Fixing MDF panels to the side of kitchen units

Discussion in 'Builders' Talk' started by Tom O, Dec 2, 2020.

  1. Tom O

    Tom O Member

    My partner wanted our new kitchen to have that classic look - so we bought some MDF tongue & groove panels and I trimmed them to size and and had them sprayed up to match the colour of the units.

    Now I've come to fixing them, and not sure of the best approach. Some of the boards are slightly curved so it would need a strong fix to prevent them bowing. I can see three options -

    1. Glue them
    2. Nail them
    3. Both glue and nails

    I'm not an expert on adhesives, but some internet research has suggested gripfill or similar. However, this is described as 'gap-filling', but the sides of the kitchen units and the back of the MDF are really smooth and they would need to bond with virtually no gap at all, or it would look odd from the front. The glue can't just disappear so will this leave me with a few mm of gap between them? What about contact adhesive or something else?

    Alternatively, I can borrow a nail gun from a friend, but I'm a bit worried that this would leave fairly conspicuous holes in the panels, or if I nailed through the grooves it might just rip straight through the boards since they're only quite thin.

    Has anyone done anything like this?

  2. Jord86

    Jord86 Screwfix Select

    Use expanding foam via an applicator gun, clamp the edges and strut the panels until the foam has gone off, about three quarters of an hour to be certain. You could also use clear silicone, but it would take hours to go off.
  3. Wayners

    Wayners Screwfix Select

    Glue and screw from the inside. Screws where they can't be seen if possible near hinge and under shelf edges if possible. Polymer grab mastic but tiny amounts of glue or it will pack it out.
    ramseyman likes this.
  4. Tom O

    Tom O Member

    Thanks both.

    Wouldn't foam create the gap I'm trying to avoid? Though I guess good clamping should minimise it.

    What's an example of a polymer grab adhesive? I wondered about screwing from the inside but wasn't sure I'd get enough thread engagement to hold them well enough.
  5. Bob Rathbone

    Bob Rathbone Screwfix Select

    I screwed mine on from the inside as Wayners suggested. Drill a hole for the screws in the cabinet and clamp the side in place during fixing. No glue required.
  6. Tom O

    Tom O Member

    Cheers Bob, were yours 9mm MDF?
  7. Jord86

    Jord86 Screwfix Select

    The very reason I suggested foam or silicone is because I knew they would be 9mm MDF which is too thin to secure by screws through the back of the units. If you clamp battens to the edges and wedge a strut into the middle of the panel it will be fine.
  8. Tilt

    Tilt Active Member

    @Tom O
    Lightly sanding the melamine surface will give for better adhesion of any glue you use.

    With mdf I would probably use no nails type adhesive... I'm assuming you haven't painted the backs of the mdf.
    Wilko Instant grab powerbond adhesive is great stuff. It will need clamping but goes off pretty quickly.
  9. metrokitchens

    metrokitchens Screwfix Select

    Just stick them on with a good squiggle of grab adhesive. Use one that is not thick and stiff. Even silicone will do the job fine but will require supporting for longer.
  10. Tom O

    Tom O Member

    Thanks all

    Sorry I had meant to state up front that they were 9mm. OK thanks it's looking like I'll go with this method, though some of the units will be tricky to strut - see photo.

    Not had the backs painted except for a short distance to make sure the edges are covered. Was going to score the backs with a knife or something to add a bit of key - good shout on sanding the melamine.

    Any suggestions for a grab adhesive that is fairly thin? I've never used the stuff before. I'll probably try a test one with some spare boards to compare foam to grab.

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  11. I-Man

    I-Man Screwfix Select

    Solvent free Pinkgrip is good stuff I find
  12. Tilt

    Tilt Active Member

    Well, just a personal opinion but I hate Pinkgrip.......... after I was given it by the contractor and it may not have been suitable for that particular application. I didn't like how it came out the tube and fell off of the substrate. Didn't seem very sticky.

    @Tom O You don't need a 'thin' grab adhesive. It is easy to use sparingly if necessary, and you just wiggle the piece to be glued to spread the adhesive underneath, which gives you a good 'instant grab', or use a wall tile adhesive spreader if you like....
    The wilko stuff I mentioned is great, and good price.
  13. Mr Rusty

    Mr Rusty Screwfix Select

  14. stevie22

    stevie22 Screwfix Select

    Isn't this a case for good old Evostick or similar or is that too old fashioned?
  15. Tom O

    Tom O Member

  16. stevie22

    stevie22 Screwfix Select

    Just so.
  17. Tom O

    Tom O Member

    I looked at that but didn't know if it would stick too fast with no adjusting time, or indeed if it would be sticky enough.
  18. stevie22

    stevie22 Screwfix Select

    No adjusting time but instant grip so no clamping.
  19. Tom O

    Tom O Member

    Thanks for everyone's help - if anyone has the same question in future, I glued with Gripfill then clamped the fronts and braced the backs as suggested. Then (very carefully) screwed through from inside to try and pull them tight. There wasn't much thread engagement, maybe 5-6mm but it definitely helped. Some of the units were impossible to brace so the screws saved the day there.

    I don't rate gripfill, doesn't seem sticky at all so switched to the Geocell that was suggested which seemed better, though I think slower drying. Having said that the gripfill ones haven't fallen off so I guess it's alright.


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