can you paint mdf wood

Can You Paint MDF Wood?

Can you paint MDF wood? Many people have also asked this common question. The answer to this is a yes; however, you need to make the necessary preparation, such as sealing, before you begin to paint MDF wood. By painting Medium Density Fiberboard or MDF, you protect the material from moisture absorption, which often leads to damage. But as mentioned, you need to seal it first if you want to paint simply because the material is porous and can soak up most of the product.

Though MDF is hard and strong, this can be shaped into panels, curves, and angles. This feature makes MDF an excellent material for home furniture such as kitchen cupboards and cabinets, to name a few. However, MDF can absorb moisture quickly, so expect it to splinter, crack and swell. If these scenarios happen, the form and shape will change permanently. 

You don’t need to be in despair, though; we’re here to help you on how to paint MDF like a pro. Remember that MDF isn’t a friend of water-based products and damp air; you’ll be able to paint, prime, and seal MDF to look modern, professional, and neat. 

Steps to Seal MDF Before Painting 

Image source

Do you know how to seal Medium Density Fiberboard before painting? Sealing MDF is a vital part of working with this kind of material. If you paint MDF, you protect it from absorbing excessive moisture and avoid damages. But you need to seal MDF if you plan to paint it. 

We do not recommend painting without sealing MDF. This process starts with sanding the fiberboard. The next step is to seal MDF edges with PVA glue or edging tape and seal the surface with the use of enamel primer. 

There are several ways to seal MDF and safeguard this from humidity threats and moisture. The steps to follow and materials needed are highlighted below: 


  • Sealer 
  • Face mask
  • An overall or long-sleeved clothing 
  • Gloves 
  • Safety goggles 
  • Sanding pad or sandpaper 
  • Putty knife 
  • Paint roller 
  • Synthetic-bristled paintbrushes
  • Plastic sheet or drop cloth

If you seal MDF meticulously, it will define its service life. To prevent water damage and moisture, you might want to make the workbench top completely waterproof. 

MDF Sealing Steps to Follow: 

Step 1-Prepare Yourself 

Although most products used to seal MDF are safe to smell and touch, it would still be best to be extra careful. You’ll be handling products with several chemical compositions, and some types can pose harm to the skin. We, therefore, suggest that you take all the needed safety precautions and considerations before you start. 

Work in a sheltered place outside your home, workshop, or garage or any place with proper ventilation.  Regardless of where you work or carry out the task, make sure to cover the floor as well as the nearby objects with plastic sheeting or drop cloth. The cover tends to protect the floor and objects from paint spills, sealing agents and sanding dust. Wear long-sleeved clothing and proper working gloves. You may also need to wear a safety mask and eye protection depending on which sealer you use. 

Step 2-Scuff Sand the Top of the Workbench 

You’ll need a workbench that’s neither too smooth nor too rough if you want the perfect sealing results before painting. You will achieve such results if you sand correctly. You can use medium-grit sandpaper or 220-grit sandpaper for better control. Sand in circular movements; this will keep the pressure evenly distributed on the edges and the entire surface. At this phase, make sure to wear safety mask and eye protection. You would not want wood dust to get into eyes and lungs. 

Step 3-Seal the MDF Edges 

Always begin at the edges when you work with MDF. The edges are commonly rougher and more porous as compared to the side. Thus, these can take more amount of paint and water. If unsealed, this results in severe damage. You must use that right sealing agent to harden and create an impenetrable coat on MDF edges before working on both sides. There are several methods and products to choose from. 

Can You Paint MDF Wood? Your Helpful Step by Step Guide to MDF Painting 

Image source

MDF is standard for home construction and furniture construction nowadays. This is an inexpensive engineered wood material with a composite of resins and sawdust combined in high pressure and heat. MDF usually comes in 4 by 8-inch sheets and boards ranging from ¼ to 1 inch thick for small projects. 

MDF is also widely utilized in different settings or environments. Frequently, this is used for home furniture, but this material is also being used in industrial industries. MDF owes its fame to its significantly more affordable price than the solid wooden boards. 

Unlike other wood products, MDF doesn’t have wood grain or knots, so they’re convenient and easy to cut. Thus, MDF is frequently used for carpentry and trim works. This material has a complex and smooth surface; therefore, it is accessible for veneering and painting its exterior. You’ll be surprised to know that your bathroom cupboards and most of your bedroom shelves are MDF. 

