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How to Paint MDF

This post is part of Plyco’s Guide to MDF.

One of MDF’s greatest strengths is that it’s ideal for painting. This opens up a lot of new possibilities, especially if you want to use MDF to harness its strength, but need to up its aesthetic qualities. Sometimes a timber veneer isn’t right for the particular look you’re going for, so it’s always handy to have the ability to pull out a brush and paint can in your back pocket. While you might eager and ready to jump right in and start slathering fresh paint everywhere, you might want to hit the breaks just a little before beginning. Getting a beautiful final coat can be a little tricky, so to help you out we’ve put together this guide to painting MDF.

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A blank MDF canvas.

The first thing you’re going to want to do to get it ready is sand the sheet. An orbital sander is ideal for this step of the process and will leave you with an exceptionally smooth face of MDF. Once you’ve removed all the dust and debris the next best step is to apply a coat of primer. This will help the paint stick correctly and will seal your board up before you put your artistic talents to work.


Once that’s all done it’s time to bust out the pain! You’re going to want to start off with an oil-based undercoat that is applied evenly across the entire sheet. Once it dries you can give it a light sand, this time with sandpaper, and then jump back in with a second undercoat. After the second coat dries and has once again been sanded, you’re now ready for the fun part. Jump in with whatever colour paint you want and start making your MDF look eye-catching. Apply the second coat and voila; you’ve got yourself a fabulous looking sheet of Medium Density Fibreboard!

MDF Bathroom Cabinets

The end result of painting MDF bathroom cabinets. Project by Maplevilles Cabinetry.

If you’re looking at grabbing some Moisture Resistant MDF and giving it a makeover, make sure you remember to seal the board first! A common misconception is that because something is rated as “moisture resistant” it’s fine to just place in the deep end already. This couldn’t be further from the truth and is the quickest way to see your MDF investment sink like the Titanic. An unsealed MDF board will still resist moisture and liquid, but after constant exposure, you’ll deal with warping, swelling, and de-lamination. If you seal everything up first you won’t run into this problem at all. The team of experts here generally suggest waiting a couple of weeks after sealing before grabbing out the paint. This gives your MDF panel a proper chance to fully seal and ensure that you will be protected for years to come. Once that period of time has passed there are no problems letting your inner Picasso flourish as you paint the MDF to your heart’s desire.



We hope this guide to painting MDF has been beneficial to you and helps you steer clear of some of the common pitfalls that people often neglect. If you need to purchase a new canvas to use with your painting, head over to our online store where you can buy MDF online and have it shipped to any location within Australia. Alternatively, you can browse some of our other helpful posts as part of Plyco’s Guide to MDF, including a guide to MDF applications, and answering whether laser cutting MDF is recommended.


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