Best Paint for MDF Review of Top 5 and Buying Guide

Painting

Many people are starting to love cabinets and furniture made of MDF for many good reasons. MDF is more cost-effective than most types of wood. Painting MDF, however, is not similar to painting wood. You will need to have a better understanding of the material and pick the best paint for MDF. 

What is MDF?

Medium-Density Fiberboard or MDF is engineered wood made of a combination of resin and sawdust glued together through high-pressure and high-heat processes. An MDF is available in 4-inch x-8-inch sheets with thickness ranging from ¼-inch to 1-inch. 

Image by FABLAB DF MEXICO

MDF is an inexpensive material (cheaper than plywood) commonly used these days for furniture, kitchen cabinets, flooring, interior doors, and other home construction applications. 

MDF comes with many benefits including:

  • Strong and durable material
  • Smooth surface that does not contain any rings, knots, and grain of real wood
  • Can be cut without the use of specialized tools
  • Extremely easy to use because it can be glued and screwed and not just nailed
  • Easy to shape
  • Paint easily with the right paint product
  • Does not easily bend
  • Does not come with natural impurities because it is engineered wood
  • Inexpensive

MDF also comes with some downsides:

  • It does not work well with water
  • Unless properly sealed, it may expand or warp 
  • Extreme humidity can alter its shape

It is to be understood, too that bare MDF looks ugly. Therefore, it is important for MDF to be painted with the right kind of paint. MDF must also be sealed with the right undercoat or primer. But what is the best paint for MDF

Product Reviews

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover– Editor’s Pick 

Best Paint for MDF
via Amazon.com

The Rust-Oleum 249126 Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover has twice more coverage than other paints. It is applicable for indoor and outdoor use. The Double Cover Technology allows this paint to complete jobs easier and faster. It is ideal to use in wicker, wood, plaster, metal, or unglazed ceramic. It is ideal for indoor and outdoor applications. 

The Rust-Oleum 249126 Painter’s Touch is a paint and primer in one with resistance to fading and chipping. It has twice the coverage of regular paint making the painting job easier and faster. Therefore, it comes with a durable and soft finish.

Related post: The best paint and primer in one

Pros

  • Primer and paint in one
  • Ideal for indoor and outdoor use 
  • Adheres well to wood, plastic, and more
  • Covers twice more space than regular paint
  • Resistant to chipping, peeling, and cracking
  • Fast-drying
  • Durable and smooth finish
  • Any-angle spray with comfortable spray tip

Cons

  • Emits terrible fumes

The Rust-Oleum 249126 dries to the touch in about 20 minutes with a no-shine flat finish. This 12-oz can of white spray paint can cover a space of up to 8-12 square feet.

Krylon K05515007 COLORmaxx – Runner-Up / Alternative Pick

Best Paint for MDF
via Amazon.com

The Krylon K05515007 COLORmaxx is a non-yellowing spray paint that comes with an acrylic gloss crystal clear finish. It is ideal for use in wood, wicker, paper mache, plastic, metal, glass, ceramic, paper, and fabric. It has a smooth application and provides protection against rust. 

The Krylon K05515007 spray paint features an easy-to-push button tip that allowing it to spray at any angle to get the job done fast. It dries to the touch in about 10 minutes and dry to handle after an hour. 

Pros

  • Comes with a smooth application
  • Anti-rust protection
  • Easy to use button tip that can spray at any angle
  • Fast coverage
  • Ideal for indoor and outdoor use
  • Quick-drying
  • Gloss Acrylic Crystal Clear

Cons

  • Paint tends to drip

A 12-ounce can of Krylon K05515007 COLORmaxx can paint about 15-20 square feet of area. 

The Rust-Oleum 7727502 Stops Rust Brush on Paint – Upgrade Pick

Best Paint for MDF
via Amazon.com

The Rust-Oleum 7727502 Stops Rust Brush on Paint is protective enamel paint. it comes with a glossy finish and is ideal for interior and exterior surfaces such as wood, concrete, masonry, metal, and many more surfaces. It is corrosion and weather-resistant. It is also abrasion, chip, and fade-resistant as well. 

