Question regarding painting MDF

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by NH_Hermit posted 07-24-2013 05:17 PM 1168 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 3062 days

07-24-2013 05:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’m in the middle of building a router table with the top made from MDF. I applied a few coats of Rustoleum gray primer I had left over from another project, but it does not seem to be drying to a hard finish. What would you suggest I use? I want the finished project to be a flat light grey and very hard to take a lot of abuse.

-- John from Hampstead

11 replies so far

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3300 days

#1 posted 07-24-2013 05:49 PM

With the disclaimer that I am far from an expert on paints John, I would recommend a good quality enamel paint. I have used a satin finish version on my shop floor which is tongue and groove chipboard platters. It has withstood an incredible amount of use and abuse over the last 11 years and it still looks great. You can see it in shop pictures on my home page.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View fredj's profile


186 posts in 1784 days

#2 posted 07-24-2013 06:36 PM

I’ll add stefang’s disclaimer, I’m no expert on paint or MDF. You’re in WNC, so you’ve been getting lots of rain, as I have here in the Upstate SC. The lack of drying could be do to the very high humidity. I’ve been getting very slow drying times with poly over the past 6 to 8 weeks. There are a number of different types of MDF. Some soak up moisture like a sponge, others can don’t. Not a fan of MDF, but it tends to paint well.

I think you’d have a better surface on your table if you used a slick plastic laminate. I made mine with 3/4 melamine, which is just about the same thing.

-- Fredj

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2937 days

#3 posted 07-24-2013 07:00 PM

It would be very hard to get any better wear resisting, low friction, work surface than matte finished plastic laminate (Formica).

But, if your primer drying problem is due to moisture, a dehumidifier would help. Put it in an air conditioned room if you don’t have a DH.

I had a bookcase I refinished that would not dry. Still felt slightly tacky after a week. DH solved the problem.

View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 3062 days

#4 posted 07-24-2013 07:28 PM

Yup, Fred – a lot of soul wearing rain and high humidity. I thought that might be a factor, so since it’s Thursday and I won’t get a chance to get to the store until Saturday we’ll wait and see what happens. If it’s still not really dry, then it’s time for the enamel. I think I’ll bring it into the house and let the house AC do whatever it does to it.

Michael, I like the saying you have attached to you’re name.

-- John from Hampstead

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2039 days

#5 posted 07-24-2013 09:59 PM

+1 on the formica, or plastic laminate. Even with a great cure, it will surprise you how fast that paint is gonna wear.

-- Who is John Galt?

View NiteWalker's profile


2736 posts in 2543 days

#6 posted 07-24-2013 11:40 PM

+1 more on formica; paint will not be very durable for router table use.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1835 days

#7 posted 07-25-2013 12:39 AM

I have a buttload of various types of plastic laminates I left over from different jobs. Once I get a decent set up, all my shop built jigs and tables will be laminated. It’s hard, and slick. You can write on it with a pencil, but it will wipe clean too. Need a piece or two? Give me a yell. You pay shipping and I’d be happy to send a piece or two. I’m guessing 2’x 3’ would suffice? No need to pay retail for a full sheet when I have more than I will use.

I save them, “just in case” and actually benefitted from that, but trust me… I have an excess supply.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View firefighterontheside's profile


17949 posts in 1823 days

#8 posted 07-25-2013 02:06 AM

I too am thinking that paint will not be very good finish for the table top. I’m planning to make a new top for mine using the parts from my old rocker top and I will put a plastic laminate on it. I’m thinking that when you push something across that paint with a good degree of down pressure you’re gonna get paint transfer to your piece. If you don’t take buckethead up on his very nice offer, I would try the mdf with several coats of oil based poly. The first coat will penetrate pretty deep and help keep it from fraying for a while, but eventually it will. I mentioned my old rockler top, well it has worn through on the edges even with the plastic laminate.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View GNP's profile


12 posts in 2469 days

#9 posted 07-25-2013 12:20 PM

If you have a local cabinet shop, you may be able to pick up a some laminate cheaper than paint.

View LakeLover's profile


283 posts in 1906 days

#10 posted 07-25-2013 12:33 PM

Primer is not made to be a final finish. It is made to assist the substrate sticking to the final finish. A good clear coat will give the softer primer a tougher surface.

Laminate is the best choice and do both sides. I pickup damaged sheets for cheap and have a supply of off cuts.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2816 days

#11 posted 07-25-2013 01:43 PM

If you have a Habitat ReStore in the area, they will likely have pieces of laminate.

Second choice would be to use Melamine. It will work and hold up pretty well.

+1 on LakeLover’s comment on primer. One coat, then go for the finish line.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics