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Old 12-28-2009, 11:18 PM   #1
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MDF in Bathroom?


Disclaimer: Please forgive me if I don't use the proper terms. If you correct me, I will be grateful. Also, if my pics are too large or I have broken any rules, please let me know and I will fix it as soon as I can.

I am remodeling a bathroom and want to put beadboard up around the bottom half-ish part of the wall.

I really want to use a wider (see below) bead board, but while the narrow ones (also below) are made from real wood (usually poplar), I can only find the wider ones in MDF. Is there a way to prep or seal MDF so that can use it in my bathroom? The shower will have a glass door, so I don't expect the wainscoting to be sprayed with water, but I like steamy showers. It will be painted, of course, but I am also worried about the edges and the back that goes up against the wall. The other, horizontal parts, are going to be wood.

Also, has anyone had MDF in their bathroom for awhile? How is it holding up?

(Google SketchUp Mockups)





The narrow ones vary from 1 1/4 - 1 5/8 inches from bead to bead, and come as two space/beads to a tongue and grooved wooded section.




The wider ones are 2 3/8 inches between each bead and also seem to come as two space/beads per MDF (not tongue/groove) section.


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Old 12-29-2009, 09:45 AM   #2
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MDF in Bathroom?


I wouldn't put MDF in my bathroom in any application for any reason. I have some in my camper, and the least bit of water makes it swell up.

If someone else was determined to use MDF in a wet location, I'd suggest priming (with oil) and painting every surface prior to installation, and caulking every nail hole (exposed or not).

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Old 12-29-2009, 10:19 AM   #3
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MDF in Bathroom?


Never use MDF in a bathroom.
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Old 12-29-2009, 03:09 PM   #4
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MDF in Bathroom?


Most packaging on any type of beadboard, wood or MDF, states it is NOT for use in wet areas such as baths. A powder room maybe....
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Old 12-29-2009, 03:29 PM   #5
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MDF in Bathroom?


Builders of new houses always slap in MDF in the bathrooms around here as its easier and a consistent look around the house. The only real thing you have to watch out for is any sort of floods or wet towels left on on the floor. The baseboards will absorb the water and swell. Other than that, never had much of an issue.

As for normal operation of a bathroom with moisture, not an issue that I've seen. The challenge is to keep direct contact of water and the MDF surface away.
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Old 12-29-2009, 10:16 PM   #6
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MDF in Bathroom?


BM, (sorry I couldn't resist)
Lowe's or HD carries a beadboard similar to what you pictured in a solid vinyl type material. It is waterproof, easy to install, and actually looks pretty good. They also sell a base molding and chair rail to go with it that has a rabeted edge to accept the beadboard.
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Old 12-29-2009, 11:26 PM   #7
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MDF in Bathroom?


This is why I am so frustrated and my project has been held up for months and months.

The vinyl beadboard I have seen at Lowes and HD is of the narrow-spacing kind and the definition of the beads is very shallow (though I will go tomorrow to see if they have something new.

The wooden beadboard I can get my hands on seems to be all exactly the same. I collected samples from several real lumber yards recommended by local builders. All 5 samples had the narrow-spacing of two different widths! (the first space was 1 1/4 inches between the beads and the second was 1 5/8 inches)

I have searched online all over the place for wood, PVC, and polyurethane versions of the wider-spaced beadboard

The only wide ones I can find are MDF! *pulls out hair*

It looks like I am going to have to have a knife cut and then have the beadboard custom made. It isn't that I don't want to support real woodworkers, but it could be more expensive than I can afford to do so.

firehawkmph, is your picture of the vinyl from HD? The name of the pic says: mdf-bathroom-img_3262 and it looks like the wider-spacing I am looking for.
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Old 12-30-2009, 07:54 AM   #8
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if you decide to use the MDF... Seal the edges with several coats of oil based sealer and a few coats of poly. Seal the back, joints and cuts also. I use MDF but I spray with a vinyl acrylic that we use to produce Melamine. This makes all edges smooth and sealed and is extremely waterproof. Caulk all joints with a silicone caulking. Leave no place for water to enter.
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:58 AM   #9
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MDF in Bathroom?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bantymom View Post
This is why I am so frustrated and my project has been held up for months and months.
I'm trying to understand why it matters so much.

For $200 you can buy a router and a table and cut the beads on unbeaded T&G pine. For $15 a sheet you can buy GP beaded ply, but it has the narrow "boards." I think the reason that you primarily see the narrower widths is because they're trying to give the appearance of the old-style beaded boards, which were all narrow (or at least every instance I've seen was narrow, but watch and someone will have wider in their house ).

It's probably just me, but to me the wide pattern in the photo looks like someone had the right idea and just got it wrong.
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Old 12-30-2009, 05:07 PM   #10
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MDF in Bathroom?


I don't think that the OP plans to put this MDF in a "wet" area of the bathroom - not in the shower, but outside. I used Plywood grooved siding as wainscoting in my bathroom and have not had a problem. I did paint the back of the wood as well as the front. If this is not exposed to water and the vent (exhaust) fan is used, I don't think there would be a problem. The problems I have seen with MDF siding are in wet climates (Washington State) where it is exposed and not properly sealed (painted on both sides and the ends and sides).
Just my $.02

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Old 12-30-2009, 06:49 PM   #11
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MDF in Bathroom?


Quote:
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I don't think that the OP plans to put this MDF in a "wet" area of the bathroom - not in the shower, but outside. I used Plywood grooved siding as wainscoting in my bathroom and have not had a problem.
There's no place in my bathroom that doesn't get some water on it now and then. MDF doesn't like water in any quantity (including water based primers or dribbles of condensation).

Your plywood siding can go up on the outside of a building. MDF isn't siding.
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Old 12-30-2009, 07:18 PM   #12
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MDF in Bathroom?


They put MDF baseboard in my house when it was built, including in the bathroom. I agree with the majority here who say its a bad idea. I could post pictures of my bathroom baseboard, but its not a pretty sight. Its a bathroom. It will get wet.

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Old 12-30-2009, 07:39 PM   #13
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MDF in Bathroom?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bantymom View Post
firehawkmph, is your picture of the vinyl from HD? The name of the pic says: mdf-bathroom-img_3262 and it looks like the wider-spacing I am looking for.
Banty,
I think it came from Lowes. It is the vinyl material. It was easy to cut, easy to work with. I used a little bit of liquid nails on the back and a brad tacker to fasten it.
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Old 01-19-2010, 06:29 PM   #14
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MDF in Bathroom?


To the OP, I was wondering what you decided to do.

I am just running into the exact same problem you did, after spending too long to finally decide on beadboard, now I'm having trouble finding something suitable for my kid's/guest bathroom.
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Old 01-19-2010, 06:49 PM   #15
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MDF in Bathroom?


If money not a problem take to small custom millwork shop, you'll get the lengths you want made from wood you want in size you want the money you save on hair plugs will pay for it

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