The concept of an upcycled piece can be a rewarding and enjoyable project, which you see come to life as you make your mark with paint, possibly some stencils, or whatever tickles your fancy.

The practice of upcycling is still in its infancy; however, its popularity has been steadily on the rise as more and more people search for novel and interesting approaches to giving unused furniture and other items a second chance at life. Additionally, furniture made of MDF is an excellent option.

Due to the unattractive porous surface of MDF furniture, it may appear as though you do not have many options when it comes to painting the furniture. It is possible, however, to paint MDF, and there are a few steps that you can take to ensure that the paint will finish exactly how you want it to.

Before we get into how to paint your MDF furniture, let’s first discuss whether or not it is preferable to refinish the surface of the wood before you start or whether or not it is preferable to strip the surface of the wood before you start.

The Process of Stripping Your Current Surface

If you have determined that stripping and sanding the existing surface of your project will produce the best results, then the following advice may be helpful to you:

Sand your workpiece using sandpaper with an 80-grit rating, applying even pressure all over it, and following the grain pattern it has.
Repeat this step using paper with a grit of 100 until any scratches left over from the prior step have been removed.
After that, use sandpaper with a grit of 220 on both sides of the MDF you’re working on to provide an even smoother surface.

Even though it might seem like a lot of extra work, the finished product of your painting job will hold up better if you put in the extra effort.

Resurfacing Your Previously Used Surface

If you decide that stripping is too much work for you to put in, then refinishing the surface you already have should give you satisfactory results as an alternative. It is without a doubt the choice that presents the fewer obstacles! Before applying the first coat of finish, you have the option of using either a water- or oil-based primer.

After you have used soapy water to remove any dust that may be on your piece and have allowed it to dry completely overnight, you are ready to begin painting it.

Due to the porous surface of MDF furniture, the piece is likely to be very absorbent; therefore, applying three coats of finish will provide the best protection and appearance for the piece. After each coat has dried completely, which should take approximately 24 hours, sand back any rough areas with fine-grit sandpaper before moving on to the next coat. Continue doing this until all three coats have been applied and allowed to dry overnight.

Furniture refinishing using MDF

Refinishing dated MDF furniture by painting it can be a great way to breathe new life into old pieces of furniture. You can easily repaint MDF furniture to match any design style in your home with a little bit of elbow grease and the right supplies, and the cost of doing so will be much less than the cost of purchasing brand new pieces.

1. Sand down your MDF furniture to get things started. Sanding the surface of your furniture before applying a new coat of paint will make it easier for the paint to adhere, and it will also help remove any nicks or scratches that may be present on the surface. Sandpaper with a fine grit should be used so that the MDF is not damaged excessively.
2. After you have smoothed the surface of your furniture with sandpaper, it is time to begin painting! It is imperative that you use a primer that is oil-based and specifically designed for use on MDF. Sanding the surface beforehand will improve the paint’s ability to adhere and will prevent it from peeling or flaking in the future. After that, apply two coats of primer, waiting for each coat to dry thoroughly before moving on to the next step.
3. The next step, which is also the most enjoyable, is to select the color of paint you want to use. You have the option of selecting a wood stain that is more conventional or going for a color that is more adventurous. Just make sure to use a latex paint that is designed for use on trim work or cabinets. Put on two coats of paint, waiting for each one to completely dry before proceeding to the next one.
4. After the paint has had enough time to fully dry, you should consider applying a clear sealer or varnish to it so that it is protected from scuffs and scratches. Sealing is not required, but it will help your repainted MDF furniture last even longer. This step is optional. Wait until the sealer or varnish has fully dried before using your furniture again.

How to Paint MDF Furniture Using Paints That Are Based on Water

Because water-based paint does not require complete drying in between coats, you will have more time on your hands if you use it instead of oil-based paint. It is also safer for use in homes with children or pets that might knock over open cans. This is because children and pets tend to be more clumsy than adults. Additionally, water-based paints are simpler to clean up, which means that you will spend less time cleaning brushes and rollers after you have completed painting with them.

