General Question

Mama_Cakes's avatar

Would it be possible to paint your typical store bought aquarium stand made of mdf?

Asked by Mama_Cakes (11060points) September 12th, 2012

I’m not entirely sure what most companies use to paint their stands, but, I really don’t care for the black (mdf) stand look. I have a stand in mind, which, design-wise is aesthetically pleasing, but the hideous black has to go.

If it is possible, how should I go about it? Which paint should I use?

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13 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

It’s unlikely that you’ll find a paint that will adhere acceptably and durably to the melamine finish on your RTA (ready to assemble) stand. I worked for one of those manufacturers (for a brief, forgettable time in my career), and I know how hard the manufacturers work to make the finish completely stain-resistant.

You might try stripping it, but the edge finishing is what would give you real problems then. The edges of MDF and particle board won’t finish well in any case, and the stripping process would probably leave entire surfaces that are lumpy or pocked, making them even more difficult to smooth.

Finally, stripping the melamine surface finish paper (since that’s all it is, really) and the edge banding material would make the MDF board very susceptible to changes in humidity and water. Since you’re using this for an aquarium, it’s likely to get wet from time to time (and your paint probably won’t be as perfect a finish as the melamine and edge band on the finished / visible surfaces), so you’ll probably end up with unsightly and irregular swelling.

My suggestion would be to “use as is” or replace. I never heard of a successful paint job on that type of furniture.

Mama_Cakes's avatar


jca's avatar

I think primer would adhere. A coat of primer and then paint it as you like. I know someone who painted a cocktail table that was that MDF with plastic over it and it worked fabulously. Not sure what she used but it did work, and I think primer is what you should put down first.

tedd's avatar

I painted my MDF arcade, it required a pretty good layer of primer. Again that was straight MDF, not something that already had a coating on it like @CWOTUS is describing. So it is definitely doable. His advice is really good all around…. Just don’t sand it in doors. You will regret it.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

A good primer, then paint would work? No sanding?

josie's avatar

See above.
I have no experience with painting that material.
But if I had to do it, I would roughen the surface (not strip) just enough to give it some “tooth” and then I would put a couple of coats of KILZ primer on it. Then paint the color.
I can’t help but think, though, that by that time you would have spent more money on product and labor than the item is worth. But still, that is what I would do.

Kardamom's avatar

I’m assuming that you mean you want to paint over the black plastic laminate that is on the outside of the MDF (medium density fiberboard). Painting MDF directly is easy, you just use a coat of primer and then 2 coats of regular interior wall paint.

If you are wanting to paint over the plastic laminate, here is a site that gives you Step by Step Instructions

Here’s a slightly Different Technique using different products.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Yes. I paint all sorts of “unpaintable” surfaces & have successfully painted MDF.

The best advice I have is to let the coats of paint dry. Then, follow up with a few coats of a good clear sealer. That way the paint will stay on without chipping or peeling off.

dabbler's avatar

How about self-adhesive shelf ‘paper’?
But I like the above ideas for roughing up the surface and using a good primer…

augustlan's avatar

You absolutely can. For best results, you need to scuff up the surface (sandpaper) a bit, follow with a high adhesion primer, then a few coats of paint. You may or may not need to lightly sand between coats.

MDF is the wood-like substance underneath the laminate surface.

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Mama_Cakes's avatar

I’ve opted against it. Thanks for the help, though.

susanc's avatar

Just to be annoying, since this topid is now closed, you do not have to scuff up that laminate surface. All you have to do is clean the hell out of it so that there is Nothing on it except air, then use an excellent primer that the person at the excellent paint store will recommend, then use an oil-based enamel over that. Presto. I did my kitchen cabinets this way in 2003 and they look like IKEA did them in the first place.

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