Since MDF is composed of real wood grain and free of rings and knots, it’s often used for upscale applications such as cabinetry and custom trims. What is more, its smooth and hard surface takes paint and veneer very well. 

Painting MDF needs a better understanding of the materials, but this comes from sanding factories with 150-grit smoothness. The face is ready to paint, but MDF edges are almost fuzzy and more porous and need a uniform and smooth finish. The materials needed for painting are: 

  • Drywall compound
  • Dust mask 
  • Drop cloths
  • Eye protection 
  • Tack cloth 
  • Sanding pads 
  • Paint 
  • Solvent-based primer

Step 1

If working on furniture, get rid of the hardware and set this aside until the paint has dried completely. With the use of a drop cloth, secure and protect your working area. This will make the work and cleanup easier. MDF tends to produce excessive dust and fine particles that can affect your lungs and irritate your eyes, so wear your dust mask and protective eyewear. 

Step 2

Whether the MDF has been customized or has a factory edge, MDF edges must be sealed to receive the paint that complements the materials’ smooth face. Run enough drywall compound to coat using your finger to close the edges. Suppose it has dried completely; sand the edges with 220-grit sandpaper. 

Fill scratches on the MDF’s face with drywall compound because any scratches or marks will be seen once painted. Sand the whole piece with the sandpaper and wipe everything down with a clean tack cloth. Make sure also to remove remaining debris or dirt, or fine dust. 

Step 3 

Prime MDF with quality solvent-based primer. Avoid water-based primers because this can trigger the wood fiber to swell. The swelling will also result in surfaces with raised grains regardless of your effort to sanding. Use a spray gun, roller, and brush during primer, whichever option is suitable for your project. 

Step 4 

You can also use your chosen paint on the primed MDF. Likewise, you can apply a finish and your selected applicator, be it a spray gun, roller, or brush. Cover the whole MDF with another layer of the right paint if you notice patchiness. As soon as the first paint coat dries, evaluate if your project still needs a second coat. 

Step 5

Let the paint completely dry, then put in your most preferred sealer, especially if your MDF wood project is expected to be used every day. This option can preserve the paint job. For instance, painted doors of cabinets can benefit from added layers of protection against wear and tear. 

Step 6 

After a color coat, the MDF is expected to look like the other painted woods. The truth is, DIYers can also make custom trims, furniture and wainscoting partially with MDF and with wood. The final output will seamlessly blend together as soon as the piece is painted. When the MDF wood has dried completely, replace the hardware you might have removed. 

Choosing the Best Paint for MDF Wood 

You are provided with many options when it comes to painting your MDF wood. This is where the fun begins. We suggest that you don’t settle for the first type of paint that comes your way. Take enough time to smartly shop around and look at the options available until you find the most suitable paint for MDF wood. Remember that you need to have the best paint before you start with your painting job. 

When painting MDF woods, such as on shelves, cabinets, and other pieces of furniture, avoid water-based paints as much as possible. Water shouldn’t be applied on the surface even after MDF sealing since the latter is naturally very absorbent.  

Oil-based paints are the best if you plan to paint your MDF since these are incredibly compatible with the solvent-based primer. Nevertheless, you will have to thin your paint as well with the correct paint thinner and, as mentioned, no water. 

If oil-based paint is used, always wear protective gear such as a mask and goggles as the paint produces strong fumes that can be risky for your health. We suggest that you pain MDF wood in an open-air environment. Acrylic paint dries faster, so using this can also be a viable option. 

You can use latex paint, but this must be considered carefully since this type of paint is water-based. A small area that isn’t sealed well can cause splintering. Latex paint is still famous due to its lower fume emissions and quick-drying time. 

The Bottom Line

Can you paint MDF wood? Yes, painting MDF wood is highly possible and, in fact, one of the best ways to guarantee that your MDF wood can withstand threats of humidity and moisture with preciseness. Ensure that you will follow the steps to paint the MDF woods provided above and choose the most suitable paint for this material. If necessary, you can seek help from experts if you want the most flawless MDF wood painting results. Though DIY route for MDF painting is acceptable, it would still be best to seek help and guidance from professionals who master this craft. 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *