Painting MDF floor

During the Easter bank holiday, Jules and I committed to staying at home for three days whilst the rest of the family went down to Devon to celebrate (they took Otto, too) so that we could paint our floors. It was a mammoth job that covered our living room, kitchen and hallway that were all previously carpeted (except the kitchen where lino was laid). We had decided to buy a beautiful oak floor but after a £4000 quote we decided against it as we don’t plan on staying in this flat forever and other costs sprung up that took priority. However, it was important we got rid of the carpet, that I have always hated, as I can cope with nice, new, clean carpet but old, dirty, wrecked carpet is too much to bear (Otto is to blame for the wreckage!).

So, I impulsively ripped up the carpet in the hallway, saw that good quality MDF boards lay beneath, did a paint test and it worked! Decision made. Today, I want to share with you how we did it just in case anyone else out there is considering it to save themselves the cost of a new floor.

Sorry about the rubbish photos – when your hands are covered in paint it’s not very easy to take good shots.

Step one: Removing all furniture

This is the old carpet (shamefully dirty where the sofa was!). We had to put every single bit of furniture into the two bedrooms for the three days it took to paint.

Painting an MDF floor

Step two: Remove carpet and underlay

Painting an MDF floor

Step three: Lightly sand and hoover floor thoroughly

Doing a really light sand – we used a hand held orbital sander – helps the primer adhere to the MDF but it’s not entirely necessary.

Painting an MDF floor

Step four: Tape skirting boards and do two coats of MDF sealer/primer

It’s really important to use a sealer on MDF as if it absorbs water it swells. We used Johnstones MDF White Primerwhich acts as a sealer and primer. You have to wait about two hours between each coat as it is a quick drying paint.

Painting an MDF floor

Step five: Three coats of floor paint

Ideally I would have like to have painted the floor white but with a lot of traffic and a very muddy dog we decided it would be far more practical to go for a pale grey as this would disguise some of the dirt. We used International Floor Paint Palest Grey. This is a quick drying gloss paint so we only had to wait six hours between each coat (during which time we had to stay in the bedroom – a lot of box sets were watched!).

Painting an MDF floor

Step six: Wait three to five days to put your furniture back on the floor

We had to live in the bedroom for three more days, which wasn’t that fun, but worth it for the amount of money we saved.

Painting an MDF floor

I had always planned to buy a rug for the living room, which was easier said than done as I found it very difficult to find the perfect rug. However, after HOURS of trawling Etsy I finally found the perfect rug! I searched for ‘vintage Kilim rugs’ and they have an amazing selection.

Painting an MDF floor

And here is the finished floor with the rug…

Painting an MDF floor

Painting an MDF floor

Painting an MDF floor

I will show you the hallway in a separate post as it is STILL not finished as I’m STILL chasing the elusive perfect runner rug! However, for the last couple of months the new floor has been brilliant: hard wearing, easy to clean, water resistant, perfect blank canvas and makes the space feel so much bigger and brighter. Also, painitng it grey rather than white was definitely the right call as it does disguise a lot of the dirt. BOOM!

Katy x





  1. 16th June 2014 / 7:06 pm

    Wow, stunning! Really love the kilim too! Laura x

    • katy
      17th June 2014 / 3:24 pm

      Thank you, Laura! x

  2. 16th June 2014 / 7:20 pm

    Looks wonderful! And I’m so jealous of the light in your place. Looking forward to seeing the hallway x

    • katy
      17th June 2014 / 3:25 pm

      I am lucky with the amount of windows we have here. Hallway will be finished soon, I promise! x

  3. Katy (france)
    18th June 2014 / 7:10 am

    I followed this saga avidly on twitter! Love the result ♥ Oh and I have that trunk too, it’s in the garage waiting for me to have a house big enough to put it in!!

    • katy
      20th June 2014 / 10:38 am

      Ha ha! Love how you called it a ‘saga’. I have to say it did feel a bit like one after five days living in our bedroom!

  4. 19th June 2014 / 9:44 pm

    Wow! That’s quite a transformation. When I read your blog post title I wasn’t sure what to expect (painted MDF makes me think of school design & technology lessons from 20 years ago!) but I’m really impressed with the finish. Also I second the comment about the awesome rug – Etsy is a life saver!

