How can I get the flattest white surface?

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Forum topic by king_nickizzle posted 02-19-2016 02:19 PM 1055 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View king_nickizzle's profile


27 posts in 1547 days

02-19-2016 02:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: wood white flat mid century modern furniture question

I recently built a small filing cabinet, and painted it white. I chose to build with pine since it’s cheap and would be painted anyway. Unfortunately I can see accents of the wood grain through the paint. It almost looks like imitation wood siding.

I’m now building some more furniture that i need white, and want to see if there is a better alternative. MDF is pretty flat but I’m not sure how sturdy it is. Vinyl is probably another option but may seem kind of cheap. I suppose a planer might work, but I don’t have access to one so wonder if there’s a better alternative. I’m building in the mid century modern style so “flat” is a huge part of the design:


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10 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4854 days

#1 posted 02-19-2016 02:29 PM

I would expect MDF would be the easiest solution, although I share your concerns about strength.

The only way you are going to get the finish you want with pine (or most any other wood) is to build up a surface with grain a filler that can then be sanded back to dead smooth. It’s basically the same preparation method you would use if you were trying to create a mirror-smooth clear finish.

Another thought: If you have access to maple at a reasonable price, you might want to give that a try. I think you would find the grain much less noticeable than pine.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Alster's profile


101 posts in 3850 days

#2 posted 02-19-2016 02:34 PM

Home center poplar is smooth, flat, relatively inexpensive, and it takes paint very well. It has small pores that require little filling. Paint a coat; sand thoroughly—the paint fills the pores. Give it a second coat; you’ll be good to go.

Much sturdier than plywood or mdf.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4854 days

#3 posted 02-19-2016 02:37 PM

Good point… I forgot about poplar.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View mrg's profile


860 posts in 3635 days

#4 posted 02-19-2016 02:45 PM

Put two coats of good paint on and let cure. The grain is showing do to not enough of a build up of paint. Sand with wet dry sand paper 400-600 grit lightly, will come out super smooth. Doesn’t take much, use a sanding block.

-- mrg

View CB_Cohick's profile


493 posts in 1887 days

#5 posted 02-19-2016 02:50 PM

The borgs around here carry melamine, which is already white.

-- Chris - Would work, but I'm too busy reading about woodwork.

View greatview's profile


135 posts in 3793 days

#6 posted 02-19-2016 03:18 PM

Try MDO. Strong and dead flat surfaces. Waterproof too. Highway signs are made from MDO.

-- Tom, New London, NH

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5981 posts in 3129 days

#7 posted 02-19-2016 03:39 PM

MDO, poplar, or maple would all be good choices. The MDO surface may have slight waves in it (it did for me) but try this if you choose solid wood: prime it (maybe 2 coats) with Zinnser BIN primer, the shellac based stuff. Then sand it smooth and paint. The BIN sands out fairly easily, dries quickly so you aren’t waiting, and should give you a nice smooth surface.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View conifur's profile


954 posts in 1788 days

#8 posted 02-19-2016 03:51 PM

If painting wood, get a good stain blocking primer for your first coat, then paint it white.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View king_nickizzle's profile


27 posts in 1547 days

#9 posted 02-20-2016 04:02 PM

Thanks for all the great advice everyone! I’ve thought about Poplar myself, but figured that could add up quick. But you get what you pay for too, so that’s not so bad. I wasn’t familiar with MDO though, that sounds like a good choice too!

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5539 posts in 2945 days

#10 posted 02-20-2016 07:06 PM

Even cherry would work. I’ve painted cherry and being a tight grained wood it paints very well.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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