Repairing a Water-Damaged MDF Baseboard

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Things You'll Need

  • 80-grit sandpaper

  • Resin glue

  • Brush

  • Wood filler

  • Putty knife

  • 100-grit sandpaper

  • Sealant

  • Paint

MDF is glued and pressed sawdust. It will not tolerate water.
Image Credit: Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images

When baseboard made of medium-density fiberboard sustains water damage, your best solution is to replace it. However, if the damage is not significant, you can attempt repair. MDF in its undefiled manufactured state is stable and consistent. When it gets wet, it swells and distorts. Swells can be sanded down if the MDF hasn't crumbled or separated to any extent. If the baseboard is profiled -- dips, curves or lines -- replicate the profile using ordinary hand tools.

Step 1

Sand the baseboard thoroughly with 80-grit sandpaper attached to a hand block. Remove all the paint if damage runs the length of the baseboard. If the damage is integrated in small areas, sand only the area needed.

Step 2

Slide the sandpaper along the length of the damaged area to remove high spots. Change sandpaper as needed when it fails to remove material.

Step 3

Mix powdered resin glue with water according to the instructions printed on the manufacturer's package. Fill small separations and cracks with the resin glue using a brush. Allow the glue to dry overnight.

Step 4

Fill any remaining pits, gouges or seams where the resin glue shrank. Use wood filler and a putty knife. Sand the molding smooth using 100-grit sandpaper when the putty is dry.

Step 5

Fold a piece of 100-grit sandpaper into thirds. Use it like a knife to replicate lines in the molding. Slide the edge of the sandpaper along existing lines to form new lines. Wrap the sandpaper around dowels to sand shallow curves.

Step 6

Apply a base coat of sealant to the sanded areas with a brush. Apply two coats of water-resistant paint to match existing paint.

Tip

Use chemical strippers to remove paint if you wish. Place drop cloths on the floor. Apply the stripper and allow it to work on the finish. Scrape the paint off using small flat-bladed tools such as putty knives. Use caution when working with strippers; they're caustic. Wear gloves, breathing and eye protection. If your baseboard continues to get wet or is an area with high moisture, replace it with plastic or vinyl molding. This type of molding isn't affected by moisture.

Warning

MDF contains formaldehyde and produces a fine, powdery dust when sanded. Wear breathing and eye protection when working with MDF.

references & resources

Wade Shaddy

Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.