Tips for Paint Grade Doors

Advice on door materials, spackle, and paint techniques for paint-grade work. February 27, 2013

What are most people doing for painted projects? We still use maple face frame and doors and prime/putty and paint. This is very time consuming and I am looking for alternatives. What about MDF doors? The whole door or the panel only? We use SW finishes and painting is a pain. What is everyone else doing for painted projects?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor T:
I've been using 1/2-inch ultralight MDF for painted door panels for years. Can be glued in groove - less expense and labor all around. Poplar door frames and face frames.

From the original questioner:
The MDF machines well for r/p?

From contributor T:
Yes, MDF machines well with carbide cutters, not hss.

From contributor A:
Soft maple frames and MDF panels. The maple finishes easier than poplar. Use good quality MDF - Plum Creek or similar. It will suck in less of the primer on the machined surfaces. I use SW Opex primer and it works great on the MDF. But... either way, I think you're still stuck with prime, putty, and paint.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the responses. My painter likes 3M automotive filler. It takes a lot longer to dry but is harder than filler. What brand and kind is everyone using? Famowood?

From contributor A:
Muralo pro grade spackle was made by the putty Gods. Second best is the original Muralo spackle. Every other brand of spackle that I've tried has vinyl - do not sand hard. Build your product. Prime it. Spackle it. Sand it to 240 and paint it. Done deal. Do not waste time puttying before primer coat. Bondo is too hard and will show through the topcoat. Wood putty is either too soft or is too grainy to take paint well. Spackle and you can get a plastic type finish on maple/MDF.

From contributor R:
I am using full 3/4" or 7/8" CNCed MDF doors. Up here in Ontario, I am sourcing them from CNC Woodcraft. I was a bit leery of a full MDF door at the beginning, but love them now. Next to no sanding when I get them, no movement or panels, which was a huge issue for me with my previous paint grade maple doors I built. For finish I am using Becker Acroma's Matador series primer and pigmented lacquer. Love the product and consists of one coat of the primer with quick, easy sanding in 1 hour. Filling properties are amazing! 1 coat of pigmented lacquer and it's the best painted finish I have ever seen!