The old time craftmens way to install wood baseboard molding was to run
the first piece right to the inside corner and the cope the next piece
around the corner to the profile to fit against the first piece. These
days it seems that much of the molding currently available is MDF
material with a pre-primed white surface. Is coping to inside corners
still the method for installation? I question this because it seems like
the MDF material could just crumble away as one tries to cut the profile
with the coping saw.
MDF is more stable than solid wood and doesn't shrink with time, which
is the one of the primary reasons that solid wood baseboards were
I never heard of pre-primed - is that where they put on primer before
putting on primer? ;)
Not really, if you're practiced at coping ... the problem many have is
trying to spring the mdf in, IME, that's when it breaks.
Coping/mitering inside corners is a religious endeavor, some do, some don't.
I prefer coping, but have a hard time getting the young trim guys to do it.
If you're good at coping, mdf is no problem, probably faster, cleaner
and better looking, AND, if you're really good enough to be charging for
your skills, your painter doesn't need to be a trim carpenter too.
Basically, if you have to caulk it, you need to plan on coming back
every five to ten years and make it look like what you were paid to do
in the first place ... whole lot easier to do the job right in the first
Ditto, ditto, and ........maybe. For my own personal efforts, I
certainly agree with you. But for the "trim carpenters" of today, I
rarely see them carry a coping saw out to the job, and incredibly, I
have run into some that have NEVER used one. I have slapped so many
pieces of trim to cut a 45 degree slice to reveal the profile I don't
ever think about it. A coping saw is a must.
If today's "trim carpenters" had the same training I had, you did, and
many here have as well they would realize it is actually **easier** to
cope corners than to miter them. Coping helps disguise badly taped
and floated corners, out of square corners, and helps with poorly
adjusted miter saws. And unless the house is affected by fierce
movement or water damage, I have never seen one of my coped joints
(base or crown) come apart.
BTW, I have seen that awful blue monstrosity that you clamp onto a
piece of trim to try to reverse a back cut for a coped corner. What a
monstrosity.... and it takes a MORE skill to use than as opposed to
hand cutting with a coping saw.
Personally, I like the MDF baseboards (don't like much else MDF trim)
as it comes out in long lengths, is completely uniform, paints great,
wears like hell and holds finish great.
Nowadays, they just butt and caulk any gap under an inch.
Avoid the herd mentality: Real craftspersons buy real _wood_ moulding!
Normites might use these:
Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Those are also my findings. MDF also provides better flexibility in fitting
the slightly odd, crooked floor problems in addition to that. Plastc molding
is even better for matching out of square areas.
Up untl a few years ago I always fgured coping the corners was too much
work but after trying it a few times, I think it's the only way to go now.
Not hard to do, slight misses are often invisible when you over/under cut
the angle, depending on whether in/out side corners or long-runs. Those also
help allow for un-square corners. Caulking is seldom needed this way too. I
managed, with trial and error, to come up with templates for such cuts.
I also paint to the final coat before installing them; amaznig how many
little "mistakes" that willl make invisible unless you look real close.
Using a brad nailer there is usually no touch-up required.
Thanks for all the responses. In the past I've always used wood
baseboards and coped in the way I was taught by my carpenter dad many
many years ago. Here now some 9 or 10 years since I've done any base
molding work I'm finding that MDF, plastic and some types of particle
board molding are the standard fare at the big box home centers.
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