We are debating whether to use MDF or real wood for interior trim around doors and windows. We're told that the MDF is easier to work with ~ no sanding and possibly cheaper. However, we have gotten mixed reviews from several people, some saying the MDF can warp and dent easier than wood. Can someone with experience address this issue for us?
I would say that MDF is the poor man's luxury product. It cannot handle any moisture but it is smooth, hard, durable and stable (doesn't expand or contract with seasonal change. It takes paint nicely and because it is hard and smooth it requires far less skill in painting to get a great look. It goes up fast and takes paint fast. And if you pre-paint it on all sides and ends with a quality primer it can even handle some moisture. It you want a true high-end look buy select wood. If you want a nice looking job requiring half the time and half the skill the MDF is a good choice.
Mdf is a fair product for the price. I always advise clients to choose real wood if the budget allows. As to what you have heard; Mdf in a dry interior environment will not warp like wood. It should not be installed in kitchens, bathrooms or outdoors. A good carpenter can use wood or mdf to provide pleasant finished details. If you can afford it, choose wood.
I wouldn't recommend mdf for trim, especially around windows where condensation could turn the mdf to bloated mush. When MDF gets wet is expands a LOT, so don't use mdf anywhere there is moisture such as bathrooms, kitchen, exterior doors and windows.