MDF is an engineered wood material used in many household applications. Cheap and easy to process, MDF replaces hardwood in the manufacture of interior doors, floorings, furniture and kitchen cabinets – to name just a few.

The only downside of this material is that bare MDF is plain ugly. That’s why painting it with an appropriate product is essential. Highly absorbent, bare MDF must also be sealed with a suitable primer or undercoat. But what products should you consider?

Because wood paint may provide unflattering results, our expert team has tested and rated the most promising MDF paints and sealers in the UK. Check our top picks below.

painted mdf wood


Our #1 Best Pick

multi surface paint

Bedec Soft Satin Multi-Surface Paint

Our top choice – a 3-in-1 primer, undercoat and topcoat for MDF, wood, plaster and more.

Low Cost Option

rustins quick drying MDF sealer

Rustins Quick Drying MDF Sealer

A quick drying and budget-friendly MDF primer and sealer that doesn’t disappoint.

Best Of The Rest

Ronseal One Coat Melamine & MDF

Self-priming melamine and MDF paint – it comes in 11 colours but is hard to work with.

Dulux Primer & Undercoat For Wood

Quick Dry primer and undercoat for interior and exterior wood.

Blackfriar MDF Acrylic Primer Undercoat

An exceptional acrylic primer and undercoat for new or previously painted MDF.


Choosing the right colour for MDF depends on the surface you’re painting. If you’re painting MDF kitchen cabinets, for example, the best hues are those that complement your environment. White is a popular choice but neutral tones such as beige and cream also look amazing in most kitchens.

Grey, anthracite, charcoal and black are popular choices in contemporary style kitchens. Red looks great in a retro-chic interior.

Blush pink, perhaps mix and matched with turquoise or ivory is an ideal choice in a shabby chic context.

The same colours are also ideal for MDF doors or window trims. Yet, darker hues, such as slate or dark green are among other popular choices for either doors or windows. MDF flooring is usually covered in laminate; but in case you want to paint it, brown is an excellent choice.

For living room furniture made of MDF, neutral colours are the most popular choices. White, ivory, cream, beige or sand complement most environments. Brown, copper, silver and gold look amazing in a contemporary interior, highlighting the elegance of the place.

MDF kitchen worktops can be painted in the colour of the cupboards or in a contrasting shade. We recommend choosing a product that resists staining and scratches – or use a suitable top coat for the finish.

multi surface paint
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A multi-surface paint for interior and exterior use. Its soft satin finish needs little to no maintenance.

Bedec Soft Satin is an exceptional water-based paint for interiors and exteriors. The product is not specifically formulated for MDF but is suitable for a wide range of surfaces, including MDF, wood, melamine, plaster, ceramic tiles, UPVC and more.

The product has a quick drying formula and acts as a combined primer, undercoat and topcoat. These features make the paint ideal to use for quick projects, and if you’re a less experienced DIYer, Bedec requires little surface preparation and offers total peace of mind.

Covering up to 15m²/litre, the paint can be applied with a brush, roller or sprayer and can be recoated in four hours. But these aren’t the only features we liked.

A great advantage of this paint over the others is its outstanding flexibility; Bedec, in fact, resists cracking and keeps its flawless finish for longer. One downside, the covering power is lower than expected and it may take three coats or more to achieve good results.

Drawbacks aside, the product comes in 39 attractive colours and is supplied in 750ml and 2.5L tins.


• Water-based paint has a low odour and a low content of volatile organic compounds. It is safe to use it in enclosed environments.
• Bedec MSP is environmentally friendly. The non-toxic formula is ideal for the nursery or the kid’s room.
• The product is breathable and alkali resistant. It can be cleaned with a damp cloth and looks great for a long time.
• Outstanding adherence makes this paint ideal for a wide range of surfaces. Shiny surfaces require minimal preparation.
• Suitable to use in all environments, the paint is available in gloss, soft satin and matt finishes. Soft satin is our favourite and dries to an elegant low-sheen.


• Coverage drops on porous surfaces and due to absorbency, it may take a lot of paint to get full coverage on bare MDF.
• Colours are paler than expected and coverage power is low. We wouldn’t recommend applying this paint over a substantially darker shade.
• Due to viscosity, it’s hard to get a smooth finish when applying with a paintbrush. Applying thin coats to a small section at a time can improve the results.

rustins quick drying MDF sealer

Unique yet pocket-friendly MDF sealer – clear colour makes it ideal to use before painting or varnishing.

