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Use MDF for Molding and Trim?


Question: Use MDF for Molding and Trim?
A reader asks, "We are routing our own baseboards and door trim. My husband wants to use lumber. I want to use MDF because it is considerably cheaper (and we have used MDF before). What's your opinion? Pros and cons of each? Thanks."
Answer: When you say "routing," you mean this literally, right? You plan to take plain, flat lengths of MDF and use a router to cut grooves into it? You may want to test this out, because I'm not sure you'll get clean grooves with the router. There may be too much chipping. I could be wrong - so please let me know how this goes.

MDF, as a general building material, does have its flaws: it doesn't take well to moisture; it tends to warp; etc. As for lumber, even though it does have a grain and can split, I find it easier to work with than MDF. It's "real wood," and it doesn't crumble like MDF does. Baseboard edges are less susceptible to chipping when things hit them. It's a much more forgiving material than MDF is.

In general, if price is the issue, then I don't see anything wrong with using MDF for trimwork. It's so heavily primed and painted that moisture doesn't affect it (it will probably come primed). And it's nailed down so thoroughly that warping isn't an issue--not to mention, you're not using it for structural purposes anyway.

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