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How To Paint MDF

If you’re like me, MDF brings back memories of musky woodwork classrooms at school. Despite this, MDF is a great material with a ton of applications. Created from tiny particles of softwood that have been fused together with wax and resin, MDF is inexpensive, versatile, and best of all really easy to paint and customise.

Alright, so if you don’t know a lot about DIY, the process of painting MDF may seem a little daunting. But fear not, whether you’re working on a cupboard, bookcase or electric fireplace, the process is pretty straightforward. For a basic overview, simply check out my simple guide below!

Step 1: Seal The Edges

One of the major problems with painting MDF is that it can be an extremely porous material – particularly around the edges. To stop the edges absorbing your paint, be sure to buy a drywall compound from your local DIY shop, and apply it across the edges. When you’re done, sand off lightly when dry to get rid of any bumps or ridges.

Step 2: Clean and Sand

Once you’re done sanding the edges, you should now move onto sanding the face. Make sure you evenly sand the entirety of the surface using 220-grit sand paper. You should sand lightly, but firmly – remember you don’t need to take too much off, but you’ll want to remove any blemishes that may be present.

Once finished, use a clean, damp cloth to remove any dust and other dirt, so you are left with a clean surface.

Step 3: Prime the Surface

Now it’s time to prepare the surface so that it can be painted on. As mentioned before, MDF is very porous, so first you’ll need to apply a primer to prepare the wood for the paint. If your furniture does not already have a primer coat, be sure to use an oil-based product for the best effect.

To apply, pour the primer into your paint tray, and use a roller to apply to the MDF surface. Make sure to apply evenly, allowing the edges to overlap whilst applying even pressure. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see how long to wait before you move onto the next step.

Step 4: Annnnd Paint!

As for the paint itself, as long you applied your primer, water based paint should be fine (or emulsion if you want your furniture white). Use either a roller or foam brush, and apply in even strokes across the furniture. If the colour is not quite dense enough, wait three to five hours for the paint to dry, and then apply a second coating. For grills, lattices and fretwork, it’s usually best to use spray paint, as this prevents build up in small, fiddly areas.

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