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Friday, July 24, 2015

DIY-ing MDF baseboards.

We have had new floors in the living room, dining room, and family room for 5 months now and we are still loving them.  In true cost-saving fashion, we tried to save the baseboards when Brian removed them before laying the floor, but they were in really rough shape.  Admittedly, my hubby is not the gentlest of creatures, but he was really trying to save these suckers.   Sadly, no matter how gently he tried getting them off, those suckers snapped like wafers.  

Brian put the flooring down and we lived without baseboards for 5 months.  The biggest challenge to living without baseboards was that the boys' K'nex, and Legos would roll into the crack and then I would have to dig it out.  After 5 months of that, I was d.o.n.e.

Deciding what kind of baseboards to install wasn't exactly easy.  I knew that I wanted something tall and fairly simple.  The moulding around our windows and doors is fairly decorative, so I didn't want baseboards that were too fancy.  It's just not my style.  I wasn't sure if I wanted something really simple or with a bit of flair.  After trolling the baseboard aisle at Lowe's, I brought home two 5.5 inch tall samples - one very simple and the other with a touch of curve to it.  We set them on the floor and lived with it for awhile, until I decided that the simple one was the way to go.  

I had a bit of sticker shock when researching these things.  We needed roughly 150 feet of baseboard moulding, meaning that we would need around $250 worth of MDF moulding.  Determined to pay less than that, I floated the idea of buying sheets of MDF and ripping them into baseboards.  Sure, we'd have to sand and prime them ourselves, but after waiting for 5 months for baseboards, I wasn't worried about the process taking a bit longer in order to save some cash.  

Brian purchased 3 sheets of 4'x8' MDF and ripped each into eight 6-inch tall boards.  We sanded the cut edges nice and smooth to prep for primer.  MDF dust is nasty stuff, so don't do what my husband does and wear a respirator!  MDF does, however, sand very easily, so this process went pretty quickly. 

I wanted to have the boards primed and fairly well painted before installing them so that I would only have to do touch-ups once on the wall.  MDF is essentially compressed sawdust, so it'll soak up liquid like a sponge.  In order to prevent this, we used an oil-based primer.  I used the remainder of a can of Kilz until that was gone, then moved onto Zinnser BIN; both worked well.  One thing I love about primer is that it dries insanely fast, but the texture of the dried primer bothered me.  It didn't necessarily look bad, but it was kinda rough.  I took a high grit sanding block and smoothed out the texture before moving on to paint.  

Can I just say that I LOVE the fact that Lowe's now carries Sherwin-Williams paint??  I'm a big S-W girl, but Lowe's is literally 2 minutes from my house.  Now I can get my very favorite paint closer to my house.  Yippee!!

Anyway, I sent Brian to Lowe's to grab a can of Ovation Paint+Primer Extra White in a Semi-gloss finish.  I like a little shine to my trim, especially in a house full of boys.  It's more durable and easier to clean.  Here's a tip - even when you want to use Extra White, ask them to tint it at the paint counter.  It seems to have much better coverage that way.  Brian was unaware of this little tidbit, so he just grabbed a gallon off of the shelf.  It took me 2 coats of paint to get good coverage, but my guess is that it would only have taken one coat with the extra tint in there.  Oh well, husband now knows!

Brian installed the baseboards using a nail-gun and compressor he borrowed from work.  The finish work is usually my job, so I told Brian not to bother with mitered corners, as I was going to caulk the cracks anyway.  

I have very, very little experience with caulking, but every tutorial I've ever read stresses how easy it is.  First up, gather your supplies - caulk gun, caulk, tape, and paper towels.  We just happened to have this caulk in the basement, so I went with it.  I have no complaints about it!

Next, use the painter's tape to create a barrier on your wall, very close to the top of the moulding.  I left barely any wall showing.  If you are caulking a surface that isn't white, you may want to tape the second surface as well.  But since our baseboards are white and I was using paintable caulk, I didn't bother with taping the baseboard.  Only work in 3-4 foot sections, because we want to be sure to take the tape off before the caulk dries.

Now, it's time for caulk.  Cut a small hole in the tip of the caulk tube.  Keep it small, and cut it on a diagonal.

 I found that just a light squeeze works well, and I moved the caulk gun fairly quickly.

As a newby, I was definitely not neat and tidy during this process.  But it's cool, because it still needed to be smoothed.

I took my finger and gently smoothed out the line.  Stock up paper towels for this part!  A little bit of warm water helps for stubborn gunk too.

When the caulk is nice and smooth, it's time to remove the tape.  You want to pull the tape at a 45 degree angle to get a nice crisp line.

Sit back, admire your nice lines, and then move on to the next section!

How pretty is that??  Once I caulked the top of the entire room, I moved on to caulking the floor seam.  I didn't take photos for that, because it was essentially the same process.  After some wood putty to fill the nail holes and a little bit of paint touch-ups, the baseboards are looking beautiful.  I'll share photos of the family room soon!

We definitely saved money doing it this way rather than the ready-to-install baseboards.  Instead of buying $250 worth of moulding, we spent $96 on 3 sheets of MDF.  We had to buy paint and nails either way, and we had primer and sand paper on hand, but even if we had bought those things, we still saved at least $100.  Pretty baseboards at a cheaper price ... I'm in love!!

**No affiliate links, and no affiliations with any products mentioned.  Just linking to things that work well for me!

Linking up with: A Pumpkin and a PrincessArtsy Fartsy MamaHome Stories A-to-Z, A Glimpse Inside

1 comment:

  1. Great post!
    I was thinking about doing the same thing in my house, glad it turned out well! Looks great! Thanks for the info!


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