MDF is an engineered wood material and stands for medium density fiber board.
Wood fibers, wax and resins are mixed together and brought into a mold to form the Crown Molding.
It is less sensitive to humidity changes than wood and easier to prep and paint.
MDF is the most affordable choice.
The cost is between $1-$5 per lineal foot depending on the size and design.
Solid Wood Crown Molding on the other hand, is typically made from pine, oak or poplar. It is best suited for staining and want to see the grain patterns of the wood. This is best suited for staining and high end finishes.
Finger Joint Wood Crown Molding is made from sections of wood that have been joined by finger joints. It is best suited when painted and a wood grain is desired.
The cost of the material itself ranges from $3-$8 per linear foot.
The installation cost of these three products range from $2-$6 per linear for most installations.
Less common choices for crown molding are made of various artificial materials like Polyurethane, Vinyl and synthetic high density faux wood grain.
The faux wood is mostly used to show a wooden texture which gives the crown a more rustic look.
Today the most unusual material is plaster, which is extremely durable and based on pouring plaster or concrete into molds. It can also be formed in place.
100 years ago this was the only material available and you can still find it in historic places.
Today it is only used in churches and high end homes since it costs between $20-$200, or possibly more, per linear foot.
You also need to consider there are additional charges once the Crown has been installed.
The finished installation will require prep and paint or stain to protect and complete the installation.