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Can You Use Blackboard Paint on MDF?

Blackboard paint is great for creating a fun feature for kids or maybe even an artsy installation for adults. If you are planning on creating a new blackboard feature you will want the surface to be as smooth as possible to get the best results. So with this in mind you will no doubt think about using MDF to create your new blackboard, after all, it has a super smooth, almost polished, surface. But can you use blackboard paint on MDF? Well, there was only one thing for me to do, get one of my MDF samples out of the bag, grab a tin of blackboard paint and set to testing!

Painting Samples

So in order to test whether you can blackboard paint on pine, I did a little sample painting. I grabbed a few different samples of various materials and painted them all together.

Blackboard paint on wood
The samples

Here you can see all of the different samples I painted. If you are interested in the other tests then they were PinePlywoodChipboard and Fencing Timber.

Can you use blackboard paint on MDF?

Yes, you can. In fact, MDF is an ideal surface for painting with blackboard paint due to how smooth it is. The paint can be easily applied to MDF with little prep needed.

Do I need to sand the MDF?

No! Actually this would be a really bad idea. MDF is a very fibrous material. From the factory the surface is super smooth, making it the perfect surface to paint. As soon as you start sanding this surface you will ruin this smoothness and due to the fibrous nature of MDF, you will never get it back.

The blackboard paint sticks well to the surface of MDF, without needing to be sanded, according to my test. So there is absolutely no reason at all to sand it before painting.

Should I prime the MDF first?

According to my test, you do not need to prime the MDF first. I can’t see any harm in priming the MDF first so if you have the paint and the time then go ahead. However, I painted my MDF sample without primer and it worked great. The paint covered really well with only a single coat and has adhered well to the MDF surface.

With the blackboard paint being such a dark black it covers really well in just a single coat. Often with MDF, you will find the paint soaks into the surface because of how porous MDF can be. This did not seem to be a problem, again due to how dark the paint is.

The test

So now is the time to show you my test that allowed me to come to the conclusions above. If you have read any of my other painting articles you will no doubt be familiar with my methods.

I have a big bag of sample squares of all different kinds of materials. So I grabbed an MDF square from the bag and got to painting. I didn’t do any special prep to the MDF and painted it straight onto the surface.

MDF Painted With blackboard paint
MDF Painted With blackboard paint

Here you can see the sample and can also see just how well the paint covered the MDF. One problem is that you can see some leftover lines in the paint from brushing it on. A foam roller may be a better choice for a smooth finish.

The next stage of my test is checking how well the paint has stuck to the material. For this, I simply try and scratch it off with some rough timber. If the paint has not stuck well it will normally flake and scratch off really easily.

I can happily report that the MDF passed this scratch test with flying colours. This shows that the blackboard paint has thoroughly stuck to the MDF, at least for now.

Next Steps

The next stage of my test is to see how well the paint performs when left exposed to the elements. So I moved it outdoors to my sample testing pile and left it exposed to the elements.

The Blackboard Paint Sample Pile
The Blackboard Paint Sample Pile

I will check back on it in six months time. This will be very useful if you are planning on creating an outdoor blackboard. So make sure you check back for these regular updates.

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