How to Paint MDF Cabinet Doors

Lead Image
  • 3-5 hours
  • Beginner
  • 30-60
What You'll Need
Sandpaper (80 grit and 220 grit)
Oil-based primer
Oil-based paint

MDF cabinet doors may require painting more often than the rest of the cabinet because the doors are more exposed to scratches and other damaging factors. When you paint the MDF cabinet doors, you need to consider the material you are working with. MDF is made of wood particles mixed with resins and adhesives. The surface of the boards is extremely porous, so an oil-based paint is preferable.

Step 1 - Detach Cabinet Doors

Start by removing the cabinet doors so you can paint them without worrying about dripping paint. Most cabinet doors are screwed on the cabinet, so use a screwdriver to remove the doors. Keep the screws you remove in a sealed bag.

Step 2 - Set Up Your Working Space

Once you remove the cabinet doors you have the flexibility to work anywhere. Opt for a ventilated space or a space where you can keep the doors or windows open. The oil-based paints may emit toxic substances until the paint is dry, and these shouldn't be inhaled. Put the cabinet doors on a table or work on the floor. Put some old newspapers on the floor to make the cleaning job easier.

Step 3 - Prepare the Cabinet Doors

Cabinet doors made of MDF have a rough surface, which will be difficult to paint. Make the surfaces smoother using an 80 grit sandpaper. Rent a sander, which will speed up the process. If you find holes in the cabinet doors, fill these with wood putty.

WARNING: Put on safety glasses and a face mask before starting the sander to avoid getting any wood particles into your eyes or lungs.

Step 4 - Spread Primer

Spread the primer on one side of the door and the lateral edges as well, and allow it to dry. An oil-based primer will take longer to dry than water-based compounds. Check the surface and if it appears dry, apply primer on the other side of the door as well. The other side of the door may not necessarily need painting, depending on the purpose of the cabinet. Sand lightly after the surface is dry, wipe the dust and apply a second coat of primer.

Step 5 - Paint the Cabinet Doors

Different colors of paint.

Sand the primed cabinet doors and wipe off the dust. Apply a coat of paint on one side. Paint from the top of the door to the bottom, so that you can correct any drips. Dry the surface. Paint the other side of the door as well. The MDF doors may be absorbent and one coat of paint may not be enough. Apply a second coat of paint on all sides of the door and then allow 24 hours for it to dry.

Step 6 - Reattach Cabinet Doors

Reattach the cabinet doors using the screws that you have stored. Keep the doors open for a few days, until the smell of the paint evaporates completely. Remove any drips of paint in the working area by employing a solvent.