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Will be installing decorative wall molding using 1x4 and 1x3 lumber. Best choice of wood? Or should I use MDF? It will be painted white.
 

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a very large percentage of professional interior moldings
and trim are MDF - primed and painted accordingly.
moisture is the killer of MDF. (take that into consideration).

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Will be installing decorative wall molding using 1x4 and 1x3 lumber. Best choice of wood? Or should I use MDF? It will be painted white.
MDF is alright for molding if it's used somewhere that doesn't get wet. It's literally a sheet of paper. If you can find some clear pine that would work well. Knots present a problem with the sap bleeding through the paint. If you could find some poplar that would work very well. It's mostly clear and doesn't have the sap problem pine does.
 

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Not an mdf fan, don't allow it in my shop. Don't car much for pine either. For trim that's going to be painted, I usually use poplar. If you have a real lumberyard or preferably a millwork shop nearby, you can get poplar in various widths, longer lengths, and generally good quality. Poplar isn't that expensive and easy to work with.
Mike Hawkins
 

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I have only one positive to say about MDF, it is fairly stable...until it absorbs moisture. There are different grades MDF and the big box stores usually sell seconds so it can come apart.

This stuff will always give off Urea-formaldehyde as formaldehyde is used for the glue along with wax to manufacture the stuff. It is very dusty and you will need a respirator (recommended) as the dust is a health hazard. It will have a pimple everywhere you nail that will have to be sanded down or cut off. It is also very hard on your cutters and blades.

Other than all this, I still don't like it. A little reading for you:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medium-density_fibreboard
 

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Thanks for all the help, guess I am going with poplar. Since there will be exposed end cuts should they be sealed prior to painting? Have seen posts about using joint compound or spackle for this purpose. Any thoughts?
 

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O.P.,

I have always had great results with Poplar. In addition to the positives mentioned above, poplar takes an edge beautifully. For painted projects you can't beat it.
 

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you will have better results sealing any joints with a paintable
latex caulk vs joint compound or spackling.
(accurate cuts will minimize any need for fillers).

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Use caulk as John mentioned. Accurate cuts eliminate it. Thanks to all for their input. I have two bathrooms that I'm going to trim along the ceiling. There is a lumber mill south of town- need to stop and see what they have. Or go to Lowe's and fire up the router. I think what I have on the shelf for the jobs is MDF. Doesn't seem like a good idea to use it
 

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Thanks for all the help, guess I am going with poplar. Since there will be exposed end cuts should they be sealed prior to painting? Have seen posts about using joint compound or spackle for this purpose. Any thoughts?
One option to avoid exposed end grain/cuts is to put mitered returns on the ends. Probably more important if the trim were to be stained instead of painted but might look better if the trim edges have any type of profile.
 

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There is a moisture resistant - rot resistant - termite resistant MDF. It is for indoor/outdoor use One of the manufacturers is Extira
the sheets come in pretty much the same sizes as plywood and some are available up to 16' long. I know of this product because I was going to use it one time but never got around to it
I believe some sign makers use it but cant swear to it.
 

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All the trim in my house is MDF with the exception of the crown molding. I think it's ok depending on what you're doing with it. All my trim was painted white as well and the mdf saved me some money since I was doing my entire house; doors, windows, baseboards. My window sills however are pine with an enamel paint more resistant to moisture. The MDF was also more flexible than pine, and my old house doesn't exactly have perfectly flat walls and floors can be a little uneven. Not terrible, but enough that you could see minor gaps using a stiff board. The MDF allowed me to get a bitter fit along the floors.
 
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