History of MDF
MDF Skirting Boards
When producing MDF skirting boards, there are several methods of production they go through for machining, finishing and profiling. The MDF has a compressed and smooth surface making the skirting easy to paint and finish afterwards giving a long life to your skirting boards. We produce some skirting boards from MDF in bulk using a high-tech moulder which produces hundreds of metres of mdf skirting every minute, in a given profile. The machine will then prime, sand, and reprime the mdf skirting boards so that it is finished with a semi-finished surface which at most will require a final coat of paint. Our other method for producing mdf skirting allows us to produce a much fuller range of skirting boards from MDF, as we produce our own cutting tools for profiling the skirting, and then put them through a specially equipped spindle moulder to create the mould we are making. The priming for these boards is usually hand-sprayed and will therefore require a light sanding before a final coat is applied. This has the added bonus of protecting the mdf skirting from moisture until the sanding and final coat are applied for finishing and fixing the skirting boards to the wall.
MDF Skirting Boards have been used for many, many years due to their durable nature. You will find MDF used for skirting in a large number of houses around the UK and indeed around the world. MDF is an environmentally friendly material because it does not depend upon single strips of wood, and can be easily manipulated into various forms and structures for construction. You will also see MDF being used for window boards to match the skirting boards and architrave. You may also find skirting blocks are made from MDF as their nature lends very well to mitre the skirting boards against the skirting blocks.
MDF Skirting Profiles
Historically the range of mdf skirting profiles has been very limited to what was easily available during the period in question. For this reason some of the profiles have been termed ‘period skirting’ and will most likely have been made with mdf. Other skirting profiles include wartime mdf skirting, Victorian mdf skirting and Edwardian mdf skirting. When we are reproducing our mdf skirting boards we explore the historical variety through the ages of construction, but also we include a full range of modern skirting boards for comparison purposes. For example we have sent mdf skirting boards for use in a full range of locations including childrens’ homes, casinos, restaurants, housing estates and luxury apartments.
Our most popular mdf profiles are not what one might expect – despite the education of the buying public. The choices available are initially created by observing what skirting is currently being used, or currently available. However our mdf skirting has taken on a new measure by adapting these profiles and creating new designs around traditional skirting styles. We have therefore produced a range of our own skirting boards that noone else has the legal right to use. Upon request, we can send you samples of our mdf skirting boards in the form of a small 50mm x 100mm piece so that you can compare the mdf profiles of each and decide on the best design for your skirting boards.
Lengths of MDF skirting boards
It is not so commonly known what lengths mdf skirting boards are available in. In fact, the limits on our mdf skirting boards are made only due to the machinery that are used to create and mould the skirting as described earlier. We can produce 2.4 or 3m skirting boards in any profile required, even if that profile has been newly created by the customer. This is because when we create a new tool as can be seen on our skirting boards video page on youtube, we then fit the spindle moulder with the cutting tool and produce the skirting boards out of pre-cut strips of MDF at whatever height is required by the order. This also allows for flexibility of the height of the skirting boards.
When a customer requires a highly economical batch of skirting boards, not only do we also recommend MDF to be used for this skirting, but also we are able to do the full order on one of our bulk production runs for the skirting on a high speed moulder. This has many advantages such as;
- Longer lengths – 5.4m lengths MDF rather than 2.4 / 3m
- Higher quality finish as the process includes a mid-way sanding and recoat of primer bringing the finish to an almost finished quality
- Economical production runs – as you can imagine this process makes the whole manufacturing process for MDF skirting much quicker, cheaper and overall, more economically and environmentally friendly
Therefore when a customer requires a large construction to be fitted out with skirting boards, we recommend that 5.4m long lengths of mdf skirting boards are used.
Fitting mdf skirting boards
There are many different ways one may choose to fix and mitre skirting boards. For example some builders or carpenters prefer the old fashioned method of using nails / screws to screw the skirting boards to the wall at 2m spacing so that they are firmly fixed. Others may prefer that there are no screw/nail holes in the wood and want a perfectly smooth finish. In this case you may use adhesive designed for mdf and wood which is excellent for use on skirting boards. Either way, you will be required to mitre your skirting boards if you want to complete long lengths without a noticeable join, an in the corners, have a smooth meeting point between the skirting boards. There are mitre tools available for skirting boards so that you can produce an excellent 45 degree angle between the boards and they will come together in a perfectly neat fashion.
