MDF Fiber Board, How to ID & Protect?

rob allen

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When cleaning tile and grout how do you determine it’s MDF fiber board and what’s best way to protect it while cleaning the tile and grout? We have yet to come across it in Va but a cleaner sent me this last night. Looks to me like it’s ruined. Am I right?

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rob allen

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Is there an easy way to identify?
 

rob allen

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sunrisecarpet951

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When cleaning tile and grout how do you determine it’s MDF fiber board and what’s best way to protect it while cleaning the tile and grout? We have yet to come across it in Va but a cleaner sent me this last night. Looks to me like it’s ruined. Am I right?

9ca59d2bc662e8a0ff9536e26db8c09e.jpg


c21f731177cda26a1b0d1ad63007a71f.jpg


ab169c586688e4b29cc3ec0fc92b61d3.jpg

I have always noticed GM will soften fresh paint on baseboards if over sprayed. I tape off now if I know it’s a fresh coat of paint
 
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zigdog

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I'm surprised that its taken so long for the problem to reach you, Rob. Out here is California that junk is just about all we have now. The problem with MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard), is that it absorbs water like a sponge and expands considerably and permanently when it does. Sometimes if the damage is not too bad it can be sanded flat and repainted but trust me you want to avoid that at all costs. An ounce of prevention, etc. etc.

We have found that if the base board is installed and painted before the tile is laid, the paint seals the MDF off from the moisture and we can just clean as normal (fingers crossed). We haven't had a problem yet (knock on wood). I can imagine a scenario where the grout has cracked away from the base and moisture works its way to the bottom and it gets absorbed from underneath creating the same problem. It hasn't happened to us yet though.

Now if the base has been installed on top of the tile it's a whole different story. The water from cleaning can and will get between the baseboard and the tile and get soaked up into the MDF and the damage is done. Sometimes the baseboard has been primed by the maker top, bottom and sides, and that will keep moisture from getting up in there hopefully. We've also seen circumstances where there is caulking between the baseboard and tile that creates a seal to keep the water from being absorbed by the MDF, but around here both these scenarios are the exception and not the rule.

Now what we do on all of our tile and grout cleaning jobs is to place rolled up old towels or sheets or tarps meticulously along the baseboard. We can then spray our cleaner and use our spinner right up to the towels (lighter by the edges) and any stray moisture is absorbed by them. We then pull up the towels and move them to the next section, and then as Mike said above, use minimal moisture to clean the remaining couple of inches by hand which is usually pretty easy since edges tend to be the cleanest areas anyway.

My problem with taping the baseboards is that it does not prevent the water, (especially on the cleaning cycle under pressure), from getting under the base. Same result. And then when you pull the tape off, even blue tape, the paint comes with it a lot of times. That makes for very unhappy customers no matter how much you try to blame the painter for it.

There is always that inevitable time when water gets by you. Just be quick to get your suction hose over and vacuum up the water as thoroughly as possible before it can do any damage. With all the above precautions taken, we have not had one issue. Believe me I know it sounds like a pain in the butt, and it kind of is, but one ruined piece of baseboard will spoil your day or week. So for us the extra few minutes are worth it especially with employees.
 

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Treat all base the same. Keep from pooling against it. By all means check it prior. You dont know if they slop mop daily or weekly and have already started a problem. It will retain water for a long time unlike wood. Mdf is what it is. Thats whats replacing wood. I wont even buy wood anymore. Its so f'd up and twisted. Its become completely useless. If its getting stained then that's obviously different. Mdf does come preprimed. But it is by no means sealed. Its more like white wash. Water penetrates right through it. Latex paint also is what it is water based. It will break down in water. Combined with solvents and heat recipe for disaster. Pay attention to cabinets too. These are similar material including kick boards. Nothing but laminated particle board.
 

rob allen

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These are not my pics but a member on FB. We do mostly only upscale homes and never came across it. But I know its just a matter of time