Painted MDF Bookcases, What kind of paint to use?

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Forum topic by timothybowman posted 01-15-2010 05:36 PM 15288 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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18 posts in 3107 days

01-15-2010 05:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing

I am building this wall of bookshelves for my sister. She is planning on having another kid and needs to clear out the 2nd bedroom which is currently her sewing room/ catch-all. They have a large finished basement and are having me build a Multipurpose bookcase for books, dvd storage, and murphys bed style sewing table. and just for a little fun, a hidden bookcase door to the office.

My question is, what is the best type of paint to use for this project? back in highschool i once painted a cheap tv unit with some latex paint. it seemed that anytime i left something heavy on it for longer then a day it would stick to the surface of the paint. not always to the point of peeling the paint off, but enough for me to be cautious about using it on a real project in the future.

any ideas or have you used something in the past that has worked for you? any help is greatly appreciated.

Here is a sketch-up of what it will look like.
bookcase closed

and one of it opened up.
bookcase opened

-- --------tim bowman--------

11 replies so far

View paulcoyne's profile


133 posts in 3145 days

#1 posted 01-15-2010 05:46 PM

wow looks great very cool, anytime i am finishing MDF i use a lacquer spray that is pigmented they come in a large range just search becker acroma this would give you a super pro finish if you are any way handy at spraying

-- thats not a mistake... i ment that

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3156 days

#2 posted 01-15-2010 07:16 PM

Latex with a gloss or semigloss finish will remain sticky forever. Not to the touch, but like you noticed, things left sitting for long times will stick.

You might want to try a flat or eggshell latex, and topcoat it with a waterbased poly.

-- Gerry,

View Jeison's profile


968 posts in 3133 days

#3 posted 01-15-2010 07:31 PM

might find this useful FWW Tips for Painting MDF

-- - Jei, Rockford IL - When in doubt, spray it with WD-40 and wrap it with duct tape. The details will attend to themselves.

View thewoodmaster's profile


62 posts in 3217 days

#4 posted 01-15-2010 07:40 PM

i’ve always used killz as a primer. the oil based one, not latex! after it has dried for about 24hours, i sand the mdf and all the edged come out glassy smooth. then i use whatever top coat i want. using a latex primer wil not give as good a finished product.


-- dan "insert pithy woodworking coment here"

View Gene Howe's profile (online now)

Gene Howe

10535 posts in 3453 days

#5 posted 01-16-2010 02:05 AM

+1, Dan.
I’m in a pretty dry climate, but I’ve never had any problems with sticky latex enamel. I always use high gloss and coat with a water based poly.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3918 days

#6 posted 01-16-2010 02:20 AM

Unless your compressor can kickout about 21 cfm, Becker Acroma will do you little good but thats what I use and the again, you need to strain/filter your paint, add catalyst, add thinner in the right percentages and then run it through a viscosity cup…...........all a pain in the @$$ and you have to do the same thing for the primer.

I like the acrylic paints and primers…....more money but less waste, very durable.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Robert Kimmell's profile

Robert Kimmell

5 posts in 3090 days

#7 posted 01-17-2010 09:03 PM

I just painted some MDF shelves, I use BIN Shellac Primer to seal the mdf, an it worked great. It dries super fast so you can throw two coats in 2 hours to seal up all the end grain. Make sure to pre sand the end grain to 220 or so first.

I used latex semi gloss, and I would not recommend it. It was a pain to spray, and I feel that it would stick if something heavy was left on it. Luckily, this only stores paper.

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 3790 days

#8 posted 01-18-2010 01:26 AM

Here’s something to consider. A few years ago, I got the idea to paint the cabinets in the kitchen. I went to the local paint store and they recommended a Pittsburgh paint called “Direct to Metal” (DTM). They said the paint was really for applying to metal but does great on any surface. The thing that sold me on it was when they told me how durable it was. They said that the county’s high schools were using it on their school’s walls because it could hold up to the abuse. I had just finished putting up while (ice) tile on the walls above the cabinets and asked for the brightest white they had. The paint worked great.

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3602 days

#9 posted 01-18-2010 01:29 AM

I thinnk Robert has a good plan. Really nice design.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View JasonWagner's profile


527 posts in 3205 days

#10 posted 01-18-2010 01:47 AM

Cool project. If you don’t care (or it’s not a problem), just use oil based (alkyd) primer and paint. Then it’ll be hard and you can sand it easily. The vapors don’t hang out that long in my opinion. If you use latex I would suggest minimum thin coats. Then let it cure for a period of time. I’ve heard up to a month on other forums, but you can be the judge. Most people don’t have the option to use a sprayer.

-- some day I hope to have enough clamps to need a clamp cart!

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3076 days

#11 posted 01-18-2010 11:25 AM

Depending on color, and there are a lot, have you condidered milk paint? Seriously, it goes on, STAYS on, and can be topcoated with polyurethane, shellac, or your choice to smooth, deepen or protect the color. It’s not very expensive, and somewhat different to apply, but you can bet your bippie the next time my deaughter wants a painted piece of furniture, it’ll be milk paint ! Latex on furniture sucks. Get the most recent issue of Woodworking Magazine to get their perspective.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

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