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How do I paint MDF correctly ?

Medium density fiberboard or MDF is quite easy to paint on, but you have to be extremely careful when doing so. MDF is made from the wood of larch and birch trees. Steaming the chippings of these trees make the material become fine wood fibers. Resins are used to bond these fibers together; the material is then pressed into boards with heat application to flatten and produce MDF.

MDF is a perfect wood to use for most interior home furnishings like cabinetry because it is more stable, cheaper and attractive than common hardwood. It is also flat and dense, and because it has no identifiable surface grain, it can easily be cut, filled, drilled, or machined. If you are planning to cut a medium-density fiber prior to painting it, make sure you always wear a mask or some kind of facial protection because the dust that contains resins and wood particles can be dangerous to your health should you inhale it. Small gaps or holes should be filled with wood filler and rough edges should be sanded before you begin painting.

MDF sometimes comes painted with primer, but if yours is not, then it is vital to apply prime paint to the surface before painting. You can use any type of water-based primers such as emulsion paint or a proprietary acrylic primer. This base-coat of primer will help give the top coat a more natural shade and will keep it from being affected by the color of the MDF. The primer will also keep MDF’s tendency to result in an uneven, blotchy finish because of its porous surface. Paint rollers and brushes work well if you are painting solid areas.

If you are painting intricate pieces, it is best to use spray paint instead of a roller or brush. This way, you can cover the surfaces without too much build-up of paint. Best results are often achieved by applying two coats of paint and sanding the wood with a fine grit in between coats. Any water-based, acrylic paint will be enough in painting a top coat of paint on the MDF. Also, remember that painting both sides of the MDF will help avoid bowing when the paint dries.

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3 Responses to “How do I paint MDF correctly ?”

  1. kelsso said :

    I have been working with m.d.f. for years know, I have made all sorts of things, from small shelves to bedroom furniture, . I find to get a good quality smooth finish project , is first in your prep work. Don’t be afraid to sand , you can’t sand to much if you are doing it wright. No matter what your building , cut all your pieces, dry fit them together( no glue / nails yet) then sand all pieces to clean up your material,( pencil marks,/ ect) now assemble your work. now sand everything again , even all the tight spots, ( note, i never use any sand paper lower then 100 grit at any time on m.d.f.) Now that you have sanded everything and all is fitting good, sand again with 200/220 grit paper. now you are ready for finishing. But make sure everything is dust free.. If painting .., two coats of primer .., sanding between coats , and i like to apply three coats of finish paint , sanding between coats , ( Note when sanding between coats do not use no less then 200 grit paper.) And i like to spray all of my projects , but don’t cheep out on a spray gun ( $90.00/ up , no cheeper IF YOU WANT A GOOD FINISH.) be proud of your work. If a job is worth doing , it’s worth doing right…Staining is a good way also but you got to know how to , in order to. and clear coating is also needed. ( Note , staining or painting you got to get your edges so your work piece is totally sealed.

  2. Kelsso said :

    I have also stained M.D.F. and when it is done right it looks like a million bucks. With a good clear coat or laquor applied. Thankyou: Kelsso

  3. Sandra McD said :

    I have just bought fitted wardrobes and I made a huge mistake when ordering the colour (it looked different in the brochure). They are made of MDF but I need to repaint them in a lighter colour. How do I do that?


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