staining MDF?

marinesgirlApril 1, 2012

I am refinishing a craigslist find kitchen table. I stripped the finish/paint off the top using stripper and lots of sanding. Discovered table was pine. Then I started on the edges. The stripper did not work that well so I went right to sanding. While sanding the paint began to splinter and (long story short) the "paint" peeled right off. I didn't know that what I thought was a solid pine table is really a MDF base with pine veneer. Evidently the side veneer was much thinner than the veneer on the top. The veneer on the top is intact. But now I have a pine top with MDF sides. I was planning on staining the top (including the sides), but I have read that MDF does not take stain well. Any suggestions? I was thinking of either replacing the veneer on the sides or painting the sides to match the stain on the top as close as I can (dark walnut). Thank you in advance for any advice/suggestions!

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How sure are you that the top veneers are pine? I suppose it's possible, but I can't recall ever having seen pine veneer work.

It sounds like you just need to replace the edgebanding. If the corners are still sharp (i.e. you haven't rounded them over with the sandpaper) then you can get some iron-on edgebanding and stick it in place with a household clothes iron.

Edgebanding is a bit wider than the likely 3/4" thick top, so you'll have to trim it flush and soften the corners after ironing it on.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 5:34AM
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jon1270 - pretty sure the top is pine - is there another wood species that has large knots? Unfortunately the corners are pretty rounded over. The veneer that was there was already worn off around the edges - they were that way when I bought it. Not sure that edgebanding would work. The top is wider than 3/4". Looks like they took two pieces of MDF and glued them together to make the top. It is probably 1 1/2" thick. I think I'm either going to have to try the stain or paint it. Would wood conditioner help the stain?

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 8:37AM
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Every sort of tree has large branches, which means large knots; it's just that those parts of the tree are usually thrown on the scrap pile or used for something other than furniture.

Can you post a picture or two?

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 9:09AM
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MDF is easily painted. Staining is not a really good option. Also, painting the edges of MDF is different from painting the faces.

However, are you sure it is MDF---medium density fiberboard---and not chip board?

The edges of real MDF looks like many layers of paper and the faces are smooth and featureless.

Chip board is made by mixing wood chips with resins and binders and pressing the mix into sheets---that show the individual chips. Some chip board looks more like pressed sawdust than wood chips.

That is not stainable at all.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 1:07PM
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This place has wide edge veneer 1.5", although pricey. You can get 7/8" wide veneer locally.

Here is a link that might be useful: edgebanding

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 10:32PM
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