Supplied in 500ml tins, Rustins Quick Drying MDF Sealer is a unique product. Formulated to treat MDF surfaces, the undercoat comes in a clear colour that is capable of receiving both paints and varnishes, but also waterproof sealants.

This makes the product ideal for indoor and outdoor applications while the water-based formula is safe to use in all environments, although the sealer has an awkward smell that is hard to get rid of. Another slight drawback is the watery consistency which makes it almost impossible to apply the product without drips.

Nonetheless, coverage is exceptional. In most cases, one coat is enough; two coats are usually needed on highly absorbent surfaces such as the corners and edges of bare MDF panels.

The watery consistency also brings other advantages. It allows you to apply the product with your preferred method, including a sprayer – while the brushes and rollers are easy to clean up. Staying true to its name, Rustins Quick Dry Sealer really has a quick drying time of only 30 minutes. Applied in ideal conditions, the sealer accepts a second coat in only two hours.


• The clear finish makes this MDF sealer stand out. Unlike coloured undercoats that only receive paint, this product is also compatible with a wide range of varnishes, gloss paints and waterproof sealants.
• Rustins MDF sealer covers up to 12m²/litre, it comes at a fair price and boasts a very good quality.
• Watery consistency makes it easy to apply on either bare or previously painted surfaces.
• One coat is usually enough for sealing the surface and the product can be painted over after about two hours.


• Water-based formula has a tendency to swell MDF when applied to bare edges, due to the composition of the material.
• The product soaks into porous surfaces and coverage drops considerably on bare MDF.

ronseal one coat melamine paint

Average-quality product negatively affected by misleading name.

As its name suggests, Ronseal One Coat is advertised as a one coat melamine and MDF paint. However, the paint doesn’t rise to the expectations and although it is an otherwise good product, the misleading name has a negative impact on brand perception.

According to the manufacturer, this melamine and MDF paint is also self-priming. This is partially true, in that you don’t have to prime a previously painted surface. However, this is true for most paints and varnishes.

While we didn’t expect the paint to perform exceptionally over darker shades, we did expect it to have a great coverage on similar hues. Sadly the product failed at this and although it isn’t any worse than other MDF paints, we feel the manufacturer shouldn’t mislead consumers with the ‘one coat’ label.

Consistency is another thing we didn’t like. The product is thick and hard to apply without leaving brush marks. Aside from this, Ronseal One Coat has the qualities of an average paint. It dries to a smooth satin finish, is tough and durable.

All in all, we do recommend using this paint as long as you’re aware of its limitations. Account for at least two coats and consider the use of a primer or undercoat on bare surfaces.


• Ronseal One Coat comes in 11 contemporary shades that compliment most kitchen cabinets, doors and other MDF or melamine objects.
• For a solvent-based product, this paint has a quick drying time. It touch dries in two hours and can be repainted after 16 hours.
• Tough and durable finish resists scuffs and scrapes. The white colour is available in either satin or gloss finishes.
• A litre of paint covers up to 8m² and in most cases, two coats are sufficient to achieve an ideal coverage.
• Ideal to use on MDF, melamine, chipboard and plywood.


• Adequate coverage requires more than one coat and an undercoat must be applied to bare surfaces. Not as advertised.
• Thick consistency makes it hard to work with this paint. Brush marks are a usual occurrence and a smooth finish may require sanding.
• The product has a terrible odour and is toxic. Do not use in poorly ventilated environments or if you suffer from allergies.

dulux primer & undercoat

High-quality undercoat suitable for various wooden materials, including MDF.

Dulux is synonymous with high-quality products, and their Quick Dry primer and undercoat for wood doesn’t disappoint. Suitable for a range of wooden materials, this product can be used on interior and exterior, new or bare surfaces.

Improving grip and coverage of paint applied over a darker shade, Quick Dry is also suitable to apply on previously coated surfaces – although most paint products don’t require a primer or undercoat in this case.

Supplied in 250ml and 750ml tins, Quick Dry covers up to 16m²/litre, depending on the porosity of the surface. Coverage is slightly lower on MDF due to the absorbance of the material.

Regarding performance, Quick Dry treats wood and improves paint’s adherence. On new and bare surfaces, it is recommended to apply two coats of primer while on previously painted surfaces one coat is sufficient.

Easy to apply and quick drying, this undercoat is convenient to use and comes at a more than fair price.


