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MDF trim. what is the deal with that?

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  • MDF trim. what is the deal with that?

    I looked at a job a few months back where the building was unfinished. again some contractor went defunct and the poor guy i went to meet had purchased it for pennies on the dollar. He asked me to quote out the trim job and off I went. The bid got to him in a few days and was what i would call competitive being that it is so slow around here. Well of course the owner didnt think it was reasonable and told me no way. Well we got a call a few days ago by the same owner requesting labor only for all the trim he supplied. We got there and its all MDF that he painted with three coats of paint! Now i could understand the 8 inch crown because of the cost savings and its never gonna be touched except by me and the painter (again) but whats the deal with base, casing, backband, door jambs, stool, even the shoe!!! and this guys got dogs for christ sakes!!!! why this crap was ever brought into our industry is beyond me. We use it it limited amounts form job to job but never in this quantity. Been wearing dust masks but doesnt seemed to help. What percentage of homes use mdf vs wood do you guys experience? Guess im just ranting cuz the stuff sucks. Nails like crap, can hardly cope it, long lengths are like speghetti and break easily. Whats the deal?

  • #2
    Re: MDF trim. what is the deal with that?

    Well, you get better at working with it over time. It's brought into the industry for exactly the reason you mentioned- cost. Initial cost.

    Really, it does hold up relatively well for casing and baseboard. Some high use corners can be damaged, but hey- it's cheap to replace, right?

    Dust masks are pretty useless for anything anyway- they'll stop a little of the big stuff, but really a respirator works better.
    http://www.lavrans.com

    "He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts; for support rather than illumination." -Andrew Lang

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    • #3
      Re: MDF trim. what is the deal with that?

      Don't worry about it - you get used to having brown boogers after a while :). Or you could just buy a Kapex and a CT33 and not have to worry about it.

      Also, a lot of guys who cope everything don't cope MDF. I cope it iand it isnt too bad, you just have to be very careful at the thin edges. I usually cope it a little thick and touch up the edge with a utility knife.

      Where I am, MDF is very common especially for crown, large base, and window casing. Prehung doors are usually cased with wood.
      A person that works with his hands is a laborer.
      A person that works with his hands and his head is a tradesman.
      A person that works with his hands, his head, and his heart is a craftsman

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      • #4
        Re: MDF trim. what is the deal with that?

        well he did not like your bid -picks up cheaper material and thinks he got such a deal because he paid so much less then your material cost .he would probable settle for less quality instalation also . that is also just a rant .
        but seriously what happens when you come up short -will he be able to get it easily? He may of saved you alot of running around picking it up and prepainting .mdf goes up fast , takes glue well and means you can hide mistakes . get one of these ,you will feel better http://www.dustbeegone.com/dustmask.html

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        • #5
          Re: MDF trim. what is the deal with that?

          MDF jambs? are you kidding me! No thanks,

          ML

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          • #6
            Re: MDF trim. what is the deal with that?

            Hopefully he painted better than my HO. All the crown, casing, base, and shoe (FJP) had drips on the back that had to be scrapped off, as well as small remnants of cardboard. PITA
            SteveC
            The improbable takes time, the impossible takes a little longer.

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            • #7
              Re: MDF trim. what is the deal with that?

              MS

              i worked with a young aussie chippie a couple of years ago, from perth i think. mdf door linings are standard in his area


              MDF base and door casing, is a stock item in most builders/timber merchants here. its all pre primed.

              at this level of quality, we call it house bashing, the painters get to fill rough coping
              Last edited by Tom Bainbridge; 04-29-2010, 03:30 PM.
              Limey Carpenter

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              • #8
                Re: MDF trim. what is the deal with that?

                The biggest advantage to MDF other than cost is it reduces demand on real wood hence leading to lower costs. Plus once you get used to MDF It is easier/faster to install.. Try and use an 18 gauge nailer only. The bigger nails leave big holes. Get used to it because it's here to stay.
                ~Kent~

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                • #9
                  Re: MDF trim. what is the deal with that?

                  I have always turned jobs down when I see the builder is using MDF. I hate the stuff. Has to be the most toxic thing a carpenter ever cuts into, totally pollutes the area you cut it in.

                  Guess I have been lucky in that the builders I work for mainly only use it for closet shelving.

                  Pretty much the only thing I use it for is making the raised panels for paint grade wainscot and built-in doors, an occasional column or two and also on some archways, etc.

                  I do see it becoming more common though... but I do my best to stay away as much as possible.
                  Roger
                  http://www.mitrecontracting.com
                  TOLERANCE is the virtue of a man without convictions
                  -G.K. Chesterton

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                  • #10
                    Re: MDF trim. what is the deal with that?

                    I do have the kapex and ct33 but keep it in the shop for "the good stuff" we use dewalt scms's on the jobsite. I did think about bringing the ct out there but wasnt sure how effective it would be in combination with the dewalt. Plus i wasnt sure how the mdf dust would effect the filters in the ct. I dont bring that crap anywhere near my shop becasue how it "pollutes" everything. I do a bit of finishing back there and have a hard enuff time with regular wood dustlet alone that pulverized dirt board.

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                    • #11
                      Re: MDF trim. what is the deal with that?

                      I'm in agreement with Mitrelt, I've done I believe 2 MDF jobs several years ago. After that I've turned them down. I have done jobs where they wanted MDF but after talking to the HO was able to guide them away from it. I've found that if you put the cost difference between MDF and wood as a percentage of the cost of the house it becomes a pretty easy sale.
                      If you bat 1000 you're playing in the minor leagues.

                      Warren Buffet

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                      • #12
                        Re: MDF trim. what is the deal with that?

                        one great advantage of mdf is its never bowed or twisted so bad that it cant be used.easily installs. i have grown to love it for crown molding. consistancy is nice.
                        i still like wood for base though and i would never use it for door jambs. cased opening.....mmmaybe??

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                        • #13
                          Re: MDF trim. what is the deal with that?

                          the ct duxt extractors are happy with mdf, ive a mini and a ct22 for about 5 years

                          ive done a lot of mdf including cabinets

                          the bags are good for mdf, virtually nothing gets past them

                          ive only had to bang the dust out of the filters a couple of times in five years

                          once was for a bag split..... my fault not the bag
                          Limey Carpenter

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                          • #14
                            Re: MDF trim. what is the deal with that?

                            slightly off topic

                            the only dust ive found that clogs festool dust bags is the sanding flour from two pack filler

                            the ct mini only gets half full before you need a bag change, ie loads of two pack filler work
                            Limey Carpenter

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                            • #15
                              Re: MDF trim. what is the deal with that?

                              We go through a couple hundred of sheets a year, only using it for door jambs, rip it to width and then sand. (3/4), and built-ins. We will usually do baltic birch drawers, and mdf carcasses pocket screwed together, and they hold together quite well. All of out trim is poplar, so easy to cope, and quite cheap 2$ a LF for 7 1/4" Base. We can use the clam clamps on poplar... not sure how well they would work on MDF.

                              It is very toxic stuff. Always wear a good respirator, I bought a good one with a silicone face mask so it is very comfortable to wear. I do alot of ripping with my TS55 hooked up to a shopvac, and it does an adequate job.

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