Suitable Surfaces for Acrylic Painting. A five part series. (Part Two)

Part 2 MDF and  Masonite

MDF and Masonite belong to the hardboard family of products. Both are a well suited surface for painting. Some artists even prefer MDF or Masonite over canvas.

MDF is short for Medium-Density Fibreboard. It is a newer type of hardboard product and quite similar to Masonite. Masonite is actually a brand name of hardboard. Its name derives from William Mason who invented the product in 1924.

 MDF and Masonite are made through a similar process. Both are made of broken down wood fibres (sawdust) that are formed into panels using glue, heat and pressure. Unlike Masonite, MDF does contain harmful chemicals to produce that can be harmful when inhaled. Always take precautions and wear a good dust mask when sawing or sanding MDF. The fine, powdery dust particles produced after sawing and sanding do invade every surface around you and can hang around in the air for some time. I strongly recommend to saw and sand outside.

Prime all sides and edges of the board before sanding to help prevent any harmful chemicals from inhalation.

When it comes to choosing between MDF or Masonite, for the purpose of art painting, they are one and the same.

 ” Owl” Painted on MDF                    “Bunny Crossing” Painted on MDF Plaque

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I personally prefer to paint on MDF as I’ve had a lot of experience with it over the years. It’s very versatile and easy to work with. It is actually my favourite surface to paint on.

“Mannequin” Painted on MDF                        “Lady’s Boot”  Painted on MDF plaque

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So for this post I’ll mainly be focusing on the advantages and disadvantages of MDF.


The Pro’s for MDF are;

MDF is available in an assortment of different sheet sizes and widths.

If you’re after a cheaper alternative to canvas, MDF is the perfect choice.

MDF has a smooth and dense surface.

It comes flat, has no knots and is easily machined.

There’s no grain to contend with when cutting or sawing MDF as opposed to natural wood.

Its smooth surface is great for fine detailed painting.

MDF is one of the most popular and preferred surfaces for decorative painting.

Easily routed, allowing you to create decorative designed edging.

Easy to frame as there is no stretching involved as opposed to canvas.

MDF comes readily available to use for all hobby applications.

Available in a large range of cut outs forms from major art and craft stores in Australia.

Great for DIY projects.  Can easily be cut and drilled by the home handyman.

Gesso is also a great primer for MDF.

 Has great tooth.

MDF is an excellent surface for high gloss varnishing.

 And the Con’s;

Generally comes un-primed.

Larger sheets of MDF can easily bend and warp.

Larger sheets can be heavy.

The edges and especially corners are easy to crush when dropped

Don’t let MDF get wet. When exposed to moisture, MDF will typically swell, warp and split.

I know I’ve said it before,


Prime all sides and edges of the board before sanding to help prevent any harmful chemicals from inhalation. Always wear a good dust mask when sawing or sanding.


Happy Painting,


3 thoughts on “Suitable Surfaces for Acrylic Painting. A five part series. (Part Two)

  1. Pingback: Experiment with creative materials | Effie Carayannis

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