When applying the first two coats of water-based paint, the process is essentially the same as when using oil-based paint. Sand any rough areas with sandpaper with a fine grit, allow them to dry, and then apply the second coat of paint before the first one is completely dry. Then, after the second and third coats have both completely dried, apply your final coat (after 24 hours).

How to Spray Paint MDF Furniture with Various Types of Paints

Spray paint is the type of paint you should look for if you are interested in finding the quickest way to complete your project. Keep in mind, however, that if you do not invest in paint guns and compressor systems of high quality, it is highly unlikely that you will get outstanding results. In addition, because MDF has a porous surface, spray paint has a tendency to look uneven and blotchy unless the surface is carefully masked off before application.



Areas That Are Difficult to Paint

As was mentioned earlier, painting furniture made of MDF presents a challenge due to the fact that it quickly soaks up any excess paint that is applied. Make use of an old card as a shield right from the beginning of the game if you want to prevent your cards from running or pooling in certain areas.

Better yet, if you can bear to wait a couple of days until your project has completely dried out (oil-based paints take longer), then it might be easier to sand off any raised grain first with a fine-grit sandpaper. This can be done if you wait until your project has completely dried out. However, additional sanding will be required for any stains that remain, so this is not an ideal solution.

The steps to painting furniture made of MDF without sandpapering it first

It is not necessary to sand your MDF prior to applying primer and undercoat if you have already removed the previous finish or if you intend to apply a paint that is either water-based or oil-based directly on top of any stains that may already be present. Sanding isn’t necessary because primer adheres to wood more effectively than paint does, so you’re really just saving yourself some time by skipping that step.

If you intend to paint your newly prepared surface with water-based paints, you should apply two coats of primer first. – Three coats for oil-based paints, with an overnight wait between each application to ensure that it is completely dry before moving on.

Sand back rough areas using fine-grit sandpaper (220) in between coats, and once you are finished, wait for the previous coat to dry completely before applying the subsequent coat.

How to Use Stains When Painting Furniture Made of MDF

You also have the choice of using wood stains rather than paint; however, this approach will require significantly more time in order to achieve a consistent look throughout your project.

If you do not intend to cover the unfinished MDF with wallpaper or fabric, then it is not worthwhile to stain it because the stain will be visible through any layers that are applied on top of it otherwise. Staining unfinished MDF is generally not recommended.

If this is what you intend to do, the first step in preparing your piece is to check for any rough areas that require sanding with a grit of 220, and then you will either apply sealer (a clear varnish) or primer (a tinted varnish), depending on the type of stain that you select.

It is important to avoid applying any stains to a piece of dry MDF because the grain has a tendency to mark the surface rather than absorb the stain, which will result in a blotchy finish once it is applied. Instead, thoroughly dampen your piece with clean water, wipe it down, leave it overnight (or do both), and then follow this step by wiping it down once more to remove any excess moisture.

Apply the stain using a paintbrush, either directly from the bottle of wood stain or from the can of wood stain; for more detailed work, you can use an old toothbrush instead. Make sure that you apply it in a way that is thorough and even across the entirety of your project; if you miss any areas, you won’t be able to achieve a uniform appearance even if the rest of your project appears to be successful on its own. After you have completed the project, you must wait at least 24 hours for the stain to completely dry before applying the final coat of sealer or primer.

How to Use Varnish to Paint Furniture Made of MDF

Varnish will produce the best long-term results with MDF furniture out of all the painting options that are available; however, the process of varnishing is likely to be the most expensive and time-consuming option.

A word of caution: you should never use water-based (acrylic) varnishes on MDF because doing so has the potential to cause cracks and peeling in the future; gloss or semi-gloss oil-based varnishes are a much better choice. Before you apply two coats of primer, you need to make sure that any raised grain has been sanded down with 220 grit sandpaper first (3 coats if you plan on staining afterward).

Make sure that you dampen the surface using the method that was described earlier (either with water or a wipe down), as this will help to even out any variations in absorption before you apply the first coat of varnish. When you are finished, wait between four and eight hours before applying a second coat, just as you did with the primer. After that, wait another forty-eight hours for it to dry completely before using it.

