How to Paint MDF Furniture

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Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver

  • Sandpaper block or palm sander with 220-grit sandpaper

  • Clean rags

  • Tack cloth

  • Shellac (a primer/sealer)

  • Acrylic latex paint

  • Foam paintbrush or rollers

  • Wipe-on polyurethane varnish

MDF furniture can make a wonderful, cheap update for a home on a tight budget. But when it comes time for a new update, MDF can seem like a nightmare to paint. Between the slick surface of the laminate on top of the MDF, and the porous MDF material, it can seem like an impossibility to give the furniture a splash of color. But with a primer and sealer that works for MDF surfaces, like Shellac, your fears can be washed away. With some priming, sanding and an available weekend, your furniture can look like new.


Step 1

Break down and disassemble the furniture as much as possible with a screwdriver to make the sanding, priming and painting processes much simpler and more efficient.

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Step 2

Remove any finishes or sticky substances from the surface of the furniture by sanding it with a 220-grit sanding block or sandpaper.

Step 3

Wipe the sanded furniture with a clean tack cloth to get rid off any dirt or grime that was pulled up from sanding.

Step 4

Put a single coat of Shellac onto the sanded furniture pieces with a foam brush or roller (depending on the size of your piece of furniture) in even stroke and leave the furniture to dry overnight.


Step 5

Apply latex paint (in your preferred color/finish) with a foam brush or roller in even strokes across the furniture. Allow the paint to dry (this should take three to five hours) and apply a second coat if necessary.

Step 6

Apply a single coat of a clear wipe-on varnish with a clean rag if your furniture will see a lot of traffic. Follow the directions specified on your particular brand of varnish.

Step 7

Put the furniture back together after all pieces have dried completely.


Using a paint sprayer will leave the furniture with the most clean, seamless, professional finish you can achieve at home.


Keep all paint products away from children


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