How to Prep & Paint MDF
Whether you’ve built your own furniture from scratch or want to repaint existing pieces to refresh your home – getting an even finish can be tricky, especially if the surface is naturally porous. However, it is possible to create a fantastic finish and get the best results every time.
In this video, our brand ambassador Craig Phillips demonstrates how to prep MDF shelves before painting them. This material has a smooth finish on the surface, but the cut edges are still very porous. We also know MDF is one of the most common types of wood used in furniture making. However, it’s pretty tricky to update the look of it by painting directly onto the surface.
Thankfully, with some handy tips and Frenchic Finishing Coat, you can easily refresh any porous surfaces such as MDF.
What You'll need
Sanding & Preparing the MDF
While our Finishing Coat is typically applied after furniture is painted, it’s applied first for this project, especially along the cut edges.
If you have any screws like those shown in the MDF shelving. These need to be filled and sanded to get an even surface. Craig uses 150-grade sandpaper to get a smooth result.
Next, give the wood a sand all over, including the edges – and don’t forget to wear a dust mask! Once complete, use a damp cloth to remove the excess dust and ensure the area is dust-free and dry.
Take your Frenchic Finishing Coat and pour it into a small plastic container. Then, using a paintbrush, apply it to the cut edges of the MDF. When applied, it has a white or milky consistency but don’t worry, it dries transparent.
When you’ve covered the edges, take a small roller and cover any filler, such as the screw holes. Using a roller makes this process quicker than brushing it on. Try not to douse your roller completely in the finishing coat. Instead, gently rub it through, as Craig demonstrates in the video. A good tip is to cover the whole surface with a coat of Finishing Coat to minimise porosity.
When it’s completely covered, leave to dry overnight. You may find that once it’s dry, the edges still feel a little rough. If so, use fine-grade sandpaper such as 200-grit and gently sand the surface to get a smooth finish. Next, apply a second coat of Finishing Coat and allow to dry.
Because MDF is very porous, applying several coats can still leave a patchy finish, particularly on the edges. However, once it’s sealed using Frenchic Finishing Coat, you’re ready to paint your furniture.
A great pairing for this project is our Frenchic Original Artisan paint (Craig uses Ivory Tower). All our paints are suitable for MDF wood, plus other materials such as laminate and metal without needing to prime them.
To get great results, apply the paint to the cut edges using a small paintbrush, our Small Oval is perfect!. Next, on the outside larger surfaces, and inside areas, use a small roller. Then, feather the inside edges with a large paintbrush.
To speed up the painting process, our Frenchic paintbrushes are designed with an oval shape to make application easier and quicker. Plus, they’re great for awkward edges.
You also might get a mottled effect when using the roller on larger surfaces. If this happens, run the large brush over the top to feather it in and flatten it down as you go.
Once your first coat is complete, leave it to dry for two hours. Then take sandpaper such as 120-grit and gently sand the surfaces, including the edges. If you spot any paint drips or build-up on the edges, remove these using rougher sandpaper such as P60 grade. Finally, don’t forget to wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove the dust and prepare it for the next coat.
Apply your second coat using the same technique and brushes as before. If you’re using the Original Artisan Range, apply a sealer when it’s dry, such as Finishing Coat, Tuff Top Coat or a Frenchic Wax.
Voila, it’s complete. You just need to find the perfect spot in your home for your new creation.
How to get the best results
With most painting projects, the key to getting a fantastic paint finish is prepping the surface well. With Frenchic Finishing Coat, you can achieve great results even on porous surfaces such as MDF.
So, if you have some old furniture, that could do with an update – or you’re creating bespoke pieces for your living space – achieving the best results has never been easier.