There are quite a few types of wood used to make baseboards from in the United States. Each of these woods has its advantages and disadvantages even if many wooden baseboards look the same to the uniformed observer.
Traditionally, the baseboards in American homes have been made from hardwoods like cherry, maple, oak, mahogany and cedar. These woods are called hardwoods because they are stronger than softer woods. Hardwoods are generally made from poplar trees (trees with leaves).
The strength of baseboards gives them an advantage because they are less likely to be damaged and will last longer. The painted and varnished baseboards found in older homes are often made from hardwoods. The reason hardwood baseboards were often used in older homes was to keep rodents like mice from chewing through the base of the wall and entering the room. Hardwood baseboards are often easier to stain than softwood or MDF baseboards
The big drawback to hardwoods is that they are often much more expensive than softer woods and alternatives such as MBF. Softwoods such as pine are usually cheaper but they don’t last as long and are more likely to get damaged.
In many cases, hardwood baseboards in older homes will be replaced with cheaper woods like pine during renovation. If they are painted or varnished properly softwood baseboards can be indistinguishable from hardwoods to the average person.
Medium Density Fiberboard
Medium Density Fiberboard or MDF is an excellent and cheaper alternative to hardwood baseboards. Although it is often sold as hardwood,MDF is not really wood or hardwood.
Instead fiberboard is created by gluing wood fibers left over in the cutting and processing of wood into a board under heat and pressure. This means that fiberboard is actually an artificial product made from wood.
A quality piece of fiberboard is often indistinguishable from wood if it is painted or varnished to look like wood. Top of the line MDF will serve as an excellent substitute for hardwood baseboards.
Cheaper fiberboards may not last as long because they can be poorly constructed. A person should always take care to get a good grade of MDF when using it for baseboards.
Price of Wooden Baseboard
The big advantage to MDF is its price, MDF baseboards can be found for sale online for as little as 65 cents a foot. This is less than half the price of poplar hardwood baseboard which sells for about $2 a foot.
Hardwood baseboards will cost even more for example red cherry baseboard often sells at over $4 a foot. Red Oak on the other hand will sell for about $2.5 a foot which isn’t that much than poplar.
There is another material similar to wood that is used in baseboards: bamboo. Although it isn’t wood, bamboo looks like wood and can be used as a wood substitute. The interesting thing is that bamboo is one of the priciest baseboard materials around. It usually costs $4-$6 a foot to order bamboo baseboards on line.
Ordering Wooden Baseboards Online
A person can save money by ordering wooden baseboards online. These will usually come in eight foot strips the cost of which will be determined by the size and materials.
It is best to order wooden baseboards several weeks in advice online because they are often made to order.
Image Credit Flickr; by wwarby