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I wanted to build a small general use table for my kids but seeing that they are kids... it's going to get wet and that's a problem.

I have some leftover MDF that I'd like to use (just because it's left over) but I know I'm going to have to do something to really seal it.

Looking through the forums I've read people laminating, waxing, sealing and/or painting the tops to get some protection.  

My question is... I don't get it.

I know what laminating is (from a school/office point of view) but how is this done for a table top?  Same with waxing.  As for sealing... do they have oil based sealants?  If I prime/paint... will this be enough of a seal for the occasional drink spill?  

Thank you all in advance!

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I have three kids and I built them a table for them to work/play on and I built it out of pine. If you want to keep it from being damaged from moisture then you need to put a coat or three of polyurethane on it. That will keep your everyday kid spills from ruining the wood/MDF

Rick... so can I seal my MDF with polyurethane then? 

Steve, there are lots of ways to "finish" MDF.  Depends on what you like for your kids.

MDF is very vulnerable to spills, however.  Consider it about 2 notches better than cardboard.  The edges are the worst.

I would also suggest that you use a router to round-over the edges -- makes them much more kid friendly.  Edges could be sanded, but MDF dust is the worst.

MDF needs to be sealed before using water based paints and primers, as they will swell the MDF, especially the edges.  Shellac is a great sealer.  Either BIN white or SealCoat clear are great.  Allow the edges to absorb more.  Oil based primer sealers also can be used.

When dry, light sand, then apply any primer and paint you like.

Laminating usually means attaching laminate (Formica, Wilsonart, etc.) with contact cement.

I'm with Rick on this as it sounds as though he has more experience with MDF and finishes than I. I will add a bit more to his definition of laminating. It is the attaching layers of wood with adhesives and clamping them together. It is how I made the legs on my table. I took 4 1X4s and glues and clamped them. Then I cut the leg tapers.

My drill press table and router table I sealed with 4 or 5 coats of boiled linseed oil and leave them at that. Cabinet door panels I seal with either BIN or Cover Stain (both Zinsser products) and paint with a furniture grade paint. SW ProCoat or All Surface enamel. I'm sure other paint brands have equivalents, just make sure it's an enamel.

Thank you everybody for replying...

I've decided MDF is not good with kids and juice...

I have no router... any ideas/projects about what to do with 2 tabletop sheets of MDF?  

Pick up a router and build a router table??:)

Steve Kwon said:

Thank you everybody for replying...

I've decided MDF is not good with kids and juice...

I have no router... any ideas/projects about what to do with 2 tabletop sheets of MDF?  

Woodsmiths tip of the week to seal edges use spackel then paint won't soak in then seems like Poly or shlack should seal

Spackle does not ''seal'' the cut edges---

it only fills the voids and provides a coating.

After applying the spackle, a ''sealer'' should be applied.

A ''sealer'' and a ''primer'' are different.

A ''sealer'' will penetrate deeper into the wood fibers. 

Installing and ''edge band'', around the edges, will reduce the likelihood of the material separating, and prolong the life of the MDF.

Installing and edge band, should be done, AFTER the ends are ''sealed''.

I guess you didn't read my comment completly. The spackle seals the edge so paint doesn't soak in but the shalak or polyurathane seals from water damage.

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