The Rust-Oleum 7727502 is a durable oil-based paint with superior coverage. This 1-quart paint can cover up to 90 square feet of area and dries up in 2-4 hours. It is best applied with a roller or brush. 

Pros

  • Ideal for indoor and outdoor use
  • Oil-based formula
  • Durable and corrosion-resistant
  • Excellent coverage
  • Semi-gloss finish

Cons

  • Seems sticky when painting. 

The Rust-Oleum 7727502 Stops Rust Brush on Paint is available in popular colors that are ideal for providing a fresh coat of paint to indoor and outdoor surfaces. 

Diamond Brite Paint 80100 Latex Gloss Enamel – Budget Pick 

Best Paint for MDF
via Amazon.com

The Diamond Brite Paint 80100 Latex Gloss Enamel comes with a high gloss finish making it a popular choice for furniture, trim, and cabinets in contemporary settings. It is durable and resistant to moisture. It also comes with excellent adhesion making it ideal for wood, concrete, brick, stucco, metal, ceramics, and crafts.

This 1-Gallon Latex Gloss Enamel paint can hide imperfections in the surface but is slow to dry. It dries after about 30 minutes and can cover up to about 15 square feet of area. 

Pros 

  • Adheres well to almost any surface
  • Moisture-resistant
  • Chip, and fade-resistant 
  • Resistant to corrosion and rust 
  • Affordable 
  • Long lasting and high-hiding

Cons

  • Slow to dry

The Diamond Brite Paint 80100 Latex Gloss Enamel works best when the surface has been properly primed and sealed before painting. It can be rolled, sprayed, or brushed. 

Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Spray Paint – Best Oil-Based Paint for Demanding Substrates

Best Paint for MDF
via Amazon.com

The Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Spray Paint is oil-based and adheres well to interior and exterior surfaces including wood, metal, plastic, aluminum, fiberglass, concrete, and more. It resists rust, chipping, fading, and provides a long-lasting clear and flat finish with a low-sheen appearance. 

The Rust-Oleum Clear 302151 can be applied at any angle and features a patented trigger technology that provides unmatched comfort. It features a cap design that makes painting hard-to-reach areas easy and comfortable to prevent finger fatigue. This durable spray paint dries to the touch in about 30 minutes.

Pros

  • Provides UV protection
  • Chip and fade-resistant
  • Durable and moisture-resistant
  • Provides superior coverage
  • High-hiding
  • Ideal for interior and exterior application
  • Dries to the touch in about 30 minutes

Cons 

The 11-ounce can of the Rust-OleumUniversal Spray Paint can cover up to about 15 square feet. 

Popular MDF Paint Colors

Choosing the right paint color for MDF depends on the surface. If you are painting MDF kitchen cabinets, for example, white, cream, or beige are popular choices. For contemporary-styles kitchens, grey, black, and charcoal are in vogue while red looks amazing for a retro-styled kitchen.

Maybe you are interested in Guide for Choosing the Best Bonding Primer for Kitchen Cabinet

Kitchen worktops in MDF can be painted in contrasting shades or in the same color as the cupboards. When painting MDF worktops, choose a product that is scratch and stain-resistant. 

The same colors are also common for MDF window trims and interior doors. Windows and doors also look great in dark hues such as dark green or slate. If you want to paint MDF flooring, which is often laminated, brown would be an excellent idea. 

For MDF furniture, neutral colors such as ivory, white, beige, or cream are popular choices because they complement most living room interiors. Copper, gold, and brown also look awesome in a living room with a contemporary interior these colors highlight the elegance of the area. 

Tips for Painting MDF

MDF is a great alternative to wood, however, it needs to be painted because it does not look as beautiful as real wood. The process of painting wood and MDF are different. While wood often comes with blemishes and needs to be sanded, MDF comes sanded from the factory and is ready for painting. MDF often comes with a 150-grit smoothness making it easy to paint. 

