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Choosing Moldings

There being so many variations and styles in trim/moldings it can be difficult to choose one. Using a real wood, finger jointed wood, medium density fiberboard, or even synthetics.

First of all when selecting trim for around a door, window, baseboard, or even crown molding. How a piece of molding is defined is the first sign of quality when looking to purchase pay close attention to detail, deep contours, crisp lines, clearly defined shapes are great characteristics of good craftsmanship. Let’s take a look at each product.

Solid Wood

Is always a great choice and has a great looking profile, although it does not come primed, and because of the knots it can be a little more difficult to work with, depending on lengths it can be a little warped and wavy. Be careful what you choose look for the piece with the less amount of knots and always use a primer before finish painting.

Pros) Great profile detail can be painted or stained, looks great when installed, wood grain will adds a beautiful look easy to nail and can be installed in bathrooms.

Cons) Usually more expensive than other moldings, can be difficult to work with as it comes with knots and warps if not kept right installing can be challenging. Best to use 80 tooth blade.

Finger Jointed

More stable than wood with great looking profiles also comes pre-primed, it is also real wood without the knots being that it is an interlocking material it is less to prone to cupping and warping than real wood. Finger joints can telegraph through the finish so some sanding may be required at the finger joints. This product can be more expensive look for tight joints and a strong wood grain.

Pros) No knots easy to install and comes pre primed, less expensive than solid wood. Easy to nail and can be installed in bathrooms.

Cons) Can be warped and wavy will break at joints if worked too hard finger joints can show thru may need to sand before painting, best to use 80 tooth blade.

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)

This product tends to have softer profiles and does come pre-primed most use this product due to its cost and very easy to work with. Although there are a few things to know before installing, otherwise very user friendly and is readily available at most hardware stores.

Pros) Very inexpensive paints real nice easy to install can be cut with a 40 tooth blade can be worked to adjust to gaps or wavy walls, smooth and stable.

Cons) Dust from cutting can be a concern comes primed. Pneumatic nailers can cause surface chipping and it can’t be installed in potentially wet areas, also sanding too much will cause imperfections.


These are lightweight and immune to moisture. Prices can be 2-3 times cost of other moldings; this product is great for crown molding and cornices cause of its fine detail and available as one piece. Choosing this for a complex detail helps reduce the cost of material and labor costs.

Pros) It’s great for moisture areas and has fine detail for crown molding, does not warp or crack, is dimensionally stable. Is easy to work with and cut, can be used outdoors.

Cons) More expensive, not as durable as wood moldings, can require special adhesives, it is only available at home centers.

All of the above are great products and are available at home centers and lumber stores. Deciding what molding and detail to go with will depend on the area you may choose to install it in. Always make sure to prime before paint and apply a stain or clear coat to moldings that don’t come primed. You can also try different styles and even mix different moldings to create the look you are trying to achieve.

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