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I am planning to make my layout, which is currently built on top of three Ikea bookshelves, permanent by buying two wood sheets to move the layout onto, nail track down etc. As the boards will be supported by the bookshelves underneath at all points can I get away with using 9mm moisture resistant MDF as opposed to Birch ply (I’m a cheapscate) or could it still be prone to warping? The layout is in my bedroom which can get hot in the summer but it never leaves.

 

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Edited by bart2day

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MDF doesn't warp as such but even moisture resistant MDF can swell over time. My personal opinion is it's a false economy in the long run.

 

How do the prices compare where you are? I'm obviously a long way away but I checked my nearest supplier and the price of MR-MDF and CD grade structural plywood were actually about the same, and AA grade marine ply was only about 12% more. The difference in price for a 2400 x 1200 mm sheet was roughly the price of a cup of coffee. I personally tend to use BB grade exterior ply which is priced in between the two, although I generally use 19mm to make a box frame and 6mm for the top.

 

Cheers

David

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MDF has so much against it that it is a false economy.

It is a horrible material to cut or drill. The dust is rather nasty and can actually kill you.

It needs a lot of support, otherwise it sags.

It can take very little weight and certainly is not strong enough to stand on.

I found it was worse from a noise perspective.

It does not even burn very well when you scrap the layout.

Bernard

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I had to scrap my old layout due to the MDF sagging and warping. I had so many problems with MDF baseboards. It is better to just go for plywood first time round. Superior material and not much price difference between the two. 

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The best piece of graffiti I ever saw was round the back of Leamington Spa station.

 

It simply said "Avoid Cider".

 

It could just have easily said "Avoid MDF".

 

 

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2 hours ago, wirey33 said:

The best piece of graffiti I ever saw was round the back of Leamington Spa station.

 

It simply said "Avoid Cider".

 

It could just have easily said "Avoid MDF".

 

 

 

Well I'd certainly prefer to avoid MDF for stuff like baseboards.

 

It sometimes seems to find favour in small "lasered" kits - OO "scale" houses - some basic rolling stock kits in slightly larger scales - stuff like that. To be honest, I've been wondering if it might be fun for me to get something like that lasered for my own use (if for no reason other than that I haven't noticed lots of firms offering to "laser" Palfoam).

 

However, I definitely wouldn't want MDF for something like a baseboard, basically for the reasons people here have outlined.

 

As for avoiding cider, I suspect that a number of people on this site would take issue with that idea.

 

 

Huw.

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Don’t skimp on the baseboards - it’s your foundation.

 

and if you buy from usual DIY outlets check each price carefully - a lot is like a banana !

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Thanks for all your replies. Looks like Plywood is the best option then. I would be buying it pre cut. I found a company that sells 9mm Birch Plywood cut to size at £31 per square metre. Is that a good material/price?

 

F0C36DAF-8D2A-4EB4-856F-9B8CB7CFB517.jpeg.1ba5163bebeea1675e7ed6652bde036d.jpeg

Edited by bart2day

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Sounds expensive but I didn't buy mine pre cut.  That's more like the price for a whole 2440 x 1220mm sheet.  Hopefully, someone else will be able to advise on cutting costs.  Mind you, if you're only after a single sheet cut into two or three pieces, the price is less significant than if you are ordering several sheets.

 

A couple of suggested suppliers:

http://www.johnsonstimber.co.uk/sheet-materials/birch-plywood/2440x1220x9mm-birch-plywood-bb-grade

https://www.lathamtimber.co.uk/products/panels/plywood/birch-plywood/birch-plywood-specifications

 

You'd have to phone for prices I'm afraid.

 

Do you have a local independent timber merchant?  They would be able to order some in and cut it for you.

 

You could always take a tape measure, pencil and saw to the timber merchants and cut it in the car park. :jester:

(I can neither confirm nor deny that I may or may not have done this on the past.)

 

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Always go for ply. 9mm is good but will want bracing and framing.

B&Q hard wood ply is actually quite good and is much less than  the price you saw. And b&q will cut it for you for free.

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I used 12mm ply from B&Q.

Pretty good, sturdy stuff.

 

Next one will probably go down to the 9mm though.

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15 minutes ago, Sir TophamHatt said:

I used 12mm ply from B&Q.

Pretty good, sturdy stuff.

 

Next one will probably go down to the 9mm though.

So B&Q is not always

 

Bad

 

Quality

 

then

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Beware of Far Eastern Plywood. I bought this from a timber merchant, it was flat as a pancake when I selected it. This was it the next day...

Far Eastern Shitwood..jpg

It has since been converted to ash.

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I’d be tempted to try wickes, 1/3 cheaper than BQ on most stuff it appears 

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I bit the bullet and used 9mm birch ply with lots of 2x1 bracing, probably too much but better that than too little and have to start again in a year or 3 when 100s of hours have been spent sticking stuff on top of it.

