How to repaint mdf kitchen cabinets

Written by carol owens
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How to repaint mdf kitchen cabinets
MDF cabinets might need repainting if they are starting to look dated. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

When it comes time for a change to the old paint on your MDF cabinets, there are a few steps that need to be taken. Medium density fiberboard, or MDF, is a compressed wood made of glue and sawdust tightly pressed together to create a solid surface. It does not take paint the same way as normal solid wood even though it is made up of wood fibres. The surface needs to be properly prepared before painting begins. MDF kitchen cabinets need to be sealed against moisture since MDF swells when water is absorbed into its surface.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Drill
  • Painter's tape
  • Dust sheet
  • Palm sander
  • Sandpaper, 120 grit and 400 grit
  • Tack cloth
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Non-shrinking wall putty
  • Putty knife
  • Alkyd-based primer
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Roller

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  1. 1

    Remove the hinges and hardware from the kitchen cabinets and doors with a drill. Remove the drawers from the cabinets. Label the doors with letters or numbers with painter's tape for easier reassembling.

  2. 2

    Set up a work area with a large flat surface for the cabinet doors. Protect any areas around the work surface with a dust sheet.

  3. 3

    Place 120 grit sandpaper on palm sander. Lightly sand the MDF cabinets. Clean the sanding grit from the cabinets with denatured alcohol and a tack cloth.

  4. 4

    Fill any small dings in the MDF with non-shrinking putty, using a putty knife. Scrape across the hole with the flat edge of the knife at an angle to the wall. Remove any excess putty before it dries. Sand smooth the dried putty on the repaired spots.

  5. 5

    Apply an alkyd-based primer with a brush. The primer needs to be designed for slick surfaces. Paint tops and insides of the cabinets with a primer to seal against moisture. Allow the kitchen cabinets to dry.

  6. 6

    Sand the primer covered cabinets again. Remove any sandpaper dust with a tack cloth.

  7. 7

    Apply one coat of paint with a roller or a paintbrush. A latex semigloss enamel paint is an excellent choice for the kitchen cabinets. Let the paint dry.

  8. 8

    Sand the cabinets, drawers and doors with the 400 grit sandpaper. Remove the dust with a tack cloth.

  9. 9

    Apply a second coat of paint with a paintbrush. Let dry.

  10. 10

    Install the hinges to the doors and remount them to the cabinets. Install the door pulls. Replace the drawers. Install drawer pulls.

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