me données l’adresse du distributeurs du Mdf valchromar

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