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Is MDF for skirting boards recommended?

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  1. #1
    Member celestem's Avatar
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    Question Is MDF for skirting boards recommended?

    I am looking to put skirting boards and architraves in our house and was looking at a catalogue by M&B http://www.mbsales.com.au/brochures/moulding1.pdf

    In it states:
    Limitations/Warranty - MDF pre-primed mouldings are NOT suitable for the following applications: Around showers, baths and laundries. For exterior applications. Exposure to temperatures greater than 60C. Direct contact with concrete or masonry surfaces unless separated by a damp-proof surface.


    The skirting boards will be sitting on tiles, a masonry surface, so I wondered in general, am I better off with Tasmanian Oak or Jarrah skirting. I'd rather do the job once than find any problems with MDF, whether they be moisture or otherwise.

    How have others fared with MDF skirting? Has it stood the test of time against moisture and have the fixings held on to it firmly over the years?

  2. #2
    Resigned SilentButDeadly's Avatar
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    In that position....they'd be more like stabilised compost for the first couple of years...and then just mere compost.

    Personally.....we used oiled merbau decking for our skirting boards.
    Joined RF in 2006...Resigned in 2020.

  3. #3
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    This key to the Warranty/Limitation statement is moisture. MDF can't handle moisture....
    If where you are putting the MDF on tile is moisture free, MDF is ok. Otherwise, go with a solid timber..
    Good luck with it...

  4. #4
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    MDF is used in many new houses these days. It gives a good paint finish and is more resistant to knocks and scratches than pine. It is also extemely cheap starting at about 80 cents/metre.

    It is definately not suitable for wet areas but otherwise fine for everywhere else inside the house.

    I would only be looking at hardwood skirtings if you wish to laquer them as a feature

  5. #5
    Member celestem's Avatar
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    OK, so moisture is the main culprit for MDF skirting, kitchen is probably not a good idea.

    I looked around a bit more and some MDF skirting is actually sold as High Moisture Resistant (HMR). Maybe this is the stuff that has been invented to avoid the problems with the 'compost' MDF.. .Opinions?

  6. #6
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    HMR is what most (not all) kitchen cabinets are made of. I haven't seen it used for mouldings but then I haven't been looking...
    Don't use mdf mouldings in the bathroom, laundry, kitchen or outside but its fine (and cheap) elsewhere. I'm using it in the bedrooms, hallways and lounge and finger jointed pine everywhere else. I'm also making sure I paint all cut ends and mitres just to be on the safe side. I like the fact you can get long (and straight) lengths of mdf.

    Andy

  7. #7
    1K Club Member jago's Avatar
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    MDF skirting has been around for years in the UK the main problem are not rotting but cutting neat mitres and joining. Its is normally used as a cheap DIY solution and should not be used near water even the HMR stuff, so no bathrooms.

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    MDF in kitchens is usually OK because you probably won't be skirting over your laminated kick-boards (maybe some do?). As architraves, if it's sealed well and is only getting an odd splash and can't pool water it'll be OK. Ours in kitchen is fine 6 years on... Bathrooms, different story.

  9. #9
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    MDf should not be used. Never - curved feature walls only.

    In reference to skirting they dont skirt wet areas - normal use a tile for the skirting however - the other moulding is Architrave - and it is used in wet areas - the builder will often prehang the internal doors first and that includes the arhitraves then the tilers bed and tiles buries the end of the moulding. Water will penetrate in 6 months or in 2 years - then you will need to rip it off - try not to damage the wall re fit the moldings and re Paint.

    Finger jointed pine cost 50c a metre more, it will not paint up quiet as well but you will not suffer any adverse problems after the builders defect period is over. Also go the treated mouldings - if termites are in the area

  10. #10
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    "MDf should not be used. Never - curved feature walls only"

    I don't agree. Installed in non-moisture situations and MDF is good for life...
    I've used MDF in developments as far back as '92 and can assure you it's as good as the day installed.
    Good luck with it.