• Quick Dry stands to its name; it touch-dries in half an hour and allows for a second coat in two hours. We recommend waiting for 24 hours before applying an appropriate MDF or wood paint.
• Water-based formula is non-toxic and has a low odour. The product can be used in poorly ventilated environments.
• This primer is compatible with all application tools, including paint sprayers. However, brush marks may occur.


• Quick Dry primer for wood can only be applied on bare surfaces or water-based paints. It doesn’t adhere to (nor receive) varnishes.
• The colour is quite delicate and this often causes the use of more coats of paint to achieve full coverage.

Blackfriar MDF primer & undercoat

High-quality – but expensive – interior and exterior acrylic primer undercoat.

Blackfriar proposes an exceptional acrylic primer and undercoat for MDF that surprised professionals and DIYers alike. We admit this product exceeded our expectations too although its price is somewhat hard to justify.

The primer is ideal for interior and exterior use and it comes in two colours, white and grey. The light or dark undercoat improves paint’s coverage regardless of which colour the topcoat is, minimising the overall time and costs of the project.

Another great feature is the compatibility of the product with a number of surfaces besides MDF. In fact, this all-in-one product is suitable for bare woodwork and hardboard, dry plaster, cement and even masonry.

We also like the water-based formula of this primer. The product is environmentally friendly and non-toxic; it dries quickly and provides a perfect base for all water-based MDF paint systems.


• Excellent opacity and matt finish provide the ideal base for all water-based MDF paints, regardless of their finish.
• Quick drying formula makes it possible to shorten the length of the project. The primer touch dries in 2 hours and can be recoated in four hours.
• A great coverage power ensures that two coats are enough in most cases. A litre of primer covers up to 14m²/litre depending on the surface and porosity.
• This acrylic primer undercoat is compatible with all application methods, including sprayers.
• The product is supplied in 250ml, 500ml and 1L tins, giving users the capability to choose their perfect quantity.


• Due to absorbency, coverage is lower than expected on MDF. We recommend investing in surplus product.
• Compared to other acrylic primers for MDF, this product is expensive.



• MDF paint
• MDF primer & undercoat
• Sanding paper
• Painter’s tape
• Drop cloths


• Paintbrushes
• Roller
• Roller tray
• Paint sprayer (optional)


MDF is a versatile material. Sustainable, easy to work with and affordable, it represents a great alternative to expensive hardwood and is used in the construction of kitchen cabinets, furniture, worktops and for DIY projects of all kinds.

Painting MDF is easy but the highly absorbent surface benefits from proper priming. Here’s how to paint your surfaces, step by step:

Step 1 – Prepare the surface
Whether you want to refresh your MDF cabinets with a new coat of paint or just want to add some colour to a bare surface, the success of your project depends on proper surface preparation.

A new or bare surface needs minimal preparation that consists of slight sanding and cleaning. We recommend removing sanding dust and debris with a vacuum cleaner instead of a dry cloth. A previously painted surface may require more preparation, depending on the type and condition of the paint.

Water-based MDF primers and paints may not adhere to varnishes. Therefore, completely remove varnish and sand the surface before proceeding to the next step. If you’re painting over a compatible paint product, removing the old coat of paint may be unnecessary.

However, you still must remove any flaking or peeling paint. We also recommend at least a light sanding of the surface to improve adherence. Once sanded, clean the surface to remove all dust, debris and grease stains.

As with any paint project, cover all areas not to be painted with painter’s tape and lay drop cloths on the floor or worktops to protect the surrounding surfaces.

Step 2 – Prime the surface
Although there are many self-priming MDF paints out there, experience has taught us that all paint products benefit from priming. MDF is a highly absorbent material and proper sealing with a suitable primer or undercoat improves paint’s coverage and adherence.

When choosing the primer, consider the topcoat. Almost all primers receive acrylic paint but only a few are suitable for varnish.

The easiest way to apply the primer is by painting a trim around the perimeter to be painted, then cover the rest of the area. On narrow surfaces, such as window frames or door trims, use a paintbrush and work on small sections at a time using a sufficient quantity of product.

Leave the primer to dry and cure as instructed before applying the paint.

Step 3 – Paint the surface
Most MDF paints are compatible with all application methods. The quickest way to paint a surface is with a sprayer; this procedure is the most effective in terms of coverage but also the messiest.

If using paintbrushes or a roller, apply the paint following the same pattern you used for the primer. Paint the edges and corners first with a paintbrush, then switch to a roller for the rest of the surface.

Leave the paint to dry as instructed before applying a second coat if needed.