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    Painting MDF shelves

    I have a workman in putting up bookshelves in the alcoves either side of the chimney in the dining room. The shelves are made of 18mm MDF with timber batons to support.

    I want the shelves to blend in with the white walls (matt emulsion) as much as possible so that what's on them is the feature rather than the shelves themselves. I have emulsion left over so I can use this but I'm not sure how to prep the MDF to take the paint or if I'd be better using a satin gloss. I'm 7 months pregnant so I'd like to avoid anything too noxious!

    Any suggestions would be gratefully received! Thanks.

    24 Comments

    It will take a few coats but emulsion will work fine, you could do with using an undercoat primer first to help with coverage, especially on the front edges where they will have been cut, you'll notice its basically like a sponge there!
    Make sure your away from the room while there cutting MDF in it and hoover it rather than sweeping once they are finished, you don't want to be breathing that in.

    Original Poster

    I'm hiding upstairs while all the cutting and drilling is done! Thank you for your help

    Lols...all the best on your impending... soon be Christmas too Take care.

    blueberry27

    I'm hiding upstairs while all the cutting and drilling is done! Thank … I'm hiding upstairs while all the cutting and drilling is done! Thank you for your help


    Original Poster

    Splodger101

    Lols...all the best on your impending... soon be Christmas too Take … Lols...all the best on your impending... soon be Christmas too Take care.



    ​Thank you

    I've made loads of bookshelves using MDF and you certainly need to seal the MDF before painting. If you don't it will suck up the paint like a sponge. There are MDF primers you can use but these can be expensive. The way I prime them is to mix 1 part PVA adhesive (you can buy this in 1L bottles from builders merchants etc) to 1 part water and mix well. You need to apply it to the mdf using a small roller , paying careful attention to edges where the board has been cut as these will absorb more of the mix. You must not soak the MDF just get the surface wet, it will very quickly soak up the mixture. Leave it to dry and then sand it down as the wetting process will have roughened the surface a little. Wipe down with a damp cloth to get rid of dust etc and apply another coat of PVA mix. Again leave it to dry and sand down. After this you will be able to paint the MDF easly and get a great finish using 2 coats of the emulsion if it's a decent make.

    Sand the edges first with a 240 grit paper (make sure you wear a face mask). Key the surfaces , preferably with a Scotch pad (take the sheen off).
    Personally i would not use an emulsion as once dust and dirt settle it will be a problem keeping clean and looking white.
    I usually spray paint with 2K (2 pack) paint but this is not really within the realms of home DIY.
    If the shelves are not fixed in place or you can remove the screws easily then i would remove them and roller paint with an oil based (preferable) or acrylic paint.
    I would seal with an etch primer first. Do the edges first and sand between coats until you get the smoothness required. Sand off an overspill on the smooth flat surfaces. Topcoat the edges and one flat surface and allow to dry. When thoroughly dry do the other flat surface and the edges again. Repeat until desired finish is achieved.
    Preperation is the most important part as that will reflect in the finish.
    All single pack white paints will eventually yellow.


    Edited by: "Tivolian" 10th Sep 2016

    RxTx

    I've made loads of bookshelves using MDF and you certainly need to seal … I've made loads of bookshelves using MDF and you certainly need to seal the MDF before painting. If you don't it will suck up the paint like a sponge. There are MDF primers you can use but these can be expensive. The way I prime them is to mix 1 part PVA adhesive (you can buy this in 1L bottles from builders merchants etc) to 1 part water and mix well. You need to apply it to the mdf using a small roller , paying careful attention to edges where the board has been cut as these will absorb more of the mix. You must not soak the MDF just get the surface wet, it will very quickly soak up the mixture. Leave it to dry and then sand it down as the wetting process will have roughened the surface a little. Wipe down with a damp cloth to get rid of dust etc and apply another coat of PVA mix. Again leave it to dry and sand down. After this you will be able to paint the MDF easly and get a great finish using 2 coats of the emulsion if it's a decent make.



    ^^ This method with PVA, but I'd finish with a water based satinwood as opposed to emulsion, emulsion would be fine, but IMO the satinwood would be more hard wearing.

    andynicol

    ^^ This method with PVA, but I'd finish with a water based satinwood as … ^^ This method with PVA, but I'd finish with a water based satinwood as opposed to emulsion, emulsion would be fine, but IMO the satinwood would be more hard wearing.



    I'd agree , I always use satinwood myself, the OP said he wanted to use emulsion so it matched his walls which is why I mentioned it.

    RxTx

    I'd agree , I always use satinwood myself, the OP said he wanted to use … I'd agree , I always use satinwood myself, the OP said he wanted to use emulsion so it matched his walls which is why I mentioned it.



    The OP actually asked whether 'satin gloss' would be better then the left over emulsion.

