How can I make these MDF baseboards look better?

Sandy Ochoa
by Sandy Ochoa

We moved in this house with terrible baseboards!! Who thought MDF baseboards are a good idea!!? Can’t afford to change them. Anything I can do?

  18 answers
  • The paint drips can be fixed by carefully using a razor blade to remove them, sanding, and repainting. It looks like the bottom may have sustained some water damage. The recommended fix is replacement, since that's not an option, try sanding it as smooth as you can and repaint.

  • Mogie Mogie on Dec 26, 2021

    Step 1

    Place the edge of a putty knife against the trim or baseboard where the drip occurred. Hold the putty knife at about a 45-degree angle to keep the flat of the blade from scraping away the paint.

    Step 2

    Scrape against the trim or baseboard with the knife edge to pop off the paint drips. Take care not to gouge the trim or baseboard with the corner of the knife as you work. Work from the top down when removing the paint from trim pieces.

    Step 3

    Switch to a utility knife to scrape the paint from corners or other difficult-to-reach areas.

    Step 4

    Lightly sand the trim to remove any remaining traces of the paint, using 220-grit sandpaper.

    Step 5

    Wipe the trim with a cloth dampened with denatured alcohol to remove any residue of paint. Wait about five minutes for the alcohol to evaporate.

    Step 6

    Touch up any scratches in the paint from the removal process, using the paintbrush and matching wall paint. Touch up any marks on the trim with a stain marker. Give the paint and stain 72 hours drying time before touching the surface.

  • I would clean them, sand them down and repaint

  • Janice Janice on Dec 26, 2021

    Hi Sandy! Betsy got it right and with a bit of humor too! Sanding the baseboards to get rid of paint drips and then caulking some of the cracks, etc. will make a good surface to repaint the baseboards to look brand new. If sanding in the areas where there is water damage creates a problem, the area can be filled in with a wood filler, sanded to match the adjacent area and painted. A lot of work but well work it in the long haul if you are planning to stay in the house for quite a while. Also, you could use a good enamel paint to keep the baseboard from chpping too easily.

  • William William on Dec 26, 2021

    Water caused the swelling along the bottom. You should be able to sand that smooth. Tape the flooring to protect it when sanding. If the swelling is too extreme for sanding then you can a razor blade scraper or a sharpened putty knife and cut the area out. Fill with wood putty, sand smooth, and prime. The paint drips can be sanded smooth.

  • Dee Dee on Dec 26, 2021

    To refinish your wood baseboards, start by cleaning off the baseboard. Next, use a 120-grit sandpaper to clear away the old finish, and then switch to 220-grit sandpaper to create a smooth surface. Clear all the dust away, and then secure any loose nails. Use wood putty to fill any dents or nail holes.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Dec 26, 2021

    Cut out th bad, fill with wood putty, then paint with RustOleum enamel trim paint until you can replace them.

  • Annie Annie on Dec 26, 2021

    Mask out the floor and wall and give them a coat of paint

  • Seth Seth on Dec 27, 2021

    I'm going to be the lone dissenter who says replace them and get the look/material you want if you are going to put that much effort into fixing them. Do one room at a time as you have time and money.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Dec 27, 2021

    Sand them back to smooth timber and start again . Repair damaged areas, Sand Prime, Undercoat and give 2 x topcoat.

  • Jeremy Hoffpauir Jeremy Hoffpauir on Dec 28, 2021

    You can hand sand them and repaint them.

  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Dec 28, 2021

    I had ceiling molding that had been painted. Bought a dark brown paint and added copper metalic dust to it. Looks great. Maybe you could repaint.

  • B hill B hill on Dec 29, 2021

    Strip old paint sand and repaint color match old paint at home depot the protect floor you only want to scrap sand damaged area might need wood filler for repair not a quick job

  • Maura White Maura White on Dec 29, 2021

    That looks like it needs a lot of sanding to get rid of paint drips and water damaged section at bottom. Then a new coat of paint.

  • Annie Annie on Dec 30, 2021

    Perhaps look online for recycled building materials. You might get lucky

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Dec 31, 2021

    Sanding is the only one way and painting it with waterproof paint. Avoid touching it as you wash floor so it will not swell up

  • Looks like it will be quite a bit of hand-cleaning-up between scraping, sanding, and patching. Honestly, you'll have to weigh the time, effort, and expense against the cost of new. It might be worth suffering through it and saving as much as you can here and there to get a new, fresh start.

  • Mogie Mogie on Nov 10, 2022

    Sand them and repaint them but be patient and do many light coats to avoid drips which makes any paint job look tacky.