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How to Paint MDF Properly

By Jim Dugan
Professional Contractor & DIY Expert

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  • Short for medium-density fibreboard, MDF is an engineered wood product used to make inexpensive boards for furniture and homes. Painting MDF is not particularly difficult as long as you properly prepare the surface, beforehand.

    Preparing MDF for Paint

    To enhance adhesion, clean the medium-density fibreboard. Wash exterior surfaces using a pressure washer. If the MDF is located indoors, dust it with tack cloths. Once the engineered wood product is clean, add a primer base coat. Use latex primer on interior medium-density fibreboard; use acrylic primer on exterior MDF. Roll the primer onto large areas; touch-up using a nylon or polyester paintbrush.

    How to Paint Medium-density Fibreboard

    If you know how to prime MDF, you know how to paint MDF. Simply add the paint just as you did the primer. Use acrylic paint on exterior medium-density fibreboard. If the MDF is located indoors and isnít subject to duress, use latex paint. If it is subject to duress, opt for acrylic enamel.


    If the MDF is stained, you'll need to use a shellac primer to ensure adequate adhesion and coverage.