Thursday, February 28, 2013

Conquering MDF Tongue & Groove Paneling

Since I posted about my new obsession with tongue and groove paneling, I thought I'd give a quick tutorial on how to prep and paint tongue and groove panels made out of MDF.

We've never really used MDF for anything before, but we were in Lowe's looking at wood tongue and groove options for another project and stumbled upon a rack of these:
They are EverTrue Pre-Primed V-Groove Panels, made of MDF. They are small (under 3 feet), but the 8-packs were marked down from $13 to $2.35! So of course we filled our cart. We had a 10% off coupon so they ended up costing us $2.11 for each 8-pack. It didn't take us long to come up with the first way we wanted to use them. We love the paneled ceiling look, so since these are short we decided to try them on the ceiling in our small downstairs hallway.

I didn't read about painting MDF at all until after I started this project. You know, I just dove right in with zero research and learned the hard way....as usual. Claaaaassic Jen [insert Target lady voice here]. Let me just tell you....this stuff seems easy. ITS NOT. I figured, oh I'll just slap some paint on them and put them on the ceiling. Wrong. Fortunately, at only $2.11/pack, this was a pretty inexpensive trial and error project, and I actually managed not to waste any in the process.

When you first take the panels out of the package they feel somewhat gritty. I tried wiping the grit off with a wet cloth...first mistake. The "primer" (or so they claim) started coming off and made it worse. For attempt #2 I tried just wiping them with a dry cloth to remove the grittiness. Didn't do the trick. Obviously. I feel like I should've seen this coming. So I took one of my favorite DIY tools ever, the sanding block...you've seen her here before ladies and gentlemen...
...and just lightly sanded them down. Then I wiped with a dry cloth. Perfect. Step #1 conquered. Now onto the next dilemma. Like I eluded to ten seconds ago, they claim these panels are "pre-primed," but they lie...they lie!
Source: NickMom.com (as seen on Pinterest)
I don't know what kind of crap primer they used but it is awful I tell ya, awful. I attempted just painting them without any primer. Mistake #3. Yup, I did a whole package of 8 with a coat of paint first. And it was a paint/primer combo even. Grrrrrrrr. It was unpleasant. The panels soak that paint up like a baby's diaper in a pool. So I learned, begrudgingly, that pre-primed MDF still needs to be primed. With good industrial-strength primer, not a paint/primer combo. I used Zinsser Cover Stain.

So after lightly sanding and wiping, I gave them each a good coat of my Zinsser primer. When it was dry I lightly sanded again with my best friend the fine sanding block and then again wiped them with a dry cloth. THEN, finally, I painted them. I used a mini roller instead of a paintbrush so the coat was even and non-streaky. It also made it 1000x faster than with a paintbrush. So purdy.
I lightly sanded between coats of paint:
And then the last very important part. I figured this out after a lot of hard journalistic research. Yup...I read the instructions on the package. What it says is that you need to leave the panels in the room where they are to be installed for at least 48 hours before installation. This is important, because we had some that sat in our hall for over 48 hours and were much easier to install than ones that had been sitting there for only 24 hours. Yes, we got impatient and tried to cheat....but the panels just laughed at us. They need to be properly "conditioned" to the space, so they must be left for at least 48 hours.


So here's the MadeWithLoveAndOats steps for conquering MDF Pre-Primed Panels:
1. Sand lightly with a fine sanding block and then dry with a cloth. (DO NOT wet them)
2. Give one good coat of primer.
3. Sand lightly with a fine sanding block and wipe with a dry cloth.
4. Paint 2 coats of semi or high gloss paint, lightly sanding and wiping in between.
5. Condition the panels by leaving them in the room for 48 hours prior to installation.

Pretty simple, and you get an amazing result...

1 comments:

Aunt Dot said...

Really admire your DIYness! Need to see a pic of the completed installation!

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