Mitering awkward profiles
You may think that when you have a very elaborate skirting profile that it will be difficult to mitre. However, our profiling is so accurate that even if you have a very fancy designed skirting board, and have a perfect 45 degree mitre, the mdf boards will come together perfectly and each parallel of the boards will line up perfectly to produce a very professional and attractive finish.
Oak Veneered MDF
One of the most common ways of veneering MDF boards and making your mdf skirting look even better is to use an oak veneered processes. It is now possible to use a real, thin slice of oak to wrap around the mdf board, and therefore produce a board that looks very much like oak from a distance, and can even be lacquered and finished in any way you choose! Our oak veneered mdf skirting boards are available in 4.4m lengths so it is also a very good middle point between short and long lengths, and is also very economical indeed. We have carried out surveys among customers to choose between two boards to determine which one is the oak skirting board, and which one is mdf skirting veneered with oak. Unless the customer actually gets close enough to touch and properly inspect the mdf skirting, they are unable to decide which one is the real thing. Once lacquered, this process is even more difficult because the lacquer gives the MDF – in – disguise such a fantastic finish that your friends will be easily fooled into believing that you have just installed expensive oak skirting boards, all under the guise of mdf skirting.
Mdf skirting boards are in fact large versions of architrave. People often think that the two are mutually exclusive, however we have had customers use what we would consider as 4inch skirting as their architrave because they have a large house with high ceilings and therefore large architrave and large skirting are a must have requirement for this to look right. The most common requests for mdf skirting would be 4 inch (100mm) skirting, 5 inch (125mm) skirting, 6 inch (150mm) skirting and in some cases as high as 9 inch (225mm)skirting or even 12 inch (300mm) skirting. These are cases that we can cope with equally because all of our skirting is produced according to our customer needs. We have decided that the customers requirement is at the front of our skirting production methods and therefore each skirting board can be customized from mdf in any fashion required.
MDF Skirting Depth / Thickness
MDF is of course available in various thicknesses, or depth as some have come to refer. The most common thickness for mdf used today, and in fact the thickness that we used for our skirting boards will be 18mm. We do frequently however have requests, and fulfill those requests for mdf skirting to be made from 25mm mdf, or 15mm mdf for example. Both of which are still great for producing mdf skirting boards and architrave.
Why are there different thicknesses for MDF ? This is a very good question, and is one answered by retrospect rather than design. Today, MDF is being made from various thicknesses because in some cases the thickness is required for strength or durability. However initially MDF and therefore MDF skirting were made from different thicknesses because it was a design feature to distinguish between MDF skirting and MDF architrave. Generally, the MDF architrave would be 25mm thick and the mdf skirting would be 18mm thick. However these days this is not so common, and instead builders are often using skirting blocks instead of different thicknesses of MDF in order to distinguish the difference between the MDF Architrave and MDF Skirting – this also makes it easier for lining them up because there is obviously a difference in direction of the two MDF boards coming together.
MDF Skirting Boards
MDF Skirting Boards are the best value choice if you are going to paint your skirting boards white. A hardwood skirting board will be more durable than MDF, but hardwoods become expensive very quickly.
MDF is made up of compressed fibres, it’s a man made material that is cheap and durable. MDF Skirting Boards can be moulded with any profile you’d like, but its worth knowing that furring may occur. Furring comes as a result of the way MDF skirting boards are manufacturer, or specifically the way MDF is formed. You see, the front and back surfaces of the MDF boards are harder than the centre. When you cut into the centre of the boards the fibres are longer and don’t cut as cleanly.
But don’t let a little bit of furring put you off MDF Skirting Boards – A quick rub down with some sand paper easily solves the problem.
Affixing MDF Skirting Boards
When it comes to mounting MDF Skirting boards you’ve got a few options – The quickest and easiest is with some glue in a tube. A few dots of glue along regular intervals will easily hold your MDF skirting boards onto the wall for the foreseeable future. If you’d prefer to attach the mdf skirting boards more solidly, combine the glue with screws. Please note you can only screw MDF skirting boards front to back, and on an un-profiled section of the skirting. It also helps to pre-drill the holes.
If you don’t follow the above guidelines for mounting MDF Skirting Boards, they will split and crack. In some senses MDF is a difficult material to work with, so its important you MDF skirting boards are mounted by somebody that knows how to deal with the material, but don’t let this deter you. Simply gluing the MDF skirting boards onto the wall is more than sufficient.
