3 Tips for Finishing Fiberboard

Stack of mdf boards
  • 1-10 hours
  • Beginner
  • 1-300

Fiberboard is found everywhere we look. One can argue that fiberboard exists to prevent waste as it is made out of scrap wood and now it is being made from old phone books, paper, and other secondhand raw materials. Fiberboard is available in low-density, medium-density, and high-density versions which all have their uses in real-world applications. The most common variety of fiberboard is particle board which is used mainly to create furniture. It can also be used to create shelving and dashboards. Fiberboard is not the most attractive wood product known to man which makes finishing it an important step to using it, but this can prove laborious. The article below will provide tips and tricks on how you can properly and safely finish fiberboard.

1. Painting and Staining

In many instances you may find yourself keeping the particleboard look of fiberboard but painting or staining the material. If you are planning on building an outdoor structure or a quick set of shelves then finishing the fiberboard is not that big of a deal. Use 120-grit sandpaper and sand down the surface of the fiberboard. Use a tack cloth to remove the dust particulates created by sanding then simply paint or stain the surface of the particleboard. You may use one or more coats as you see fit.

2. Cutting Fiberboard

cutting a piece of moulding

Fiberboard can be cut, but doing so can be an awfully difficult process. Fiberboard is made out of scraps of wood, paper, and other materials. These particles or fibers of the wood are combined with chemicals, adhesives, and other binding agents and then pressed to form the fiberboard. When you look at the surface or cut the board you will notice how it differs from other wood.

Cutting fiberboard can easily cause chips to be taken out of the wood. Part of the finishing process may have you cutting it and this is tricky. After you draw your cut lines (both sides of the board) you will place two-inch wide painter’s tape over the cut line on of the sides. The tape needs to have one-inch on each side of the line. You will flip the board over and then cut it directly through the tape.

3. Powder Coating

pile of mdf furniture pieces

This is a finishing technique that is rather young despite being created in the late 60s. You mostly heard of metal being powder coated, but fiberboard can also be coated. Powder coating is the process of dry paint being applied to a surface and melted to form a smooth surface. The finished product is the same as two coats of regular paint.

The item to be powder-coated is either lowered into a bed of electrostatically charges fluidized powder or it is sprayed on. This is a delicate process to use on fiberboard and should be done professionally. The smooth surface of the fiberboard makes this process less than likely to succeed. Sanding helps with painting and staining, but fiberboard needs a deeper surface scratch in order to take powder coating effectively.