Hi Ken,

I am a newbie DIYer and want to do a board and batten molding project in my dining room.

I’ve looked around a lot on the web and seen lots of great projects. I really appreciate your tutorials. You give great perspective on the projects and great instructions and details.

I was reading WAINSCOTING-100, and because you talk about the different flat stocks that you’ve used here and in other tutorials, I thought you might be able to help me. I am near the end of my rope!

The Problem

I am taking out baseboard and chair rail and starting from scratch. This is my quandary: I cannot find primed mdf boards (flat stock) that are 1/2 thick anywhere.

Apparently Lowes used to carry them but doesn’t anymore. I can easily find 11/16 thickness, but the problem with those are that the boards are a tiny bit thicker than the door frames/casings (not sure of the lingo).

I don’t want to buy the huge sheet of MDF and cut it to strips because I don’t have the right equipment. I’ve heard Lowes or HD will rip it for you, but I need a ton and don’t know if they will get the width exactly right and if it will be straight.

I can’t believe I’m the only one who has the problem with the door casings. I am so surprised that the 1/2 in thick primed boards are not available anywhere.

I guess I’m wondering:

(1) Does it matter if the horizontal boards (baseboard, and top rail and a lower one) are thicker than the door frame? Seems to me it will look odd.

(2) Do you know of anywhere that I can find primed mdf boards that are 1/2 thick?

(3) What are your thoughts on whether or not I should buy the big sheets and rely on the person and equipment at the store to cut the gazillion strips I’ll need for baseboard and two other boards that will go around the room?

I am so frustrated because I’ve researched this so much and can’t get past this stumbling block. I would be so grateful to hear your thoughts or any advice you may have.

Many thanks,

Ken’s Answer

finish trim joiner carpenter kenHi Shana,

1. Yes it does matter if the flat-stock of your wainscoting is thicker than your door frame. You don’t want your wainscoting to extend beyond the door trim.

2. I do not know of any company that sells pre-primed mdf in a thickness of 1/2″. That is why I cut my own from the large 4’X8′ boards.

3. Having Home Depot or Lowes do all of your cutting could get complicated. And yes, you do run the risk of them not cutting it as straight as you’d like. Read a bit more about having your MDF board cut at a home improvement store here.

You don’t need a lot of tools to create the moldings you see here on The Joy of Moldings, but you do need some. And a decent table saw is one of the most important tools you’ll need for installing moldings.

And finally, the problems you describe are the very reasons why I recommend replacing all of the moldings in the entire room — so you can control the entire design from start to finish. This post explains why in more detail, Decorate Your Home With Moldings, One Room at a Time.

Have you considered replacing the door trim?

Hope that helps. If you have further questions, feel free to ask. Good luck!

Ken O’Brien