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Old 20th September 2009, 07:44 PM   #1
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Thumbs down Finishing options for MDF

What easy options are there for getting a reasonable-looking finish on MDF? I have neither the skill nor the patience for anything that will take many hours to complete, and I don't have a dust-free environment in which to work.

Given these constraints, I realise a showroom finish is unrealistic, but I would like my new speakers to look at least half-decent. The finished speakers will be constructed entirely from MDF, comprising four enclosures, two of 45l and two of about 10l which stack to make a pair of floorstanding speakers.
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Old 20th September 2009, 08:17 PM   #2
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Look here for an method that I've used to good results.
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Old 20th September 2009, 08:38 PM   #3
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Interesting technique. In your case psvavles I would try brushing an enamel type paint on and wet sanding with progressively fine w&d paper, then apply a polish.

The priming is key, a proper wood primer must be used as automotive primer is too thin and you will go through gallons of it. The edges or any exposed MDF will likely need a rub down and further priming.
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Old 21st September 2009, 05:46 AM   #4
preiter is offline preiter  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psvalves View Post
What easy options are there for getting a reasonable-looking finish on MDF? I have neither the skill nor the patience for anything that will take many hours to complete, and I don't have a dust-free environment in which to work.

Given these constraints, I realise a showroom finish is unrealistic, but I would like my new speakers to look at least half-decent. The finished speakers will be constructed entirely from MDF, comprising four enclosures, two of 45l and two of about 10l which stack to make a pair of floorstanding speakers.
Parts-Express used to carry some vinyl stick on finish that didn't look great, but it was cheap and easy and better than unfinished MDF. They don't seem to carry it anymore, but maybe you could find it somewhere else.

But really, the "easy" approach to half-way decent looking speakers is to use plywood and either edge band veneer or live with the way the plywood edges look. Then you can just rub on an oil finish and have really nice looking speakers with minimal effort.

Last edited by preiter; 21st September 2009 at 05:49 AM.
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Old 21st September 2009, 08:19 AM   #5
jerryo is offline jerryo  Isle of Man
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MDF is never going to look very nice by itself whether treated with varnish or any other clear finish.
Trying to acheive a "Piano gloss" finish will entail a lot of work and even if done well will leave you with a finish that can be ruined quite easily unless you are very careful with the handling and cleaning of your speakers.
One route that woud be clean and involve nothing more than some accurate cutting with a very sharp knife and a steel rule would be to use "iron-on veneers". They are available in different woods and can be very effective if done well. The veneer can be finished by applying a shellac based sanding sealer followed with a good quality wax and polished, or you can leave out the shellac and just use wax; this can be a very satisfying job as the more applications of wax that you use, the greater the lustre you can produce.
The baffle will be the hardest part to do, but this could always be finished in a satin black spray finish. There are some good spray's from a company called "Plastikote" which you will find at B&Q (lots of colours) You could of course use these spray's for finishing your entire speaker!
I think that iron on veneers are available from Wilmslow Audio if not then a Google search will tell you.
A well polished real wood veneer can look exceptional.
Hope this helps
Jerry
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Old 21st September 2009, 08:35 AM   #6
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You can use gray sandable spray primer available in a spray can at just about any hardware shop. It fills in small imperfections, dries fairly quickly, and can be sanded over and over if needed. It sticks to most anything that isn't greasy. In the attached pic it's adhered to vinyl simulated wood. I actually like the gray color itself and if the can is kept shaken up, the color comes out very even in a nice satin finish.
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Last edited by Andersonix; 21st September 2009 at 08:38 AM.
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Old 21st September 2009, 08:34 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I think I'm going to have a shot at an enamel paint finish. I had a good day yesterday, applying three coats of MDF primer/undercoat and sanding in between. The surface is becoming pretty smooth now and I'm feeling more hopeful.

I'm just working on the two small enclosures at the moment, until I'm happy with the results.
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Old 21st September 2009, 09:09 PM   #8
renfrow is offline renfrow  United States
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Several companies offer spray can paints that can coverup blemishes in the wood and obviate the need for fine painting skills. Rustoleum has their Hammertone series, of which I used their Forest Green Metallic, poor picture:
Click the image to open in full size..
PlastiKote (sp?) has their Fleck Stone series this in Hunter Green:
Click the image to open in full size.
Both were pieces of cake to apply and hide a multitude of sins .

Each come in a variety of colors.

Tom.
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Old 22nd September 2009, 05:01 PM   #9
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Thanks, Tom. I saw that Flekstone stuff in the diy store yesterday. Looks good.
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Old 22nd September 2009, 06:06 PM   #10
h@kan is offline h@kan  Sweden
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tosh View Post
You can use gray sandable spray primer available in a spray can at just about any hardware shop. It fills in small imperfections, dries fairly quickly, and can be sanded over and over if needed. It sticks to most anything that isn't greasy. In the attached pic it's adhered to vinyl simulated wood. I actually like the gray color itself and if the can is kept shaken up, the color comes out very even in a nice satin finish.
I used this method combined with regular white spray paint.

This will not give you a perfect finish but if you're short of time and patience it will do.
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File Type: jpg DSC_0713.jpg (19.6 KB, 263 views)
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