If the piece of MDF furniture you are working on is too large to comfortably work on, you can break it down into smaller sections by removing the drawers, doors, and other components. Next, remove any loose paint flakes from the surface by vacuuming them up or rubbing them off with a wire brush. If necessary, you can also use an old toothbrush for this task.

Before you begin painting your MDF furniture a slightly different shade, such as gold onto black, you should first apply a base coat of the darker color. This is especially important if you plan to paint the darker color over the lighter color. All that is left for you to do now is follow the standard painting process that was outlined earlier by applying two coats of primer and allowing approximately 48 hours for each step in the process to dry completely.

spray painting methods for painting MDF surfaces

Before beginning this stage, make sure that you are working in an area with adequate ventilation and that you are wearing your protective mask and eyewear at all times. It is critical that you get this step right. Next, instead of applying one or two thick coats of spray paint, apply a number of thin layers of paint and allow between 10 and 15 minutes for each coat to dry in between applications. After you are finished, you should wait at least six hours, preferably overnight, before removing the tape or masking from your MDF furniture.

How to refinish furniture made of MDF

It’s possible for furniture made of MDF to get stained, chipped, or scratched over time. Refinishing MDF furniture and giving it a new lease on life is something that can be done, so there is no need to feel hopeless if you own pieces of MDF furniture that need to be updated. You can make your MDF furniture into something that you will be proud to show off in your home with a little bit of time and effort invested in the process. Refinishing MDF furniture is a fantastic way to give the rooms in your house a brand new look without having to spend a fortune on new pieces. The process is not overly complicated and calls for only a few supplies, all of which can be purchased at your neighborhood hardware store with little effort. You won’t need much time or effort to refinish your MDF furniture if you stick to these simple steps.

This is the procedure to follow:

Sanding the surface of the MDF furniture is the first step in the process of refinishing the furniture. Sanding will help remove any existing paint or stain and will also help create a smooth surface for the new finish. Sanding will help create a smooth surface for the new finish. Using sandpaper with a very fine grit, sand the surface in the same direction as the wood grain. After you have gone over the entire piece of furniture, use a damp cloth to remove any dust that you may have left behind.

Applying a new coat of stain will impart color to your furniture, which is now ready for use. To begin, apply a small amount of the stain to a test area to get an idea of how it will look once it has been fully covered. After you have selected the appropriate tone, use a brush or a cloth to apply the stain in an even layer across the surface. Use a clean cloth to remove any excess stain from the surface. Before moving on to the next step, make sure that the stain has had ample time to completely dry.

It is also a viable option for you to paint your MDF furniture instead of staining it, should you so choose. Painting is similar to staining in that you should begin by painting a test area first to determine whether or not you like the color. After you have chosen the color that you want to use, apply the paint in an even layer across the surface using a brush or roller that is designed for use with latex paint. Before moving on to the next step, make sure the paint has had ample time to completely dry.

It is essential to seal your furniture after it has been stained or painted to ensure that the new finish will hold up over the course of many years. Use a brush or roller designed for use with polyurethane products to apply a sealer made of clear polyurethane in an even layer across the entire surface. Before you start using your newly refinished piece of MDF furniture, make sure you give the sealer enough time to fully dry!


MDF can be finished in a variety of ways, allowing you to choose the method that works best for the project you are working on. For instance, if you want to give wood-effect furniture the appearance of having been painted, all that is required is the application of two coats of primer and one clear coat on top of that, just as you would do with conventional wooden surfaces.

You can also find wall tiles with a wooden effect that can be attached to the surface with glue or double-sided tape. However, if you want to achieve a more authentic “stained” finish, direct application on the surface is likely to give the best results instead.

You could also think about painting the piece first and then re-staining it afterward. The results of varnishing MDF furniture can be outstanding if the extra time and effort required to complete the process are not resisted. Having said that, this is not something that should be dealt with flippantly in any way. Conduct the necessary research before beginning any project; this will prevent you from wasting a significant amount of time later on.

I have high hopes that you have found these pointers helpful in repurposing furniture made from MDF. Thank you very much for reading!


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