MDF is a popular baseboard material because it is durable enough for most homes while being very inexpensive.
But can you rely on MDF to be sufficiently waterproof to use it in the bathroom?
MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard), a wood composite made up of wood fibers, can be used as a baseboard material for bathrooms, but it is far from the best option. MDF is not waterproof, so mold and water damage can develop if you do not treat it or waterproof it properly.
There are many alternatives to using MDF baseboard without breaking the bank.
And while there are a few different ways to waterproof MDF, some methods are more effective than others.
Before using MDF baseboards, you should learn all there is about this material and determine whether or not it’s right for your bathroom.
Is MDF Baseboard Safe?
MDF is considered safe as it is made of nothing but composite wood.
The dangers of MDF lie not in the wood but in the chemical process used to bind it.
MDF baseboards are usually not much of a concern because they never come in contact with your skin.
However, safety concerns arise when talking about things like MDF furniture.
Although the health concerns are generally outweighed by MDFs low price and the fact that it is sustainable, MDF makes use of wood fibers that otherwise would be discarded.
MDF baseboards are safe to use, but be mindful of children or small pets who may bite or otherwise ingest MDF, which can be dangerous.
Is MDF Baseboard Waterproof?
MDF is by no means waterproof. I wouldn’t even feel comfortable calling it water-resistant.
MDF is made of wood that will swell, crack, or warp while taking on water.
Recommended read: How to Repair Water Damaged Baseboard in the Bathroom
While naturally, MDF is not waterproof, the good news is it’s usually easy for it to become waterproof.
Waterproofing your baseboards is not necessary for most parts of your home, but when it comes to the bathroom, waterproofing MDF baseboards should be standard practice.
How to Waterproof MDF Baseboard in the Bathroom
Tools You Will Need
- Paint Brush
- Waterproof Primer
- Waterproof Paint
- Painters Tape
- Plastic Sheeting
1. Prepping the Space
Start off by cleaning your MDF baseboards so that they are free of dust and debris.
A rag along with some hot water and soap should work just fine, then dry your baseboards.
Clean, dry baseboards make it easier for the paint to adhere to them.
Next, lay down plastic sheeting and tape it down right below the baseboard this will protect your floor from any spilled paint.
Also, use painter’s tape just above the baseboard which will protect your walls.
You can put plastic sheeting on your walls if you feel it’s necessary.
2. Painting Your Baseboards
Bring out your waterproof primer and apply it you your paintbrush. Then paint your MDF baseboards.
Make sure you are applying the primer evenly and thoroughly.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions given with the primer in regards to drying time.
In most cases, primer takes anywhere from 4 to 8 hours to dry.
While you wait, you can clean out your paintbrush and get ready to apply the waterproof paint.
With the primer dry, apply your paint just as you applied the primer.
Then wait for the paint to dry, and your MDF baseboards will now be waterproof.
3. Cleaning Up
With the painting complete, you can begin cleaning up by removing painter’s tape and plastic sheeting.
Every waterproof paint is different, so consult the manufacturer’s recommendation on how long the paint will fully cure.
You may have to wait anywhere from 12 hours to 3 days for the paint’s waterproof barrier to cure completely before using your bathroom.
Alternatives to MDF Baseboard in the Bathroom
The following are some alternative materials you can use as baseboards in your bathroom instead of MDF.
While MDF is made of a wood composite, you can undoubtedly see the difference compared to a 100% wooden baseboard.
Wooden baseboards look amazing, whether they’re made of oak or mahogany, with many styles and designs to choose from.
The issue with wooden baseboards is they are more expensive than MDF yet still need to be waterproofed before being used in the bathroom.
Tile baseboards seem like a natural fit for the bathroom, with tile being such a prevalent material in that space.
And tile baseboards look amazing and give you plenty of stylish options, from the standard ceramic and porcelain to the more exotic glass and marble.
Tile baseboards can be difficult to install, and extremely expensive depending on your choice of material, although they are naturally waterproof.
Vinyl baseboards serve as a great middle-ground between wood and vinyl baseboards.
There are less expensive vinyl options that look like they came out of an office building to high-end products that realistically imitate wood and natural stone.
Vinyl baseboards are easy to install and are waterproof.
But depending on your choice of style, either your design or pocketbook will suffer.
Yes, you can cope MDF baseboards, and it is quite easy to do. However, you may have some trouble with the corners.
You can bend MDF baseboard, and one popular method to bend it is what’s called Kerf Cutting. But be cautious. Other methods to bend MDF baseboard have caused the baseboard to snap or crack.