  11. #11
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    Try being the builder on a 300 unit development and having to remove 600 lengths of architrave - with a fine saw than reinstating timber, patching, no more gapping and painting $30 K it cost them all to save 50c per metre.

    I have worked with developers and can vouch for their lack of ethics when it comes to BCA and saving a buck, most can not lie straight in bed the developers that build their own projects. Why use MDF on the whim that the Builder wont use it in a wet area when for 50c a metre you dont have to double check their every step

  12. #12
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    Sorry Cameron you've had bad experiences.
    However, MDF has it's place and its usefulness and is fine for use in non-moist areas...
    As to budget consideration, this was not the original question. The question was whether MDF can be recomended for skirting. I can endorse it for non-wet areas...
    Good luck with it

  13. #13
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    Yep MDF is fine in non wet areas, including kitchens, and paints up very nicely.
    Remember the 7 p's.
    Proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance.

  14. #14
    Member celestem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cameron View Post
    I have worked with developers and can vouch for their lack of ethics when it comes to BCA and saving a buck.
    I also think that there is a strong chance that the mouldings were not painted right the way around including all ends because this would cost more.

  15. #15
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    Default pre-finished Nu-Wood MDF mouldings

    How about the "Nu-Wood" timber-look skirting sold at Bunnings? Costs $10 (scotia) to $17 (60mm) per 3.6m length of laminated MDF. Has anyone used it, or similar products? I have replaced carpet with laminate flooring in a unit that had no skirting before, so needs something. May as well use laminate skirting to match? Floor is pale (Ikea maple), as are walls. So maybe an oak-colour skirting, or should I go darker? They also sell plastic corner joiners which avoid the need for accurate mitre cutting, and make installation easier. I'm a bit sceptical of how that will look. Brochure is here: Skirting Perth, Skirting Boards, Skirting Board, Skirtings, Wood Skirting

  16. #16
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    I actually don't mind how those corners look. Different, and adds a bit interest, if that's what you're after..

  17. #17
    2K Club Member seriph1's Avatar
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    The simplest solution may be (if you want to use MDF) to do what I am doing on our 1880 Victorian hallway: I am using a 345mm MDF skirting board that's milled to be period-accurate and adding a 19mm strip of solid timber to the bottom - probably Victorian Ash.

    I am machining a spline into both edges and gluing the timber strip to the MDF prior to installation - I will also be pre-priming and pre-painting it all. The primer will be applied to the bottoms and 50mm up the backs of the boards as well. Note that this is for a hallway, so the only water 'should' be when the floor is being mopped.

    All joints will be sealed with high grade, paintable silicon ... there will be no mitres and plinth blocks will be used at the transition points between skirts and architraves.
    Steve
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  18. #18
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    This must be some strange new use of the word "simplest". I don't even see what problem you are trying to solve by using both. Is your skirting really going to be >36cm high!? Those Victorian skirts were big eh?

    I'm using the smaller 28mm high skirting, and found they don't sell the corner moulds for that, so mitres it is. Have started, and mitre box + hand saw is easier than expected. I just hope the MDF does not move too much. Looks good so far.

  19. #19
    2K Club Member seriph1's Avatar
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    You're right - "simplest" is a relative term, that in my case, relates to cost and life expectancy! The job's, not mine!

    We design and make period architectural interiors so it will be a morning's work in our workshop to prepare the boards so they last for another 100 years.

    The problem is that the hallway floor gets mopped each week and I never want to have to worry about the bottoms of the boards getting furry and expanding. I wouldn't have been able to justify buying these skirts normally, (around $40 per metre) but a second hand dealer near us contacted me and said he had them cheap if I was interested ... I think I paid $2 per metre. They were all 5400 lengths and I didn't want to buy more than we needed, so I just drew up a quick plan detailing what lengths were required .... drove down with a circular saw and cut them on site.

    Yeah, they're huge skirting boards .... but the hallway will look brilliant once it is fully trimmed out with those, 180mm architraves, corner blocks, pediments and a wainscot panelling system we have developed.