 

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In my opinion the only way to go for a guaranteed warp free baseboard is to use genuine Baltic/Russian birch ply. It can sometimes be difficult to get hold of but I got the last lot I had from a firm in Falmouth called Woodshop Direct. They cut and delivered it to North Shropshire for me and for a total layout size of 30 ft x 3ft 6in made up of six boards with 12mm framing 4in deep, 9mm internal bracing 4in deep and 9mm tops the total cost was £425. You can find them online.

 

Dave

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8 hours ago, rob D2 said:

I’d be tempted to try wickes, 1/3 cheaper than BQ on most stuff it appears 

Wickes is more likely to deliver than B&Q also.

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I have seen something called "Shuttering" Plywood Sheet, which seems cheaper than other types. For example an 8 X 4 foot, 12mm sheet being £14.29.

Can this be used for baseboards?

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If the layout isn’t being left in areas where there’s significant variations in humidity MDF works perfectly well as the trackbed. My current layout uses birch ply for the chassis and MDF for the trackbed, previous three layouts used cured pine for the chassis with MDF trackbed.

 

480CC28C-4A92-42D7-A017-905CEE42B759.jpeg

6FE212CB-9758-4D7D-8580-92BE31E6E6E0.jpeg

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1 hour ago, Graham1960 said:

I have seen something called "Shuttering" Plywood Sheet, which seems cheaper than other types. For example an 8 X 4 foot, 12mm sheet being £14.29.

Can this be used for baseboards?

 

As the name suggests Shuttering ply is meant to be used once for forming concrete shuttering. It is not stable enough for our purposes as it is made up of low grade coarse veneers with lots of holes in.

 

Birch Ply is the best option, all others are pretenders to the throne.

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1 hour ago, Graham1960 said:

I have seen something called "Shuttering" Plywood Sheet, which seems cheaper than other types. For example an 8 X 4 foot, 12mm sheet being £14.29.

Can this be used for baseboards?

Of course it can, the problem is how long it will stay in shape, I paid a bit more because I didnt want any warping taking place in the future ruining everything done afterwards, I am too old and moody for that to happen.

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18 hours ago, chris p bacon said:

 

As the name suggests Shuttering ply is meant to be used once for forming concrete shuttering. It is not stable enough for our purposes as it is made up of low grade coarse veneers with lots of holes in.

 

Birch Ply is the best option, all others are pretenders to the throne.

At £32 if you buy 50 sheets it doesn't sound that good!

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I think I would be tempted by this more:

18mm P5 Moisture Resistant Tongue & Groove Chipboard Flooring 2400mm x 600mm (8' x 2') Pack of 80

Works out at £774.06 Inc VAT - £9.67 Per Sheet!

It must be strong if people walk on it!

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2 hours ago, Graham1960 said:

At £32 if you buy 50 sheets it doesn't sound that good!

 

Quality costs, all the cheaper boards are cheaper for a reason, they really aren't any good for the job we want them for (baseboards)  

 

A comparison for 6mm Birch ply, the Birch cuts cleanly as it's made up of good quality veneers.   MDF has no strength, its dust is carcinogenic and it needs a lot of bracing for the equivalent size. Far eastern ply (even the hardwood one) isn't as stable as Birch and can delamnate at the edges.

 

2 hours ago, Graham1960 said:

I think I would be tempted by this more:

18mm P5 Moisture Resistant Tongue & Groove Chipboard Flooring 2400mm x 600mm (8' x 2') Pack of 80

Works out at £774.06 Inc VAT - £9.67 Per Sheet!

It must be strong if people walk on it!

 

A pack of 80 sheets is well over a ton in weight (something like 1400kg) it's 115 square metres of flooring which is enough for a 3 bedroom house.

 

It also has to be one of the most unsuitable boards for a baseboard. It has no strength as 18mm needs a substantial 2" brace at 450mm maximum centres, it is also designed to be a fully bonded floor so all the T & G edges are glued giving a floor which is one single sheet. For baseboard joints it ideally needs to be machine cut as hand cutting creates a ragged edge.

 

Without putting a downer on this you really do get what you pay for, if you use good quality materials first time for the baseboard structure you don't have to worry about revisiting at a later date. Dave Shakespeare of 'Tetley Mills' fame found out the hard way that using cheap plywood for his boards came back to haunt him when they showed signs of woodworm and started to move, he ended up taking all his hard work off and starting again.

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For cheap warp free base you could always break tradition and use extruded (not expanded) polystyrene.   I am experimenting with this just now.  A ply frame around the outside avoids damage but at €3.20 for a 1200 x 600 sheet this is very cheap compared with a wood base.   

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