MDF or Wood Skirting Board

Deciding between MDF or wood skirting board can be difficult, but to help you make your decision, we discuss everything you need to know.
Written By: David White | Updated:
MDF or Wood Skirting Board
David White/DIY Works

Whether you choose an Ogee, Torus, Bullnose, Ovolo or one of the many other skirting board designs available, the material they are made from may differ.

In the UK, the two most popular materials used for skirting boards are either MDF or wood and below, we discuss the reasons why and why not to choose them.

Choosing Wood For Your Skirting Board

Although wooden skirting board is more expensive, it’s far more durable than the MDF alternative. It also has the desirable grains in the skirting board, which many people require because it can give a room far more character. If this is the look that you are trying to go for, wood is the best option and looks even better with a quality lacquer or varnish finish.

Below are the pros and cons of choosing wood instead of MDF for your skirting boards.

Wood Skirting Board Pro’s

  • Very durable and easy to repair
  • It can be varnished or stained
  • Easy to sand down and re-finish
  • Grains in the wood can add character to a room

Wood Skirting Board Con’s

  • It may have some imperfections
  • Requires more preparation before painting
  • Needs more time to make (manufacturing)
  • More expensive to purchase
mdf or wood skirting

David White/DIY Works

Choosing MDF For Your Skirting Board

MDF is short for Medium Density Fibreboard, and it’s a man-made material constructed from a mixture of softwood and hardwood fibres that are compressed in a crusher to form a wooden board.

Unlike wood, MDF is much easier to prepare, and you can paint the skirting boards after a quick sand and prime. Although it may lack the character of natural wood, once they are painted, the finish looks very similar.

Below are the pros and cons of choosing MDF instead of wood for your skirting boards.

MDF Skirting Board Pro’s

  • Easy to handle
  • It doesn’t warp or swell
  • Requires less time to prepare for paint
  • Often much cheaper
  • Available as pre-primed or pre-finished

MDF Skirting Board Con’s

  • Weaker than wood
  • No visible grains or knots (less character)
  • Harder to repair
  • Doesn’t always take nails and screws easily
  • Can crack or split under extreme pressure

Conclusion

Unless you want the character of wooden skirting boards or intend to use a varnish or stain, we would recommend MDF. It’s easier to handle and far more cost-effective in the long run for anyone who’s taking on a project or renovation. Once MDF is painted, it looks pretty much the same as any other painted wooden skirting board but without any of the drawbacks that come with using wood.

Hopefully, this article gives you the answer you are looking for because it was certainly a big factor during my first house renovation, where we had to replace the skirting boards in every room.

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