This topic has 9 replies, 9 voices, and was last updated 5 years, 9 months ago by EvanWRapp.

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    Hi all! I have a small side venture painting canvas backdrops and I’m looking to expand my current paint deck to a 15×30 floor. Of course, costs are always a concern. Looking at materials, I can get a good deal on 4×8 sheets of MDF (Medium density fiberboard). The surface is nice and smooth, and doesn’t warp like plywood.

    Anyone use these as a painting surface? Alternatives?

    Thank you!

      • Experience: 20+ years
      • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

      Member Member

      We paint all of our stage floors on MDF.

      I wonder about staples holding canvas down on MDF- it can be kind of crumbly….




      One place I work has a homasote deck and I love it! Even pnumatic staples come out with a staple puller relatively smoothly but tend to stay in under stress from the large drops we do.

      I also have bad feet so I love the softer feel.


        Member Member

        MDF is good for stage floors, but if you will be doing a lot of stapling homosote is the way to go. Soft, smooth surface and no warping.

         Angelique Powers
          • Experience: 20+ years
          • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

          Member Member

          I have learned the hard way that when stapling a drop down to paint onto mdf or maso that you need to use longer staples and a crap ton more of them or it could pullout half way through sizing.

           Ellen Jones
            • Experience: 20+ years
            • Scenic Status: Part Time Freelance

            Our stage floor is MDF and the top layer tears when wet or when spike tape is removed. I think it would not be a long life for a paint deck and end up costing more money in the long run, even with bogus under drops. Also I have found it absorbs water, even with bogus on wet treatments.

            Depends on the style of the bulk of your work, but it would not be my first choice for a paint deck.


             Carole Payette
              • Experience: 20+ years
              • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

              About 10 years ago the theatre I work as charge at bought a building to use as an offsite shop. At that time we installed an MDF deck over cement floor. We generally keep it covered in plastic of some sort, we even use painters plastic under drops. It has worked very well for us. we have had to bondo a few spots that got gouges from moving heavy scenery around and needed to replace a couple pieces from water damage from a large spill, but I think it has worked well.


              Thanks, everyone. I’ve heard about homasote before, so I looked for some locally (Atlanta). However it appears to be a special order item at $40/sheet + shipping. So ended up purchasing a piece of MDF and painted a couple pieces of scrap canvas on it to test it. It seemed work well, though screwing it down to a wood frame, I was surprised by how soft it is. The screws went halfway through before getting secure. I should probably just stick with plywood :).


              I use Celatex in my shop, which is probably a brand name. I bought it at a local lumber yard.

              In my shop in Denver, I used particle board. However, regardless of what you use, be certain to lay it out over your floor as though it’s in a brick pattern, not straight across. It holds together and doesn’t move when it’s in a brick pattern.

                • Experience: 5-10 years
                • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

                MDF is kind of a double edged sword. It works really well for some applications and others not so much. I would personally shy away from it for flooring purposes just because it isn’t very archival. It wants to chip and flake pretty easily when used.

                You could look into actual flooring material that is tongue and grooved. We used something called AdvanTech which is smoother than standard OSB and it clicks together.

                Other option might be MDO (medium density overlay) which is a standard plywood with a nice smooth layer of paper on top.

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