    28mm? Pretty small skirt or should it be 280mm?

    Mitre box and handsaw is fine, but I found a cheap hand mitre saw setup was much better. We have one with us on every installation these days.

    Are you coping the internal joins or doing mitres?
    Steve
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  20. #20
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    I have recently re-trimmed my whole house in moisture resistant MDF skirting (180mm), base blocks and architrave boards (92mm) in a colonial style. The MDF boards were cheaper than pine/meranti, and is perfectly flat without the warping issues of natural timber. The interior walls are all brick, I made sure every edge of the skirting boards were primed with 2 coats, to ensure no water (specifically rising damp) does not destroy them. Surface gives a much better painted look than timber also.

  21. #21
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    $40/m for MDF!?
    Yes, mine are only 28mm high. Good enough to covert the gaps around the floating floor, and protect the wall paint from the vacuum cleaner head. This is in a unit that previously had carpet and no skirting at all. I liked the idea of pre-finished flooring and skirting. Its just a warm-up project.
    Was just going to mitre, but might try coping with a jigsaw It has some 45deg bends around a bay window. I suppose that must be mitred.

  22. #22
    2K Club Member seriph1's Avatar
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    If the skirting is that small, I don't think it will be a problem to mitre the internal corners.

    Depending of course what kind of bay window it is, you may get a bit of a surprise when trying to mitre the junctions ... the angle of a "traditional" bay is from memory 135 degrees. This requires a few complex angles - again from memory, I think they are something like 67.5 degrees for the cut from the wall to the first leg of the bay .... then the other cut (at the other end of the first piece in the bay window proper) is 112.5 etc. I remember using a LOT of timber when doing my first one

    If you can run the two side pieces into the front, it will be all 45's though calculating the exact lengths can be "fun" - starting with the ends that start/finish on the outermost face of the bay, then trimming them on the room-side would be easiest I guess ... doing my head in just thinking about - I have drawn it in AutoCAD now and it makes things a LOT easier. The problem with this method is that only if the material is square edged, will it look right, due to the profile running further than the join ..... man, I am glad I didnt get this as a test question at uni!
    Steve
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    ....catchy phrase here

  23. #23
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    Cool MDF for skirtings

    Hi, first time here. Rebuilding after Black Sat fires. First time owner builders!! Building a Harkaway home. Your information has been very helpful. Thank you. House we are living in now has same trim for skirting and architraves, MDF. They have even used the same mould for the chair rail!. Works well in all areas, even the bathroom and laundry, apart from the tiny section right next to the shower, which has swollen. This house is approx. 10 yrs old. Thanks once again for your info and suggestions.
    Cheers Chris

  24. #24
    2K Club Member seriph1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christine3756 View Post
    Hi, first time here. Rebuilding after Black Sat fires. First time owner builders!! Building a Harkaway home. Your information has been very helpful. Thank you. House we are living in now has same trim for skirting and architraves, MDF. They have even used the same mould for the chair rail!. Works well in all areas, even the bathroom and laundry, apart from the tiny section right next to the shower, which has swollen. This house is approx. 10 yrs old. Thanks once again for your info and suggestions.
    Cheers Chris
    First of all WELCOME to the forum! You will find a wealth of information (and opinion) to rival the best around. Please PM me if you'd like to discuss ideas. To explain, I have worked with a number of people who were affected by Black Saturday and might have some insights for you to assist with your project. This may actually turn out to be even more relevant as I have some experience with Harkaway products that might be useful to you guys.

    now, to you issue - the MDF has been wet (obviously) and will continue to swell. It will require replacement in that area but more importantly, the water issue needs to be addressed. Our shower is failing, with tiles coming away from the wall and evidence of leaks starting to appear. It will be a pretty big job for me and I am not looking forward to it - one thing's for certain though .... the bugger won't leak again! Poor planning, poor design and poor execution are the big factors in all things .... it just seems wet areas really make us pay for our failings.
    Steve
    Kilmore (Melbourne-ish)
    Australia

    ....catchy phrase here


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