How to Paint Over a White MDF Bookcase


MDF, which stands for medium density fiberboard, is a material that is both dense and flat. It is composed of wood fibres that have been bonded together. MDF has neither knots nor a discernible grain because of the manufacturing process that goes into it. Since it is a far more cost-effective alternative to using hardwood, it is a material that is often utilised for the production of furniture. In addition to this, MDF has a very smooth surface that is ideal for painting.

  1. 1. Lay Out a Drop Cloth

    Place the bookshelf on top of a drop sheet to prevent paint splatters, dust, and other particles from falling onto the floor. Perform your labour in a location that has enough ventilation, ideally outside. If the bookcase cannot be moved, protect the area around it with drop sheets and tape the walls that are adjacent to the bookcase with painter’s tape. If the bookcase can be moved, paint the bookcase itself.

  2. 2. Remove the Bookcase’s Shelving

    If it’s at all feasible, take the shelves out of the bookshelf. Sanding and painting are both simplified as a result of this.

  3. 3. Sand the Bookcase

    According to Fine Woodworking, you should use sandpaper with a grain range of 120 to 150 to sand the bookcase and the shelves. This will not erase the present paint, but it will roughen the surface so that it is prepared to take a fresh coat of priming when it is applied.

  4. 4. Remove any Paint Dust

    To remove any paint dust that may be present on the surface of the bookshelf, just wipe it down with a tack cloth. In order to have a workplace that is free of dust, you should vacuum the area around it.

  5. 5. Apply a Layer of Oil or Primer to the Bookcase

    Apply one coat of an MDF primer that is based on oil or lacquer. Because the paint was already there, you should only need to apply one layer. However, if you want to paint the bookcase a colour that is noticeably lighter than the prior paint colour, you may be required to apply a second coat of primer. Allow between four and six hours for each coat to dry in between applications. After you have applied the last layer, let it dry overnight.

  6. 6. Caulk Gaps and Cracks

    Correct any flaws in the bookcase, such as gaps or fractures around the connection locations, using the appropriate tools and materials. To seal the joints, just run a line of paintable acrylic caulk along each joint. Caulk may be given a smooth appearance by just dragging one’s finger over it. Because caulk contracts as it dries, it is possible that a second application will be necessary. Wait a whole day before touching the caulk again.

  7. 7. Sand the Bookcase a Second Time

    The whole bookshelf, including the caulk, should be sanded using sandpaper of a finer grade. Clean it with a tack cloth, and then vacuum the area where you’ll be working.

  8. 8. Paint MDF Furniture

    Put on the first layer of the enamel paint that is oil-based. When applying the paint, a spray gun should be used if at all feasible since it will provide the smoothest finish. Make a lengthy, sweeping motion with the spray gun in the back-and-forth direction. Paint will clump together and run if you do not keep the spray moving while it applies the paint. Alternately, you might apply the paint using a paintbrush of acceptable quality. After the bookcase has been allowed to dry for four to six hours, a second coat should be applied. Before restoring the shelves and books, ensure that the area has been allowed to dry for at least 24 hours.

    Things You Will Need

    • Drop sheets

    • Painter’s tape

    • Fine sandpaper, 120- to 150-grit

    • Tack cloth

    • Oil- or lacquer-based primer

    • Paintbrushes

    • Paintable, acrylic caulk

    • Oil-based enamel paint

    • Spray gun


    MDF has a smooth look because paper is laminated on its surface, which MDF does not have. Because this paper does not extend all the way to the edges, the edges may be somewhat porous and rough. If the edges of your bookcase were not properly handled with in the past, you may smooth down the rough edges by sanding the bookshelf using sandpaper that is increasingly finer.


    To remove the current paint, do not use a paint remover that contains chemicals. Due to the fact that MDF is quite porous, it will just absorb the stripper, which may cause the bookshelf to become bent.

    Steer clear of primers that are water-based since MDF will drink up the moisture in the same manner that paint remover does.