Which Is Better: MDF or Pine Baseboards?

Baseboards often have the same look and profile but are constructed of different materials.  MDF (medium density fiberboard) and pine are two common baseboard materials.  Which material is better?

Answer

Pine, whether solid or finger-jointed, is a better baseboard material than MDF.

Because

MDF is a mix of sawdust, wood chips, and binders.  Imagine a dried-up bowl of oatmeal.  That’s a good representation of MDF.  Ranking MDF baseboards lower than pine baseboards is pretty easy:  MDF is crumbly, heavy, and a potential victim of moisture.

Pine baseboards come in two varieties:  solid or finger-jointed.  Solid is as the name says:  one continuous length of wood.  Finger-jointed means several smaller lengths of pine that are factory-joined.

Price Comparison

A price snapshot of baseboards of the same profile and look, 8′ long by 3.25″ high:

  • Finger-Jointed Pine:  $3.50
  • MDF:  $4.50
  • Solid Pine:  $10
  • PVC:  $10

Qualifiers

There are a few reasons you may want to choose MDF baseboards over pine:

  • You Don’t Want to Prime/Paint:  MDF baseboards always come primed white.  While priming is not the same as painting, in a pinch in can serve as “paint.”
  • Cost:  MDF is cheap, but not always as cheap as it is represented.  As shown above, it is cheaper than PVC and solid pine, but more expensive than finger-jointed pine.
  • Predictablity:  Because MDF is 100% manufactured, there are no surprises that await users of natural wood, such as knots and cracks.  It is completely homogeneous.
  • You Expect to Pull It Out:  For temporary construction, MDF baseboards are easy to remove and discard.  They break up by hand into small sections.

 

Author: Lee Wallender

For the last 10+ years, I have been a full-time content producer, consistently ranked within the top 1% of 1200 traffic producing contributors for About.com and The Spruce, brands within IAC. I specialize in creating high quality written content and images for home-related topics such as remodeling, design, and repair.. As About.com and The Spruce's home improvement expert I am intimately aware of renovation and lifestyle trends, and savvy with SEO and social media.

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