Wood Trim Alternative

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MDF As Wood Trim Alternative

I’ve been using MDF (medium density fiberboard) for years as both trim and other components in building projects. Sure, you can get simple profiles in the trim section of your favorite lumber yard, but by buying sheets, you can create custom trim profiles & columns.

Wood Trim

Because MDF is essentially compressed wood fibers with resin, it can be shaped and molded quite easily.

Wood Trim

As an alternative to traditional crown mold, I stacked a store-bought piece of drip edge on top of a 3 1/2″ section of MDF with a chamfer and created a unique design. The client loved it!

MDF in Use

I’ve used MDF in varying thicknesses, ripped it to width and given it a subtle profile with great success. Because it creates more sawdust than standard lumber, always use dust extraction and breathing protection when cutting, sanding, or routing MDF. As with a lot of products, the government wants to save us from ourselves, so do some due-diligence and keep yourself and those around you safe.

MDF Base

An example of 1/2″ MDF ripped to 5 1/2″ wide with a slight chamfer to create baseboard.

MDF Header

Combined with traditional wood column mold, this 5″ wide piece of 3/4″ MDF creates a nice shadow effect, while maintaining the historic look of the home.

MDO – MDF’s Cousin

Using MDO (medium density overlay), the creation of smooth panel walls is pretty simple. By using solid-sawn pine trim as panel dividers, the effect can be fairly dramatic, as you’ll see in the video below.

Making Tighter Wood Joints



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Brad Staggs

Contributing Writer/Producer at Tool Skool
Brad has worked in and around the home improvement and tool industry most of his life. He was host of Talk2DIY Home Improvement, Co-produced DIY Tools & Techniques and is the author of Spend a Little, Save a Lot Home Improvement.