Image by gosforthhandyman.com

Albeit already smooth and ready for painting, the edges of MDF, being more porous, requires some preparation to ensure a smooth and even finish. In short, when MDF is properly primed and sealed, painting is easy and you get the best results. 

MDF and water do not work well together. The porosity of MDF does not make it suitable for water-based paints, at least for the first coat. Thus, it is important that you use oil-based paints. 

A properly primed MDF, though, can work well with water-based paints. But still there is a risk that water will make the fibers of the board rise, something that is difficult to undo. It is, therefore, best that you choose oil-based paints for MDF cabinets or furniture. 

If you do not like to use oil-based paints because of their chemical odors and having to use paint thinners, your next best options are non-water based latex and acrylic paints. They are safer to use on MDF than water-based paints and are simpler to use than oil-based paints. 

Painting MDF cabinets, furniture, and other home construction applications are easy as long as you know the right paint to use and the right application techniques to avoid damaging the MDF material. It is also important that you use as little moisture as possible or no moisture at all. 

via Amazon.com

There are, however, some MDF sheets that are resistant to moisture, the moisture-resistant MDF sheets. 

‌FAQs‌ ‌

Do‌ ‌you‌ ‌need‌ ‌to‌ ‌seal‌ ‌MDF‌ ‌before‌ ‌painting‌ ‌?‌ ‌

MDF needs to be sealed before painting to prevent it from distortion and swelling. The wood surfaces and edges should be sealed especially when MDF is used near water or high humidity. A small amount of water trickling underneath can damage MDF. This damage is difficult to repair or undo. 

MDF can be sealed with a drywall sealer. Acrylic paint sealer, oil-based primers, or carpenter’s glue. The MDF sheet can then be sanded when it dries up. Sealed MDF can, to a certain extent, prevent moisture from sipping into it. 

How‌ ‌do‌ ‌I‌ ‌get‌ ‌a‌ ‌smooth‌ ‌paint‌ ‌finish‌ ‌on‌ ‌MDF‌?‌ ‌

A smooth finish is easy to achieve. A little preparation work before painting MDF can give it a smooth finish. 

A paint primer or sanding sealer can be used to freeze and raise the fibers of the MDF. Sanding will hide the fibers and not let them show on the finish. Sanding MDF with medium-grit sandpaper before priming will help give it a smooth finish. A smooth finish is achieved while the fibers underneath are protected against swelling.

What‌ ‌primer‌ ‌should‌ ‌you‌ ‌use‌ ‌on‌ ‌MDF‌ ‌?‌ ‌

MDF should be primed with a solvent-based primer. A spray gun, roller, or brushed can be used to apply the primer. 

Can‌ ‌I‌ ‌use‌ ‌a‌ ‌water‌ ‌based‌ ‌primer‌ ‌on‌ ‌MDF‌?‌ ‌ ‌

Water-based primers may make the wood fibers of MDF swell making it look like having raised grain, no matter how much you sand the surface., the surface will remain rough. A water-based primer is, therefore, not advisable. 

Can‌ ‌moisture‌ ‌resistant‌ ‌MDF‌ ‌be‌ ‌painted‌ ‌?‌ ‌

Moisture-resistant MDF sheets are designed to be used in humid conditions such as for bathroom furniture, kitchens, and windows. It can be painted after sealing and priming of all surfaces. Moisture-resistant MDF boards are, as a standard, produced with green-colored fibers. It is ideal for interior and external applications, too. 

Final Thoughts

MDF is cheaper than plywood and it comes with a smooth surface making it easy to paint. It is also ideal for machining, cutting, and drilling without chipping or splinters because its grain structure is non-directional. MDF sheets, however, can best be with oil-based paints because it is vulnerable to water and moisture. ‘

The best paint for MDF should be oil-based paints. Of the oil-based paints reviewed, the Rust-Oleum 249126 Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover is the best paint for MDF.  As a primer and paint in one, it will not chip and fade. Adding, it saves money because it has twice the coverage of regular paint and, also quick-drying.

More importantly, the Rust-Oleum 249126 Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover offers maximum protection to the surface. This product, however, emits fumes, so it is best to use it in a well-ventilated area.