Baseboards! wood vs composite? [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


View Full Version : Baseboards! wood vs composite?

05-09-2007, 09:33 AM
Hi All,

I'm at the baseboard stage on a 900 sq. floor tile job, including the main bathroom. Just like an opinion of wood vs the composite type. We plan on moving in the next yr. or so. My concern also was with the composite in the main bathroom, with moisture etc.

I'm going with the wider stuff (5 1/4 ") so price is a factor.

Any help would be great.


Sponsored Links

05-09-2007, 09:41 AM
I think it depends on what you're going to do with it. Wood looks best, I think, but if you're just going to paint it and price is a factor, plus you're moving in a year, composite might be just fine.

How does the rest of the remodel look? Is it a cosmetic, mid-price, good-looking job, or is it a total overhaul, spared no expense, glitzy masterpiece of DIY effort? If the latter, don't cheap out on the baseboard.

Just my opinion! I'm no pro, but I had to make the same call and went with wood.

05-09-2007, 09:49 AM

Yeah it will be painted, tile job came out nice 18" ceramic, with deco tile here and there, yes a "cosmetic, mid-price, good-looking job" would describe it. The house will probably be listed in the mid 200k area. I guess my main concern was how well this stuff holds up to moisture too.

Thanks Josh

05-09-2007, 09:52 AM
Hmmm... others can give you better advice on that, I think. Got any pichers of the job? We like pichers...

05-09-2007, 09:56 AM
'Composite' will actually hold up better than wood to moisture. I think yr talking about MDF, which isn't composite - it's compressed paperish fiber. If I'm mistaken, disregard:

Properly painted and primed MDF will be fine in a bathroom. It's only an issue when it's in direct contact with water. I've never had that prob in any of my bathrooms (they're all mdf trim).

The upside of MDF is that it conforms to wall irregularities better, and (IMHO) hides seams better, bkz it machines like butter.

The downside is that it can't be stained and it's vulnerable to nicks. In fact, I think there's more risk of yr base taking kicks and dings than it getting too wet.

For crown molding, IMHO, MDF is a nobrainer. But for base, it's a toss up.

05-09-2007, 10:02 AM

Yes... MDF.

I guess cleaning the tile/grout could be a problem is water gets under the MDF, where it won't be painted. As far as priming goes... I really like the pre-primed aspect of it... Lowe's version anyway.

05-09-2007, 10:16 AM
I'm gonna agree with Shawn on the benefits of the mdf stuff...

I got mine at Lowe's -- the pre-primed aspect was big for me, plus it is very smooth, saving you all the time and PITA of sanding and priming bare wood. It's very easy to work, so if you are coping your inside corners (recommended), this will go faster and easier. It's very stable, so your miters/scarfs/whatever are probably going to stay closed.

I've got a couple of rooms done with it so far and it has held up well, although none are in constant contact with water of course. Yes, it dents if you smack it with something, but so will pine.

As far as along the floor, after you set your baseboard, run a bead of caulk along the floor edge and I think you'll be fine.

Also, I usually do a first coat of paint before I install it, or even two coats, then nail it up and just touch up the spots that need it. (This way I'm not trying to paint the edges while it's already installed, which is fussy and slow.) You could get a coat of paint on that lower edge this way... even a little on the back if you want, and it will help waterproof it a bit.

Maybe when I get home I'll throw a scrap in a bucket of water and see what it does...

05-09-2007, 10:20 AM
mdf has a better looking finish. It also doesn't expand and contract as much as wood so you see less seams.

05-09-2007, 10:23 AM
Interesting -- good question Josh!

Sounds like the general consensus that MDF is better than wood for painted baseboards...

05-09-2007, 09:00 PM
Thanks ALL!

The MDF seems to be the best choice for this job.

...gotta love this place. :tup2:

05-10-2007, 08:44 AM
One more thing: prime the underside and backside of the trim. This will marginally protect them if they come in contact with water. If you REALLY want to protect the base from water, you could use an exterior semigloss latex.

Prime yr miters and scarfs too. Nail them close to the edges and you shouldn't have to use any glue.

You could also use a wood shoe molding at the base of the base, which'll buffer the base a little.

You didn't want to run bullnose base tiles up the wall?

05-15-2007, 07:31 AM
I like to paint all sides (including the cut ends) of MDF prior to installation to improve resistance to changes in humidity. MDF will be more susceptible to dings / nicks than pine. If this were another room in the house like living room or bedroom I might stay away from it for baseboard moulding. Especially if you have small children. Toy cars, riders, kid walkers, etc. always end up hitting the walls/moulding and MDF (especially on outside corners) won't take a hit as well as wood. Also, if you use door stops that install/screw into the baseboard (vs. those that install on the door hinge) AND you have people/kids that swing open doors aggressively and hit the stops fairly hard, the MDF may start to "mush" and not hold up as well.

Also - believe it or not, MDF has a grain to it - I think it's manufactured in it tends to split when nailed through the ends (like an outside corner being nailed together). Predrill for sure if using hammer. Air compressor / nail guns with small brads may not cause that as much.