It is a question of taste.
MDF gives a smoother more modern finish that might look best in a modern
apartment, whilst wood will give a warmer, more traditional look that could
be appropriate for a Victorian conversion.
Look at the profiles available in both, which may influence your choice;
also consider what finish you want - obviously MDF is a non-starter if you
want (eg) a varnished woodgrain finish; however if you're going to be
painting them, the skirtings and architraves normally come in pre-primed
MDF, which will save you a coat of paint throughout, which might sway you!
Christian's right -- it very much depends on which looks better, both
in your opinion and in your setting. I personally prefer wood if
there's any noticeable expanses of flat surface involved -- flat MDF
surfaces just look too damn smooth for my taste.
We re-did all the skirting boards and architraves in our sitting room a
couple of years ago with wood for the skirtings (and dado rails), but
we used MDF architraves (which of course don't have as much exposed
flat surface area), and they look OK.
Just completed 2 houses, one MDF & one pine (painted). Natural wood shrinks
after fitting so needs a second fill/decorate in about 6 months. Natural
wood has knots which need sealing. MDF is pre-primed but often needs a quick
sanding before undercoat. The job appears to be quicker with MDF because it
looks nearly finished, because its pre-primed. You need a really sharp plane
to flush two pieces of MDF! Natural wood smells better when cut?
For my next project I'll got the MDF route. Its more uniform to work with,
"feels" quicker. But, still needs 2 coats of primer/undercoat and two
topcoats. All you save is the knotting and a little bit of sanding. Not
really worth it unless you can get it for a good price.
I hate MDF, but always use it for skirting these days ;-)
real wood quickly takes on a cork screw appearance in a C/heated house
unless you are prepared to leave it in a barn to dry out properly for a few
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