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I am in the market for baseboard in my son's room. I am now trying to decide between pine or MDF. In New York we get humid summers and cold winters. Since one of the walls will need two pieces, I am afraid of expansion and shrinkage exposing the seam.

What is the best material to use, between the two, where price is not a factor as I priced both out and I can do either? I'm looking for easy to work with and reduced fluctuation answers.

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MDF may be marginally more stable, but in my extensive experience it's far too fragile to be used for house trim. I wouldn't install it if it was free. It dents and scratches like nothing.

If you're doing a typical bedroom you shouldn't have field joints, as either is available in 16-foot lengths. Even if you do, a well-glued and well-nailed miter won't come open.

If you do the corner copes well (and I did say copes--don't miter inside corners), and if you pre-tension them a bit (cut a sixteenth to an eighth long and flex the center in), and if you use a good wood glue at the joints, you shouldn't have winter gapping.

If you really want to be sure, use oak. There's no rule that says oak can't be painted. The cost difference is often negligible between red oak and clear pine.

  • Thanks. Sounds like good advice. With the pre-tension..? I would distribute the slack throughout? – Keep It Moving Nov 7 '16 at 20:17
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    Yes, you don't want to work a bulge to one point. Set the ends, press it all in and hold it tight along the entire length while you nail it. Be careful not to overdo it and damage the drywall. On a 12-foot wall the bulge should only be 3-6 inches and should press in fairly easily. – isherwood Nov 7 '16 at 20:26
  • Red Oak does not paint well unless you like the look of painted grain - not many do. – DMoore Nov 9 '16 at 1:34

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