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Which primer to use on bare MDF and tulipwood kitchen

Would your views on what primer to use on a kitchen I’m doing in a couple of weeks, my normal choice of primer would be cover stain which I use on most jobs, but this kitchen is made of Tulipwood and MDF and the kitchen company has told the customer it has to be a acrylic primer.

The job will be finished in Little Green oil eggshell, so was just wondering what you good people would recommend, should I stick with cover stain…go for Crown Acrylic primer (which I do use and like) or try Zinsser 123.

I can see why I can’t use the cover stain, the last time I painted a Tulipwood kitchen it was sprayed for me in an oil primer by the factory, so a little confused.

Many thanks


I’m confused too! 2 x coverstain, 2 x LG oil eggshell, whats not to like with that spec on that substrate combination?

I suspect you will have feedback from Tikkurila Otex users, which lays nice and flat.

I would be very reticent to suggest an acrylic primer unless I have seen the tulipwood kitchen delivered and assessed it’s condition. Now and again I have had humungous amounts of filling to do where Johnny Staple Gun boy has been out of control in the workshop and left his wood stopper at home too, and en route to site the delivery guy has gouged and dented stiles and rails, so, I have been glad for speccing CS and benefitting from the extra body of an oil primer.

Would be interesting to ask why they spec an acrylic for the primer ?

Well I spoke to the kitchen company today about which primer they wanted me to use.
The chap I was talking too said in the past they have had problems with the oil primers not sticking to the MDF !! and that’s why they recommend water based primers.

I told them I was going to use cover stain, and his reply was yes cover stain would be fine as its an American primer and the oil paints over there have a different make up as to ours over here !!

So unless someone on here can tell me why not to use it i will stick to what I know best and go ahead with cover stain.

One other quick question, do you tint / colour your primer for the second coat, to help coverage when applying the eggshell ?

Got to say I don’t as i find the oil eggshell covers fine in two, ( I always give the outsides a 3rd coat ) so never thought of doing so but was reading the other day where a chap always colours his primer even on the first coat.



Im a chap who tints their coverstain, no downsides except when client thinks it is the finish colour (only approximates the colour of eggshell, something to do with base.)

I can understand the kitchen company stipulating the spec if they delivered it to you pre-primed. Takes the heat off you if they spec the complete system! but to deliver it bare wood and specify acrylic, seems a throwaway bit of advice? I would go with your instincts - you are the painter, they are the joiners.

I can only see an adhesion problem arising if the primer is too thick. Coverstain should be fine.

Must admit we always tint the cover stain and thin it slightly, especially the first coat on bare timber.

Cover Stain for me. I’ve never had a problem with it adhering to anything, MDF included.

I’m a big fan of acrylic paint, but in it’s own place. I wouldn’t choose Zinsser 123 over Cover Stain for bare wood, laminate or MDF.

I always add Owatrol to Cover Stain for levelling and have found this doesn’t hamper the adhesion in any way.

It’s strange that zinsser recommends bullseye 123 in its booklet.