About MDF Trim

Who cares how MDF is made – let’s just skip to how to paint it. Think of MDF trim as a super stiff smooth sponge. If you place a piece of MDF trim in water it will pucker up to the point you may not recognize it, no joke.

Let’s say you put MDF in your bathroom and the water from the shower drips onto the floor with a puddle near the baseboard. MDF if not properly primed and painted will absorb that water and the baseboard will be destroyed. It’s really as simple as that.

Another scenario, let’s say your basement floods and your baseboard and trim gets wet, your MDF trim is ruined. It’s as simple as that.

So, if you know your MDF will come in contact with water (melting snow from boots) or (spill something in the kitchen), your MDF MUST have an oil based primer applied to ALL edges, front, back, top, bottom, the saw cuts, everything or you leave yourself open for damage to your investment. It’s as simple as that.

If your trim or molding is already installed, well then you learned a valuable lesson just now, if it’s not installed, take the time to dry cut your pieces and prime the pieces entirely with an oil-based primer. Do this for any area you feel might come in contact with water even 1 table spoon of water will destroy MDF. DO NOT think for a second putting oil-based primer on the face of your MDF will prevent any damage from water, it won’t.

The theory of MDF is to save the consumer or builders money but in fact, finishing MDF costs more than if you simply bought pine trim which is a hell of a lot more durable than MDF. Pine trim while still not the preferred trim of choice at least won’t chip apart when you whack it accidentally with the sweeper or pull the cord hard for that matter. Dogs love MDF too!

About the photo: Water damage on MDF from the carpet cleaner who dripped a little water on the floor. Sure he wiped up the spill but the water was underneath the baseboard and this is in an area where no water was expected.

See also: Painting MDF and issues with filling nail holes on MDF

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