How to Paint MDF Boards

Stacked MDF boards
  • 2-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 30-70
What You'll Need
Heavy- and fine-grit sandpaper
Sander (optional)
Safety gear
Paintbrush or paint roller
Clean cloth
Adequate ventilation in the work area

MDF board, or medium-density fiberboard, is made from hardwood and softwood fibers that are mixed with various resins. This board is denser, heavier, and less expensive than plywood or other hardwood, so it’s perfect for making furniture or using for molding. Although MDF is easy to work with, it’s difficult to paint because it has a porous exterior. But, with a bit of primer and by following the steps found below, you can paint your MDF with ease.

Step 1 - Sand the Surface

Before painting, you must sand the MDF board’s surface. Remove dust and debris from the board, and then sand it with rough-grit sandpaper. You may use a sander or a simple piece of sandpaper. Wipe the surface with a clean cloth, and finish it using fine-grit sandpaper on the surface.

Warning: When sanding, always wear a protective mask and goggles to make sure you don’t inhale the wood dust or get any dust in your eyes.

Step 2 - Clean the Surface

With a damp cloth, wipe the MDF board. Make sure you remove all dust particles and let the board dry before proceeding.

Step 3 - Apply Primer

Although priming isn’t always a necessity before painting wood, MDF must be primed because the surface of this type of material is highly absorbent. The primer will saturate the MDF fibers, making the painting surface more durable and adhesive. You can purchase pre-primed MDF boards, but they are more expensive.

Choose from an oil- or acrylic-based primer, depending on your chosen paint type, and then apply one coat of primer with a paintbrush. Use a paint roller, instead, if the surface is large.

Step 4 - Sand the MDF and Apply Second Coat

After the primer is dry, sand the board with 220-grit sandpaper. Then, apply a second coat of primer and let dry.

Step 5 - Apply Paint and Sand

Apply a thin coat of paint to your board with a paintbrush. Allow the board to dry, and then sand it lightly. Then, apply a second coat of paint. Allow it to dry before touching, or before using the MDF board for another project.

Step 6 - Clean Your Brushes

To keep your brushes clean for next use, clean them and let them dry. If you used oil-based paint, use a solvent to clean the paintbrushes. If you used water-based paint, you can clean the brushes with soap and water.