Best Primer for MDF – How to Withstand Humidity and Moisture

by James Antony | Last Updated: 6th October 2020

We use MDF for many types of projects. As compared to other types of wood, they are more cost-effective, thereby making them great choices for cabinets and furniture. However, the catch here is that they do not look anything like real wood. This is why a lot of people choose to paint them.

Thankfully, painting MDF is quite easy and straightforward, as long as they are primed and sealed properly. To make the job simpler, you can make use of these primer products mentioned below in our Best Primer for MDF Review.

Rust-Oleum Corporation 271009 Advanced Synthetic Shellac PrimerBest Overall

Rust-Oleum Advanced Synthetic Shellac Primer - Best Primer for MDF Review

Rust-Oleum Advanced Synthetic Shellac Primer


This Rust-Oleum primer is one of the top primer products if you are looking for something for your MDF. It is a stain-blocking product that is capable of blocking grease, crayon, graffiti, rust stains, and water stains. The primer easily sticks to surfaces like varnishes, glossy paints, and tile as well.

Best Primer for MDF

Best Feature

Apart from blocking stains, the Rust-Oleum also blocks odor like food, pets, cigarettes, cigar, and smoke. The primer provides excellent stain blocking for interior and exterior spot priming.

It is also commonly used to block stains for new constructions, water and fire restoration, and overall remodeling. However, it is not a great choice for finished furniture.

  • This is one of those primers that work on plastic surfaces too and offers a smooth finish
  • Capable of removing any type of odor effectively
  • The product is very affordable
  • The primer can be used as a base for almost everything
  • Does not work well to prime finished furniture

KILZ Original Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Interior Oil-Based PrimerBest Pricing

KILZ Original Multi-Surface Oil-Based Primer - Best Primer for MDF Review

KILZ Original Multi-Surface Oil-Based Primer


This primer by KILZ is consists of a powerful stain-blocking formula that is capable of blocking interior stains like grease, felt marker, pencil, ink, tannin, smoke, and water. Additionally, the company has been around for more than four decades now and is trusted by professionals all around the world.

Best Primer for MDF

Best Feature

The KILZ primer is a good option for MDF wood, simply because of its great adhesion and sealing properties that help the paint stick to the surface.

Apart from MDF, it can also be used on glossy surfaces, painted metal, brick, masonry, wallpaper, paneling, plaster, drywall, and wood. Additionally, it also dries out within 30-minutes. It is best used with a sprayer.

  • All you need to do is apply a single coat for painting MDF
  • The price of the product is affordable
  • The drying time of the primer is 30-minutes
  • Cannot be used with brush painting as it tends to leave brush marks on the MDF

Zinsser 00904 B-I-N Pigmented Shellac Primer-Sealer & Stain KillerBest Adhesion Property

Zinsser Pigmented Shellac Primer-Sealer - Best Primer for MDF Review

Zinsser Pigmented Shellac Primer-Sealer


The Shellac-based stain killer, sealer, and primer product is a great product if you are looking for something that will help you spot prime interior surfaces of MDF furniture. It has been made for house primers and painting supplies. The product is manufactured in the US and a bit on the expensive side.

Best Feature

The Zinsser primer has great adhesion properties, which allows it to stick on glossy and smooth surfaces like glass. It is also capable of blocking persistent and stubborn stains like markers, pens, and water.

It is capable of sealing porous surfaces and has a great enamel holdout, helping you seal sap streaks and bleeding knots as well. The primer also blocks all kinds of odor and becomes dry within 20-minutes.

  • The primer can be used with all types of surfaces like MDF, water-damaged wood, etc.
  • The consistency of the primer is nice and thin, offering you a smooth finish
  • The product can be applied on wet surfaces as well
  • The primer blocks all types of odors
  • The product is expensive

Best Primer for MDF – FAQs

What is MDF wood used for and what are its benefits?

Before diving into how to use a primer for MDF, we first need to understand what it is. MDF, or medium-density fiberboard, is a wood product that is engineered with wax and wood fibers. This is done under heat and high pressure.

Thanks to the small wood fibers, MDF has a very smooth surface. The material is also quite easy to paint and can be used for almost any type of furniture. MDF does not have any visible grain and is a great choice if you want to make cabinets and furniture without pattern matching. As compared to other options like plywood, MDF tends to be denser and cheaper.

However, MDF has one key disadvantage – it does not react well to liquids and moisture. If it gets wet, the material starts expanding. Hence, it is advised that you do not use MDF in kitchens and bathrooms.

How do you prepare for painting MDF?

You first need to check whether the surface of the MDF furniture has started to de-laminate. If you see the top surface starting to peel, stick it back down with strong glue. You then need to use a fine sandpaper and lightly sand the entire MDF piece.

Look for chipped edges, bashed corners, and dents and keep sanding them. Sanding will allow the primer and paint to bond properly to the MDF surface. While sanding, ensure that you are doing it in a well-ventilated room. Also, wear a face mask and eye protection.

Once the MDF furniture is ready, you need to apply two coats of primer. This will provide the furniture with good lamination and paint will stick more effectively.

What type of primer should you use?

For MDF, the primer needs to be solvent-based. This means that the base of the paint needs to be alcoholic or oily, rather than water. For the paint job, you can use acrylic and latex paints. As mentioned above, MDF absorbs water and swells up. This is why you need to use primers to that the fibers do not swell up.

Best Primer for MDF – Final Thoughts

Staining, painting, or varnishing your MDF plywood will ensure that your project can precisely withstand humidity and moisture. All you need to do is ensure to follow all the protocols and choose the right paint type. If you feel overwhelmed with the task, you can even get the help of professionals for the job.

Did you like our Best Primer for MDF review? Please comment and check our other reviews – Best Primer for Pressure Treated Wood Review could be interesting for you.

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