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Old 02-05-2009, 06:03 PM   #1
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Installing baseboard trim on curved wall


I need to install baseboard trim on a curved wall. It will require a 7ft length. The curve forms about a half circle. The rest of the house is being outfitted with MDF 4-1/2 inch wide and 9/16thick. My questions:
Has anyone ever tried to work MDF into such a curve?
How would you go about doing it? Would cutting small kerfs in the back of the base work?
Should I use wood and try to find a matching profile and then cut kerfs in the back?
Should I use the various "flexible" trim products I see on the web?--I did find one (trimster.com) that has a base with the exact profile and size. ( I think they made that base to mirror the product I'm using). --It's awfully expensive --about $60 for the 7 ft piece.
Can anyone recommend a flexible trim company?
Any recommendations would be welcome!

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Old 02-05-2009, 06:45 PM   #2
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Installing baseboard trim on curved wall


How wide is the radius of the curve? Is it an inside curve or an outside curve? My experience working with MDF suggests that it won't take well to cutting kerfs and bending it, especially if it's an inside curve with a tight radius. I can imagine it creasing in front of one of the kerfs as you try to work it into the curve. It may work better on an outside curve, especially if the radius is wide, but I'd stick with a piece of something meant to be bent instead of using MDF. Wood trim would handle the curve with kerfs, too, if the radius is wide enough.

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Old 02-05-2009, 09:37 PM   #3
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Installing baseboard trim on curved wall


mdf is cheap so you can try wetting it with a spry bottle of water see if that gives you more flex
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Old 02-05-2009, 10:40 PM   #4
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Installing baseboard trim on curved wall


I would stay away from MDF for this application. Since it doesn't have long fibers oriented in the same direction, your chances of bending it are not really good.

My first suggestion is to build this the way they build curved handrails. They laminate thin 1/8" thick strips over a bending form (the wall in this case). The thin strips are easy to bend, and while the glue is still wet they're clamped to the form using lots of blocks and clamps. When the glue is dry you have a perfect profile of the wall's curve. Of course you'd have to rout the base profile after the glue is dry. A jointer or a hand plane is needed to flatten the top edge first. Not something for amateurs.

As a second option I'd suggest getting the trim in plain pine. Not primed, plain. You'll probably need to kerf the back of it as you said, which will ultimately require you to fill the visible tops of the kerfs. I'd kerf it to leave about 1/8" of material at the face side. See how that bends.

I'm betting you'll still need more flex...

I'd devise a way to soak the piece of trim in water. Perhaps a long piece of pipe or a stock tank would work for this. Soak it for an hour or so. Take it out, dry it off a little, and install it temporarily using blocks screwed to the wall and the floor to hold it to the shape of the wall. It will dry out slowly, and will shrink slightly as it dries. Give it two or three days to dry out before removing all the blocks and installing it. I guess you could nail it to the wall wet but I don't think I would.
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Old 02-06-2009, 04:29 AM   #5
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Installing baseboard trim on curved wall


you could also use AZTEK PVC 1x4 and use a router. or just spend the extra money on the flex trim, which is what I usually do. BOB
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Old 02-06-2009, 04:51 AM   #6
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Installing baseboard trim on curved wall


MDF has alot of flex to it already, have you tried it 'as is' yet? Also, I have found out the hard way that MDF bends all too easy when exposed to the humidity we have here in Florida (like say, if someone were to leave a piece leaning against the wall over the weekend in an unfunished house) So, using this, you might be able to get added curve by leaning it against the wall in the bath and letting the shower run on hot for awhile, or as previously suddested, wetting it slightly, then placing it between something like 3 paint cans(1 at each end of the radius, and 1 in the center) to force the bend while it dries back out. It will be easier if you use a full length piece.
Let us know how you finally resolve your issue for future ref.
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Old 02-06-2009, 06:50 AM   #7
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Installing baseboard trim on curved wall


PVC trim or flex trim is the best way to go if it is to be painted. If you need a natural finish you can laminate tight curves or kerf cut (cut the back side) normal trim.
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Old 02-06-2009, 07:41 AM   #8
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Installing baseboard trim on curved wall


PVC is a pretty darn good idea.
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Old 02-06-2009, 08:25 AM   #9
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Installing baseboard trim on curved wall


pvc also softens nicely with a little heat

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