Nails aren’t a good idea – you may as well just take a chisel to your mdf skirting boards, as it will split and crack any and everywhere. If you pre-drill a hole the exact width of the nails with the intention of nailing into a wall you may get away with it, but for the sake of buying a few screws we don’t think you should risk it.
Water and MDF Skirting Boards
Water is another thing to try and avoid. This sounds like common sense because water will damage any board you are trying to mount onto your wall. In most cases MDF skirting boards are less prone to damage by water because they only swell up, rather than bend and warp like hardwoods. Once your hardwood is bent, you will be hard pressed to rectify the problem. MDF will simply dry out, it may remain slightly deformed but shouldn’t be noticeable.
Don’t bend your MDF skirting boards if you can help it. We’ve seen 5.4m MDF Skirting boards jammed into a 4 metre long van, and you can guess the outcome. We absolutely do not condone the bending of MDF skirting boards, and we take utmost care when selecting carriers to ensure they don’t bend your MDF skirting boards. They can actually take a fair bit of abuse, but once they start to crack you’ve lost them.
MDF Skirting Board Lengths
MDF Skirting Boards generally come in three different lengths. In common profiles you can easily get 5.4 metre long mdf skirting boards, and in bespoke or less popular designs they come in a longer 3m length, and a slightly shorted 2.4m length. Which length to choose depends heavily on who you are, what you’re trying to do, and where. If you are a skilled or professional carpenter you might find it easier to work with longer lengths as they require little or no joining, but smaller lengths are easier to manage. Also in tight spaces it will be difficult to manoeuvre and store 5.4m lengths of mdf skirting boards. If you are using your mdf skirting boards as architrave, then you’ll prefer the 2.4 metre lengths to minimise cutting and wastage. We actually sell architrave sets in mdf, which essentially means we provide you with a length of mdf architrave for each side of the doorway, as well as one for the top of the door way. One set of mdf architrave will complete only one face of the doorway.
MDF skirting boards come in a few different qualities – basically the harder the mdf, and the finer the fibrous material, the higher the quality. It seems reasonable and obvious that harder MDF is preferable, especially when your using it to make what turn out to be essentially kick boards, but the granularity of the fibres is less intuitive.
The reason smaller fibres in mdf makes for better skirting boards is because the mdf is moulded to shape a profile. As mentioned above when you cut into MDF you often aren’t able to just cut through the individual fibres and instead you split them apart from one another, so this produces a furring on the moulded surfaces. This furring is much more profound with lower quality MDF.
Primed MDF Skirting Boards
Another option to consider when buying MDF skirting boards is if you want primed mdf skirting boards, or un-primed. Be aware that the result of a single primer coat (which is what we sell as standard) will still need to be sanded and re-primed before painting. You can order a second layer of priming for your MDF skirting boards for an extra charge, in which case we will sand them and add the second coat of primer for you. The first coat of primer will always soak into the surface of the MDF, especially where the skirting boards have been moulded and profiled.
MDF Skirting Board Profiles
As we’ve spoken about MDF skirting board profiles many times, we’d like to exhibit some of the most popular MDF skirting board profiles as well as the more modern and unique profiles.
The single most popular in the UK is the torus mdf skirting boards – Torus seems to appear in 90% of English homes. But the fashion is shifting away from this stock standard option towards something more unique. Torus is quite a chunky rounded profile which is very simple, but gives your walls a little bit of character. One of the other most popular options is bullnose mdf skirting boards, which are also known as pencil round. As the name suggests these just feature a rounded edge with no other detail. They are easy to keep clean and don’t attract any attention.
Two of the other popular mouldings are ovolo mdf skirting boards, and ogee mdf skirting boards. They are very different in style from one another, one being more elaborate than torus skirting, and the other leaning towards the practicality of bullnose skirting with a little bit more character.
Ogee skirting has a more delicate patterning than the big chunky round torus skirting, and gives a more Victorian classic look. Ovolo is very simple profile which is easy to clean, with a smooth sloped surface and only a couple of small ridges which may collect a tiny amount of dust, but with the way Ovolo skirting is shaped you can easily run a dust cloth or mop along the wall and quickly brush any dust off.
From left to right: Torus, Bullnose, Ogee, Ovolo
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