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Economic choice of material for trim

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Forum topic by weathersfuori posted 07-22-2016 01:32 PM 277 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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weathersfuori

31 posts in 596 days


07-22-2016 01:32 PM

Topic tags/keywords: trim materials mdf lumber question milling finishing shaker

Hi all,

I am building an entryway bench/hall tree for someone and this is my first time doing any kind of built-in type project for a home (mostly do small furniture/crafty type stuff and I am even new to that).

I’m planning on building the bench out of Baltic Birch, but am trying to figure out what would be best to use for trim, best meaning cheapest option that will still look clean when painted (white). The trim will be 1×2 and 1×3 material around the bench, and then I’ll also need 1×6 trim for a board and batten look above the bench.

My first thought was to just buy pine or poplar or whatever hardwood was cheapest at the lumber yard. Perhaps even buy rough stock and mill it myself to save costs if it made a difference. But after estimating the cost, I’d like to try to bring it down a little if I can.

Given this will all just be painted white, what would you recommend I use for trim material? Is it worth going to the lumberyard and getting pine or an inexpensive hardwood for the trim, or just using MDF or similar trim boards from a big box store that seem to be a much less expensive option?

Thanks!

-- Weathersfuori, Texas, www.facebook.com/f5creations


10 replies so far

View jmartel's profile

jmartel

6576 posts in 1616 days


#1 posted 07-22-2016 01:38 PM

MDF would probably be cheaper. But it’s way less durable and more susceptible to moisture problems. Poplar is pretty cheap, but quite soft. On the durable end, you could go with maple or beech, but it’s more expensive than the other two.

I’d probably lean towards poplar if money was a concern. If you had a bigger budget, I’d do beech or maple. The murphy bed I built last year used beech and it turned out quite well. Durable, and takes paint nicely. It’s a little cheaper than maple for me, way cheaper in the thicker sizes.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4036 posts in 1818 days


#2 posted 07-22-2016 02:01 PM

Poplar would be my choice. Clear pine is more expensive. No. 2 common pine is cheaper but has knots and pitch seams that make not a good choice for trim.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 169 days


#3 posted 07-22-2016 02:05 PM

Don’t use mdf whatever you do its good stuff but not for trim. at least poplar (which isn’t cheap around here?) like jmart said maple or beach. if you’re doing this for someone and it doesn’t last neither will your reputation. Better to eat up the profit and learn the hard way, than to do low quality work and never work again.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View bonesbr549's profile

bonesbr549

1176 posts in 2533 days


#4 posted 07-22-2016 02:26 PM

MDF if you get it wet will be a gonner. Poplar should be no more tan 1-2 bucks a bf and is a go to choice for painted material (IMO).

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View weathersfuori's profile

weathersfuori

31 posts in 596 days


#5 posted 07-22-2016 02:31 PM

Thanks everyone- this is all very helpful and exactly what I needed to hear. Funny, I’d ruled out using common boards because of the knots, but still needed to hear someone tell me to avoid the temptation to go cheap with the mdf!

Essentially I’m mainly just looking for a cheaper alternative to buying the “select pine” boards at home depot. I feel like I can probably beat the price at a lumberyard with a similar or even slightly better-quality product, but I’m still new to this so I don’t really know (I only avoid the lumber yard because I pass about 6 or 7 Home Depots to get to the nearest lumber yard). This will be my first bigger build like this for someone other than myself.

With that in mind, jwmalone, your comment “it doesn’t last neither will your reputation” definitely applies! I’m going to call around and see what my cheapest option for a hardwood is. Thanks again.

-- Weathersfuori, Texas, www.facebook.com/f5creations

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

819 posts in 386 days


#6 posted 07-22-2016 02:38 PM

weathersfuori,

I agree with jmartel, with some additional amplifying comments.

For this piece, MDF would probably be a bad choice, although probably the least expensive. The foyer floor can get wet from rain brought in on shoes and umbrellas and from mopping. MDF base trim could swell, fuzz-up, and come apart over time. If a raincoat or umbrella hangs somewhere on the piece, MDF trim elsewhere could also suffer from a little moisture. MDF is also a messy and dusty material to work.

Buying already milled trim and S4S boards from the home center, in my experience, is more expensive than buying rough lumber and milling the stock myself. Assuming the total length of trim required is 2’ at each end plus 4’ along the front, 8 bf could produce 2”, 3” and 6” trim all at 8’ long. At $5/bf ($4.25/ bf for 4/4 at my local supplier) for hard maple, that is about $40 total for trim. If 5/4 stock is bought for a little more money, it can be re-sawn to ½” finished thickness, doubling the trim that could be produced from that of 4/4 rough sawn stock. An 8’ piece of 6” MDF base trim at my local home center is $16. Adding additional narrow MDF trim or solid wood trim would add to the total cost and could exceed the cost of milling the trim from rough sawn lumber.

View jmartel's profile

jmartel

6576 posts in 1616 days


#7 posted 07-22-2016 03:00 PM

Yeah, stay away from the big box stores with their poplar/hardwood. It ends up being 2-3x the cost of what it would be at a hardwood dealer.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View weathersfuori's profile

weathersfuori

31 posts in 596 days


#8 posted 07-22-2016 03:07 PM

JBrow- wow, thanks for all that detail! I hadn’t really thought about buying 5/4 stock and resawing. I’ve tried resawing on my bandsaw and have had mixed results, but this is using the stock blade and fence on my Grizzly. I’m not sure I’m really set up for doing this for this particular project but it is definitely a good idea to consider. Or, it is a good excuse to upgrade my equipment!

-- Weathersfuori, Texas, www.facebook.com/f5creations

View jmartel's profile

jmartel

6576 posts in 1616 days


#9 posted 07-22-2016 03:10 PM

You gotta be careful with stock selection if you are resawing, though. I resawed some 5/4 poplar for the drawers in my nightstand build and they cupped very badly. I ended up having to trash half of it. It would have been better to buy 1/2” poplar from the supplier all ready to go.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View weathersfuori's profile

weathersfuori

31 posts in 596 days


#10 posted 07-22-2016 03:19 PM

jmartel- That’s one thing I’ve successfully avoided (hardwoods at big box stores) without mistake… but I’ve often wondered if buying select pine at a store 2 minutes from the house was more cost effective than buying say poplar at a lumber yard an hour away. You guys have convinced me it is worth the drive.

Now if only someone would open up a lumber yard out here on the far west side of Houston!

-- Weathersfuori, Texas, www.facebook.com/f5creations

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