We are often asked if Laser cut MDF can be painted. The answer is a big YES!
Be sure to read to the end for our super tips!
Is it a fast process you may wonder, well in short yes it can be however if you want a perfect finish its really worth taking some time to get it right. Sure, you can grab a can of spray paint that contains a primer and give it a few light coats, which will sure do the trick, or you can spend a bit extra time to sand and allow it to dry perfectly between coats to get it spot on.
If you do want to simple give it a quick spray paint, we have found Rustoleum brand spray cans great as they do contain a primer already in them. We cannot stress how important it is to do thin coats and letting it dry well in between coats. By not sanding between coats you may see small bubbles or imperfections.
Think of it as a bit of a craft project though and make it exciting, the bonus then is an awesome finished product!
Ideally you should prime your items first
MDF is quiet a porous material and once laser cut, its edges are black (yes, they are burnt). So essentially you want to cover those edges and also give the surface of the MDF a coating of primer to give the paint a nice surface to stick to. Before you do this, give the tough burnt edges a sand with some fine grit sand paper.
You can buy MDF primer from hardware stores however a cheaper alternative can be a matte black or white paint. You should apply at least two coats of primer letting them really thoroughly dry between coats and also giving them a light sand between coats and after the final coat dries, again with light grit san paper only, just to smooth the surface so it’s free of any bumps.
Now the fun part, seeing your item come to life with some colour!
Apply thin coats of paint, regardless of if it is spray paint or acrylic hand paints. This is our biggest tip, thin coats and letting them dry properly in between the next coat. If after one coat you see any bubbles or dirt etc (anything that’s going to make the surface not smooth), wait for it to dry, like really dry, and very carefully go over it lightly with super fine sand paper before applying the next coat. Continue the process of fine coats until you have your desired finish. While MDF may be suitable for outdoors if sealed, we personally do not recommend using our products outdoors as MDF is not weather resistant. It doesnt like the elements very much.
Why stop there
Your imagination depends on how good your finished product will be. You can add flowers, feathers, sequins, stickers, glitter, photos, lace or just about anything else your heart desires! Why not try a white washed look? Or some chalk paint? Or even some fancy hand painted designs?!
Gluing on MDF
We recommend using general PVA glue. Preferably a clear drying one. There are tonnes available at craft stores and hardware stores.
Simply spread a small amount to the back and allow it to go “tacky” and stick! You do not need a heap of glue.
PVA glue gives a nice flush finish. As opposed to, let’s say hot glue, which will leave a “lump” behind it as it hardens as its much thicker.
Remember though the surface you are sticking it to will depend on how well it sticks. If its raw MDF to raw MDF, it will stick great. If you are sticking it to a painted surface, you may need to hold it down (or apply something heavy on top of it) while the glue goes off (dries).
Each project does vary.
Super tip #1 If you are wanting a gold or silver finish (not metallic) you can skip all of the above steps by using export brand spray cans (available from super cheap auto and the likes) and applying a couple of thin coats, letting dry in between!
Super tip #2 If spray painting and wanting black or white, use a matte paint rather than gloss, its much easier to apply, therefore harder to ruin!
Super tip #3 If your painting sucks and it turns out really bad, allow it to all dry for 48 hours, sand it all the way back (or close to it) and start again! All is not lost ?
Super tip #4 If your item is something that you need to put together, eg it is a box,sleigh or beer caddy (anything like this), remember to be careful with how much paint you put around the tabs and slots that need to go into each other. Too much paint will result in them not fitting together.
Disclaimer: This is general advice. There are many techniques and products that can be used, and we do suggest you do your research on what types or brands of paint you use and what technique best suits you, these are purely our own tips from personal experience. If in doubt, speak to someone at your local hardware or paint store. We will not be held responsible for your products if you paint or glue them incorrectly