I want to paint my MDF cabinet doors- what can I use to seal?


My husband had a small grease fire in our kitchen. The heat from the fire melted and charred parts of the vinyl facing on the cabinets. I want to remove the vinyl facing and paint the cabinets so that they will still match the other white cabinets in the kitchen.

What would I use to seal the MDF prior to painting?

  7 answers
  • Alice Alice on Jul 11, 2018

    I don't know anything about that but I found a page where they explain in detail how to do everything you need done


  • B. Enne B. Enne on Jul 11, 2018


    Yes it can be done. It sounds like you have thermofoil cabinets. Just use a hairdryer or heat gun, to remove any stubborn piece. The "boxes" are probably melamine, and can be primed directly after scuffing them up (if you decide to do them too).

    You MUST prime the doors very well with a high adhesion primer, that is solvent-based, NOT water based, because water makes MDF swell.

    I personally like Zinsser BIN RED label. It is shellac-based. It is more runny than regular primer. I then cover with acrylic cabinet paint. You can use latex over this primer, just check the label first.

  • William William on Jul 11, 2018

    Painting MDF Thermofoil cabinets.


    • Jamie Jamie on Aug 02, 2018

      The vinyl does not stick to the cabinet, it is more like a vinyl skin that fits over them nice and snug.

  • B. Enne B. Enne on Jul 11, 2018

    p.s. You can bring a piece of damaged vinyl to the paint store, to colour match the white. It probably has yellowed and/or faded a bit over the years, and they can match it exactly.

    • See 3 previous
    • B. Enne B. Enne on Aug 05, 2018

      Hi again Jamie,

      Yes that is Thermofoil. It is shrink wrapped vinyl. Once it releases, it comes off easily. They are tight when new. But if you have pieces that haven't released completely, you will need to warm them a bit.

      In the pic below, the drawer just started to bubble. When I pushed on the middle panel it moved in and out, but the rest was still tight. Other parts have come right off in one solid piece. Some companies add glue to the edge, because once it separates air gets in and breaks the seal.

      If you paint over the vinyl it won't hold. You need to remove the "skin" as you call it.

      However, the cabinet boxes themselves are probably melamine, just like the shelves you buy at the hardware store. That is glued on tight, not shrink wrap, and should NOT be removed. You may even notice a colour difference between the cabinets and their doors/drawers. My cabinets had more of a yellow tinge compared to the doors after a few years, because it is not the same material.

  • Jamie Jamie on Aug 02, 2018

    Thank you!

  • William William on Aug 12, 2018

    Prime the MDF with Kilz primer then paint.

  • Jamie Jamie on Aug 14, 2018

    Thank you everyone. I will be working on these cabinets in the very near future.