MDF Nightmare

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So this is not a MDF fuzzy question...it's an MDF "divit" question...

What is going on!?! I'm confused on why, no matter how many times I sand and sand and paint...there are little "divits" into the MDF...it's driving me nuts!!!

Any suggestions on this?

The only thing I can think of is to use a little bit of caulking to smooth it out...

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You could try some wood filler, very lightly coated, then sand and see if that helps.

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Spackle or wallboard mud is thinner than wood filler and can be feathered to microscopic thinness with the edge of a flexible putty knife or a credit card. Needs practically no sanding when it dries.

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Well...I think I came up with a solution... dry.gif

Prime MDF with Gesso

Sand

Paint MDF with color selection paint

Sand

Paint MDF with color selection paint

Add second coat of color selection paint

Sand

Paint MDF with new color palette because I'm already sick of the color I painted to the same panel 3 times!!!

(however, at this point, it's as smooth as I'm going to get it...unless I go for the putty knife caulking/spackel/wood filler options...)

P.S., can I just add how TICKED off I am at this...(DH) paid serious $$ for this house, ($$ that could have gone somewhere else...:unsure: ) and the house is WOOD INSIDE AND MDF OUTSIDE!?!:angry: That doesn't make ANY sense!!! ALL or NOTHING people!!! :angry:

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I feel your pain, I once built a MDF roombox; never again.

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That is one of the things I don't like about MDF. Sorry you are having such a bad time with it :(

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I'm currently painting a farmhouse jr and have encountered the same thing. Were you able to get a super smooth finish like you were looking for? I have been painting and sanding lightly between coats till I build up enough to get a nice even color and smooth finish. Takes time and patience. Fortunately I have both. Definitely not as easy as expected though!

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I have the MDF log cabin.! YUCK !!! Cannot stain MDF to look like wood, I really dont like the house at all.... If i had known it was MDF I would have never bought it.!

kellee

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Sorry to hear about all the problems with the finish. I'm on my 4th MDF (3 RGT and 1 DE) and did not experience that which apparantly a number of you have.

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Most of the paints that we use with miniatures are formulated to maintain the contours of the wood so that detail is not lost. That's why the paint sinks into the divots. It's a surface tension thing, I guess. My answer is to use wallboard primer or other paint that is formulated to fill sanding marks, etc. It is usually listed as a feature of the paint right on the can. With a light sanding it gives a really smooth base for top coat. I know one lady who swears by Zinsser as bare MDF primer, but I find it rather pricey.

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That's a good point, MaineYankee. I often use Behr interior semigloss, and can generally get a professional finish in two coats with a touch-up at the end. I have used gloss enamel, though, and spent hours scraping, flattening, and re-working... same with a few other brands I've tried. I use craft paints or "samplers" for small things, but the big surfaces get house-paint grade, or I regret it!

MDF is also finicky about when to sand... after the first coat: not before (or here come the fuzzies), and definitely don't wait until after two or more coats - by then it's too late! Sometimes, it seems like the first coat wasn't thick enough and I am tempted to slop on some more - that's a mistake! Sanding after the first coat right down to the wood gets it smooth.

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Raspberry,

You are on the right track. If you look in my gallery, my Painted Lady is MDF. I did what you're doing, and I think it turned out fine. Mind you, it's got divits in the finish, but hey, the siding is old and a bit worn. Once you get the paint on with the last coat, it's really not noticiable, and more than likely you're the only one who will notice. Don't give up! MDF is a challenge, but just think - if you can conquer this one, wood will be a cinch!

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Was just reading about the paint............. I use a satin finish Behr Paint, and I think it really helps to kind of 'smooth out' imperfections better than a flat finish. Just a suggestion. :bigwink:

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MDF is made of tiny wood fibers "glued" together and pressed. I've had a dresser drawer get little damp and swell up. When trying to sand it down, it just disintegrated. Can't imagine how it could react in the quite thin version used in doll houses! The right paint is vital, I'll bet!

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I also use good quality real housepaint in a satin finish and have had no problems. I've used both Behr and Valspar. It does take three coats, but it looks great when it's finished.

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If you treat it first with sanding/sealer it will ease most of these problems. MDF was originally designed for cabinets which are then veneered so does not play well as an exterior surface. Lets hope the manf. catch up on this and quit using this stuff instead of plywood. I would pay a little more for a kit that WASN'T MDF.

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I guess I was just lucky ...I built 4 RGT MDF houses with no issues. I like to take a piece of brown paper bag and "sand" with it between each coat of paint and I get a surface smooth as butter. When all else fails...Spackle !

I learned all I need to know about that from Queen Holly. :-)

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PS. Good quality real house paint helps a lot also. I buy the sample sizes from Lowes.

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I built an MDF house, and I applied interior house primer paint on the bare MDF first before sanding. I did not seem to have the problems that many others have said. AFter the primer, I sanded the surfaces. Then, I applied my first coat of the color semi gloss interior house paint. I gave the surfaces another sanding - not quite as heavy as sandiing the primer stage. I then applied a second coat of the selected color of semi gloss interior house paint. I did not sand that coat. Everything seemed to look great to me - but I am a beginner. The reason I chose MDF is because I did not want my house warping down the road in years. When I was a kid, I had a plywood house that did warp - but maybe the new plywood is better. MDF is harder to work with in the case of bashing or plugging in eyelets or brads.

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My only complaint about the mdf material is how heavy the house is. But, if you want a very sturdy house then its great. I sold several of my houses to people with kids and I am sure they will stand up to real play with them. I also like semi gloss "real" house paint and I always use the brown paper bag to smooth it down. It makes the surface so beautiful. I need to put my farmhouse on the turn table one of these days. :)

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My one experience with MDF cured me of any desire to build with it again; but I do like to bash!

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I am laughing Holly......it seems to me this debate about mdf or wood as been going on for years. I guess everyone has a different opinion and experience.
I like the lightness of the wood that GL makes because its so much easier to move around. Also you can alter it a lot easier. I like the sturdiness of the mdf because I am a klutz and I can't break it as easily and they are great for kids for this reason also. Now that I have tried pine, mdf and I don't know what you call the GL wood, each was fun to do in its own way. Happy building !!! :)

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Hi Amanda, I'm with Doc. I've been using Behr interior semigloss paint with primer. The first coat is a wee bit divot-y, but sand, and paint again, sand, and paint. It's turning out fine without filler/putty/spackle/caulk so I'm thinking it's the primer ingredients making the difference.

As for the MDF exterior and plywood interior, that is just strange. I have two RGT houses and they are all MDF. I wonder if they goofed at the factory? They usually charge a whole lot more for plywood parts than MDF parts.

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I applied interior house primer paint on the bare MDF first before sanding. I did not seem to have the problems that many others have said. AFter the primer, I sanded the surfaces. Then, I applied my first coat of the color semi gloss interior house paint.

That's what I do and MDF is my preferred material - it is heavy though. I use the Real Good Toys EL-66 tool for eyelets which allow you to drive them in with a hammer... quick and easy!

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