How to Paint MDF Kitchen Worktops


My kitchen worktops are horrible and, for a long time, I’ve wanted to do something to them but wasn’t sure what. Changing the whole thing is quite expensive, so I thought I could have a go at some DIY solution in the meantime. They are the usual foil-covered MDF worktops with a satin black marble-like (if you can call it that) finish, with a few added scratches in case they weren’t ugly enough. My kitchen is quite small, so the dark colour doesn’t do it any favours.


I thought of painting it with floor paint a while ago, but after a quick Google search, most people didn’t recommend paint as a good option on a surface that gets used so much. The other week, I came across this page and thought maybe I could try to paint it after all. It looks rubbish already, so if the result isn’t great, it’s no big deal. The materials used were:

– fine sandpaper
– masking tape
– primer (preferably plastic-primer as the MDF is covered in a layer of plastic)
– paint
– paintbrush, small roller or sponge
– polyurethane-based clear varnish

First, I taped the corners with masking tape, sanded the surface down a bit, and gave it a coat of primer. Looking back, it might have needed either more sanding or an extra coat of primer to avoid having to do a million coats of paint.

Sanded surface
(There’s the cat having a nose in the bin, as usual.)

Coat of primer

In that website, they use oil-based paint. Being terrible at preparing things, I decided to do it on a Friday night and realised I didn’t have enough gloss paint to cover the whole thing up, so I used water-based wall paint instead. I think it’d take fewer coats with an oil-based one, but the upside of using wall paint is that the brush strokes are hardly visible. Again, this can be done with a little roller or a sponge. I ended up just using a decent thick brush instead.

The main problem here was keeping the cat off it. He has his food and litter tray in the kitchen and is a big fan of jumping on the worktop, so I had to do it in stages and only let him in the kitchen when I was home, which was a bit of a pain. Also, if you do it on a hot, sunny day, this wouldn’t take as long as it took me.

After the primer coat was completely dry, I applied a coat of paint, and waited for it to dry off. It took 4 coats to cover it up completely (the fact that it was originally black and I was painting it cream didn’t help either).

First layer of paint

Once the last coat of paint was dry, I sealed it with some clear polyurethane-based varnish. I got an “ultra-tough” version intended for wooden floors. It has a matt finish (well, it’s meant to be matt but it’s more of a satin finish), but you can use a gloss one if you want a shiny counter. After 3 coats (with at least an hour of drying off in between), this was the result:

Painted kitchen worktop - finished

It doesn’t look perfect, but at least it makes the kitchen look much brighter than before, and I used stuff that I had in the house already so it hardly cost any money.

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