Trim - MDF or Wood

buzzyngFebruary 25, 2014

I know this has been debated and have read many comments but wanted to layout our scenario to get some feedback.

We are doing most of the build and finally getting to interior stuff. The 'style' we use to describe the house is rustic elegance. Exterior has exposed large cedar beams, wrap around front porch and rear deck with rough sawn exposed , stone veneer inside and outside.

Cabinets are hickory with a light stain and medium dark hardscraped, distressed floors.

wall color is a forest green for the family rm/kitchen but the hallway and entry is an offwhite/very light gray color that is visible from the above rooms

Doors to the bedrooms are raised panel knotty alder.

The bedrooms will have white MDF for baseboard and window trim.

Looking for guidance in the family room/kitchen area. Originally planned to use hemlock (stained) for baseboards and window trim as it would look good against the green wall color and stone veneer on the fireplace. However, I never really thought about the white vinyl windows and the white french doors ... and how it would look with stained wood.

We went back and forth about using white MDF or stained wood. Finally decided to just use wood and hope it looks ok against the white windows/doors. But now that the cabinets and floors are in, debating again.

Would like to get your thoughts.


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i have a few thoughts. first, i don't mind mixing and matching finishes across trim and doors/windows. in fact i think it's nice because sometimes all white can be too stark for some decor, and all stained wood can be too lodgey, or all rustic, no elegance in your case.

however, i personally wouldn't do different trim throughout the house. i would pick one and carry it through, otherwise to me it looks like the rooms were renovated over the years at different times when it's not consistent.

my final thought is that i wouldn't base my decision for wood or mdf on the color you're painting the walls in one room. that is likely to change, and easy to change over the years. the trim is much much harder to change.

good luck, and please post pictures!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 9:13AM
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We're using both, but with an upstairs-downstairs split, where the flooring material also varies. It is tricky to figure out where things should change when you mix them up, though!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 1:15PM
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I have white doors with wood trim in my family room. I'll try to get a picture and post for you, if interested.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 6:07PM
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Thanks for the comments. I would love to see some pics to show the wife

@maggiepie - understand what you said about mixing trim in rooms. Unfortunately I've already trimmed out the kids room with white MDF so will have mixed regardless.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 6:39PM
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@kirkhall just checking if you have some pics. thx

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 12:39PM
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MDF is not as sturdy as poplar and dents easily making it not as good of a choice for baseboards and door casings though fine for crown moldings.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 4:30PM
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I would recommend only using MDF for crown, everything else needs to be wood or it will look horrible in a few years.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 7:29PM
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I think that you are saying that all your windows are white and all your interior doors are knotty alder? Are the interior door casings stained or white in the kids rooms?

My personal preference (and what I'm going to do in my build) is white windows, white exterior doors with white casing and white baseboards throughout. The interior doors will be stained, with matching stained casing. I think this will give me the brightness of the white windows (and casing consistency) and the contrast needed between the baseboards and the wood floor. I struggled with the baseboards the most because white baseboards are not forgiving- but I can't be 100% practical all of the time.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 8:31PM
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