    • katy
      20th June 2014 / 10:39 am

      Thank you so much, Kath! I know what you mean about the title – although your school must have been much better than mine as we only ever got to play with balsa wood;)

  5. Sharon
    25th June 2014 / 5:05 pm

    I stumbled across your pictures on Instagram.. Your home lovely so lovely. Your hard work has paid off! Thank you for some much needed inspiration. Xx

    • katy
      8th July 2014 / 11:50 am

      What a lovely comment, Sharon. Thank you! x

  6. 26th June 2014 / 9:22 pm

    Gorgeous! What a clever idea. The room looks great! Those hours between coats sound like aggesssss but the finished product looks so worth it. Xx

    • katy
      8th July 2014 / 11:52 am

      Thanks, Jo! It was quite a hard slog but we prepaed ourselves for it and actually it was quite relaxing in a way because we were forced to do very little. That doesn’t happen often so I quite enjoyed it! x

  7. Lorna
    12th July 2014 / 1:50 pm

    Hello just found your blog! Excited to find a UK based home design blog and love your style.

    Really feel your pain about the carpets, we rent our home which is a lovely victorian house and downstairs is all wood flooring which I love – but upstairs is sad dirty beige carpet 🙁 I love the look of painted floor and if we ever own a house am definitely going to reference this post!

  8. Lesley
    28th July 2014 / 11:16 pm

    What a great end result. The windows and light in your apartment is wonderful. Nothing better than sunlight in a home. I am following your blog from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada. Enjoy your ideas and look forward to seeing more. Always gives me inspiration for my home.

  9. Barbara
    16th January 2015 / 9:01 pm

    Thanks very much for the progress of your MDF floor project. We’ve just pulled an equally hideous carpet out of the bedroom to find MDF flooring beneath. It’s a big room and I certainly do not want more muck grabbing carpet. Wooden flooring will be very expensive so may follow your lead and paint the MDF then invest in some lovely colourful rugs.
    Found your blog checking how to paint an MDF floor. Great idea which is very inspiring and the finished floor looks lovely and modern. Thanks again for the idea and info.

    • katy
      19th January 2015 / 3:40 pm

      I’m so glad you have found it helpful, Barbara. It has definitely been the best decor decision we’ve made and has made such an enormous difference to the light and feel of the space. Good luck! x

  10. Mel
    18th August 2015 / 9:40 am

    Your floor looks really good. I was thinking to do the something similar in our home and finding your blog and technical advise is really useful and inspirational. I can’t wait to get started on mine now. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    • Katy
      19th August 2015 / 8:11 am

      Hi Mel. SO glad this is useful for you. Unfortunately, the International Floor paint has been discontinued as I think this is the most durable and doesn’t scuff as easily as other floor paints I have tried. However, it is very glossy, far more than Farrow and Ball, but I really like that effect as it bounces the light around the room. Also, once you add your furniture and rugs back to the room you barely notice the gloss. Hope that helps x

  11. 31st January 2016 / 5:27 pm

    Brilliant, the result is amazing !! And it really reflects the light a lot !

  12. 13th November 2016 / 2:50 pm

    Hey Katy,

    I’m seriously thinking of doing this in our bedroom and my boys room. Our dog has destroyed the carpets and personally I think carpets are unhygienic.

    Would you recommend this 2 years on? I love the idea but really don’t want to re-paint my floors every few months!

    Nell x

    • katy
      14th November 2016 / 11:30 am

      Hi Nell,

      I have never regretted it as having the hard floor painted compared to carpet is soooo much better. However, furniture (much more than people or dogs) does scuff the floor so I have had to repaint after about 18 months. But repainting is so much easier than the first time you do it. If I had the budget I would definitely replace the MDF floor with a real wood but as a super cheap alternative I could not be happier with the painted MDF x

  13. 21st January 2018 / 9:04 pm

    MDF always best chose, easy to paint and to maintain.BTW great photos!

  14. Rob
    27th March 2019 / 9:55 pm

    Katy , My son purchased a 6 x 5 metre log cabin from Norway (Tuin) three years ago , it has been used as a large store room ever since! He has now decided to make it into a proper room (with pool table).I originally put a MDF floor down , this last few months I have priced up various carpets/ flooring but the prices have come out approximately £300.So when I found your blog. I was amazed .Such a simple solution ( so why didn’t I think of this)THANK YOU.You have saved the day!

    • katy
      18th April 2019 / 7:20 pm

      Amazing! X

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *