A Comprehensive Guide for Painting MDF Boards

MDF is a low-cost engineered wood product made of a mixture of resin and sawdust that is been heated and compressed under extreme pressure.

MDF is usually used for residential and commercial applications like customized trim work and cabinets because it does not possess the knots, loops or grain like solid wood and is therefore relatively easy to cut.

Guide for Painting MDF Boards

Can You Paint MDF Boards?

Medium-density fibreboard has a very smooth surface due to the tiny fibres that make up the material, making it an ideal surface for painting. MDF boards can handle paint and veneers rather well.

Like all of material, MDF has its own set of rules for painting. Understanding these guidelines and the finest methods for priming and painting this kind of material will give you the best chance of achieving professional results.

Tools Used for MDF’s Painting Procedure:

  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Sealant
  • Eye protection goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Hand gloves
  • Solvent-based primers
  • Sandpaper (120 to 220 grit)
  • Sanding pads
  • Tack cloth
  • Radiator roller

Best Paints for MDF Boards:

You can use both oil-based and water-based paints for painting the surface of MDF. But oil-based paints are preferred for painting MDF boards as they offer high durability. Water-based paints are recommended for small DIY projects while oil-based paints can be used for large residential and commercial purposes. Oil-based paints are also compatible with solvent-based primers. Other alternatives which can be used to paint MDF boards are acrylic paints and latex paints.


You cannot directly paint the surface of MDF; it requires some prep-up. Thus, the process of painting MDF boards is divided into 3 major parts:

  1. Sanding
  2. Priming
  3. Painting

Let us check the procedures one by one.

  1. Sanding:
  2. MDF can be painted easily, however, to maintain the edges smooth you must sand the MDF board in between each step.

    • The edges of the MDF board are more porous compared to the surface hence the first step is to seal them to make them smooth and accept the paint properly.
    • Apply a joint compound or a drywall compound you can apply sealers like joint compound, drywall compound, acrylic paint sealer, PVA wood glue, etc. to the edges of MDF and let it dry.
    • When the compound is completely dried, sand the edges with the help of 220 grit sandpaper to make them smooth and even.
    • After sanding the edges, lightly sand the other surface of the MDF board with fine 120 grit sandpaper.
    • Wipe away the excess dirt from the MDF’s surface using a clean cloth. For removing the excess dirt from sanding, you can use a vacuum to suck up the dirt.
  3. Priming:
  4. A beautiful finish can be achieved by using an MDF primer since it prevents the MDF from absorbing the paint. It is not required to prime MDF before painting if you have already painted and sealed it, instead, you can start painting right away with the first coat.

    • Apply a thin coat of solvent-based primer to your MDF surface with the help of a paintbrush, a roller, or a spray gun by focusing especially on the edges and the corners.
    • The MDF paint primer should be applied in two to three coats. For best results, make sure to sand in between applications and let each coat completely dry. Remember that, a stronger and better finish will result from numerous thin priming applications as opposed to one thick layer or several thick ones.
    • Sand the MDF after priming using gentle pressure with the help of fine-grit sandpaper. Clean the surface and you will get a silky and smooth surface.
  5. Painting:
  6. MDF has to be carefully cleaned and coated with the best paint due to its specific composition.

    • For painting the MDF surface, use an oil-based paint as it is perfectly compatible with the solvent-based primer. If required, you can thin it with a non-water-based solvent like paint thinner.
    • The second layer of paint should be applied once the base coat has completely dried to the touch. Before applying a further coat, you must make sure the previous one has completely dried. If not, it can take the multiple coats longer than usual to dry entirely.
    • The last and final step is to provide a finishing touch to your painted MDF surface. Once your paint is dried, apply a hard-wearing coat of sealer to make the MDF board water and scratch resistant and to save it from discolouring eventually. The finishes like polyurethane finish, varnish, shellac, or lacquer will make the MDF durable and easy to maintain. Let it dry and enjoy your smooth finished MDF surface.


In this blog, we have seen a step-by-step guide to painting the MDF board as a DIY project. We can conclude that MDF is not at all difficult to paint if proper methods and techniques are used. Furthermore, while performing the whole procedure, always remember to wear protective glasses, a mask, and hand gloves to protect yourself from MDF dust.

VIR MDF is a well-known name when it comes to manufacturing superior quality Medium density fibreboards for your all-around usage.