    Both of us concur that the emulsion would be fine, but finishing with a satinwood would give a better, more durable finish.

    'He' is 7 months pregnant though oO

    RxTx

    I'd agree , I always use satinwood myself, the OP said he wanted to use … I'd agree , I always use satinwood myself, the OP said he wanted to use emulsion so it matched his walls which is why I mentioned it.



    Edited by: "Splodger101" 11th Sep 2016

    RxTx

    I'd agree , I always use satinwood myself, the OP said he wanted to use … I'd agree , I always use satinwood myself, the OP said he wanted to use emulsion so it matched his walls which is why I mentioned it.

    Splodger101

    MDF will need priming - all surfaces this might help...other brands are … MDF will need priming - all surfaces this might help...other brands are available!! ..and get your partner to paint the shelves??!!



    Only men can do DIY though, right?



    I don't think their assumption is much different to yours that a woman couldn't possibly be pregnant or function on their own without a partner...
    Edited by: "dcx_badass" 11th Sep 2016

    No, if you cared to read the Op original posting.. and some of the earlier thread, you would see that she doesn't want to get involved as she is pregnant and might be affected by obnoxious fumes and MDF dust.. Please keep your incorrect assumptions to yourself in future - I have never been sexist... oO

    dcx_badass

    Only men can do DIY though, right?I don't think their assumption is much … Only men can do DIY though, right?I don't think their assumption is much different to yours that a woman couldn't possibly be pregnant or function on their own without a partner...


    Splodger101

    No, if you cared to read the Op original posting.. and some of the … No, if you cared to read the Op original posting.. and some of the earlier thread, you would see that she doesn't want to get involved as she is pregnant and might be affected by obnoxious fumes and MDF dust.. Please keep your incorrect assumptions to yourself in future - I have never been sexist... oO


    Why does that mean she has a partner though? If that was an option she probably wouldn't be asking this to begin with (and saying she didn't want to do it).

    Splodger101

    No, if you cared to read the Op original posting.. and some of the … No, if you cared to read the Op original posting.. and some of the earlier thread, you would see that she doesn't want to get involved as she is pregnant and might be affected by obnoxious fumes and MDF dust.. Please keep your incorrect assumptions to yourself in future - I have never been sexist... oO



    The OP didn't state she didn't want to paint, just that she didn't want anything too 'noxious'.

    dcx_badass

    Why does that mean she has a partner though? If that was an option she … Why does that mean she has a partner though? If that was an option she probably wouldn't be asking this to begin with (and saying she didn't want to do it).


    so you are saying that if she had a partner then he would automatically be able to do diy, so much better than what you moaned about
    and why would the partner need to be a man? (you dont seem to think it takes 2 to tango anyway so..).
    irony overload

    brilly

    so you are saying that if she had a partner then he would automatically … so you are saying that if she had a partner then he would automatically be able to do diy, so much better than what you moaned aboutand why would the partner need to be a man? (you dont seem to think it takes 2 to tango anyway so..).irony overload


    I didn't say either of the things you suggested, better luck next time. I was specifically against their comment about her needing a 'man' to do it. I also never once said the partner would be a man either, I responded to the comment saying 'he'.

    dcx_badass

    I didn't say either of the things you suggested, better luck next time. I … I didn't say either of the things you suggested, better luck next time. I was specifically against their comment about her needing a 'man' to do it. I also never once said the partner would be a man either, I responded to the comment saying 'he'.


    perhaps i misunderstand your comment to splodger as you obviously didn't understand theirs, old chinese whispers in play i guess

    Have you though of using sicky back plastic, £5 a roll from willco. MDF needs to be sealed really so water based paint is not ideal.

    PulisOut

    Have you though of using sicky back plastic, £5 a roll from willco. MDF … Have you though of using sicky back plastic, £5 a roll from willco. MDF needs to be sealed really so water based paint is not ideal.


    That'll be too lumpy.

    Spango

    That'll be too lumpy.



    Why would it be lumpy ? last year I cover a whole kitchen cabinet door in the stuff and that wasn't lumpy. Flat surfaces should be easy enough.

    PulisOut

    Why would it be lumpy ? last year I cover a whole kitchen cabinet door in … Why would it be lumpy ? last year I cover a whole kitchen cabinet door in the stuff and that wasn't lumpy. Flat surfaces should be easy enough.



    Read your post again.

    PulisOut

    Have you though of using sicky back plastic, £5 a roll from willco. MDF … Have you though of using sicky back plastic, £5 a roll from willco. MDF needs to be sealed really so water based paint is not ideal.



    Sealing with PVA has been advised, in which case water based paint would be fine.

    Spango

    Read your post again.



    Ha ha !! I'll just leave it as it is, at least I have comedy value :-)
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