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Old 09-30-2007, 05:50 AM   #1
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Questions about attaching MDF trim


I'm adding some trim to my kitchen cabinet doors and since it was cheaper and the size I wanted, I ended up with primed MDF. I've never used MDF before so I have 3 questions.

1) do I need to pre-drill like I do with real wood? The trim is 2.75" and 1" about 3/8" thick and I don't own a nail gun.
2) the store sold me MDF screws but since I am glueing can't I just use some finishing nails?
3) since the MDF is primed (although the 1" stuff isn't on the back) and my cupboards are painted, will yellow wood glue work or should I be using something else? (part B, what would 'something else' be?)

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Old 09-30-2007, 09:15 AM   #2
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Questions about attaching MDF trim


Yellow glue won't hold very well, but you don't need it to hold much.

MDF trim is nice for painted work, because it is very smooth, but it can tend to protrude around nail holes, IME. So for your purpose, I think the ideal would be to avoid nailing at all.

Is this just small trim being applied to doors, etc? Is it a very flat trim being applied to a clean flat painted surface?

I think you might have good luck with contact cement. Mask off the area on the door so a strip just an 1/8" narrower than the trim is exposed. Apply contact cement to the back of the trim and to the door area where the trim will go. Allow the contact cement to set for a few minutes, until tacky. Remove the tape, and press on the trim.

The alternative is to nail, but then you'll need to fill the holes, and without a pin nailer, you're going to blemish the trim somewhat, and I'm not sure you'll be able to completely cover that. You can use joint compound for nail holes if you need to.

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Old 09-30-2007, 10:03 AM   #3
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Questions about attaching MDF trim


Yes they are flat painted doors and the trim is 2.75" X 3.8" for the outside edge and then a 1" piece for dividing the middle. Sort of shaker but divided to imitate my windows.

Oh boy, isn't contact cement unforgiving? I have no fallback if it is and I make a mistake. Is there a type that has a bit of give for a minute or so in case I do mess up? If I could do it without nails or screws that would be nice. I do have a lot of clamps around so clamping wouldn't be an issue.
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Old 09-30-2007, 12:11 PM   #4
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Questions about attaching MDF trim


This is what I do when using Contact cement. I first scuff up the painted surface so I get a good bond then I mask off ( as mentioned above") then I apply the Contact Cement to both surfaces and let sit till the wet look as turned to a mat finish ( note you should be able to lay a piece of newspaper on it without it sticking).Then I cut some small pieces of thin cardboard and lay them on the door and then put my piece of trim on and match up the edges then slowly remove the cardboard one piece at a time keeping enough pressure so the trim does not move and presto. Do a couple of test pieces and you will see how easy this actually is.
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Old 09-30-2007, 02:37 PM   #5
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Questions about attaching MDF trim


Contact cement is fairly forgiving, in that you can remove pieces after applying, but you can't adjust them after putting them down once, so line them up right (using strips of wood, dowels, cardboard, etc. to hold it up, as Daryl described), and then put it down right. If you messed it up, you can peel it up, and start over, but you can't slide it over a 1/8" of an inch.
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Old 09-30-2007, 07:33 PM   #6
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Questions about attaching MDF trim


Okay, I guess I could manage that. Does 'start over' mean the first layer of cement has to be cleaned off?
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Old 10-01-2007, 08:56 AM   #7
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Questions about attaching MDF trim


No. You can put a thin coat of cement on top of a surface that is just a touch too dry (starting to get less tacky), and it will remoisten the glue.
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Old 10-01-2007, 10:11 AM   #8
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Questions about attaching MDF trim


Oh good. Thanks for the help.

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