How to Paint Laminate Furniture (including IKEA)

If you love fixing up and hacking furniture, that is likely to include some laminated items. But how do you successfully paint laminate furniture, including IKEA products? This post will show you how to paint laminate furniture, so it looks the best it possibly can!



When you are fixing up and hacking furniture, it isn’t always wood furniture that you are going to be dealing with.  A lot of the time you will want to fix up a laminated item, such as a chest of drawers, dresser or more.  

But painting laminate furniture can be difficult and it doesn’t always produce great looking results, unless you prep it and prepare it properly beforehand.

A lot of IKEA furniture items in particular, that are fantastic to hack, are laminated. Therefore, you will especially find this post helpful if you intend taking on some IKEA hacks.

This post contains affiliate links. You can view my disclosures here.


The Challenges of Painting Laminate Furniture

Laminate furniture has a plastic glossy surface to it.  That glossy surface is hard to paint, as it can be hard for paint to adhere to it.

Therefore, instead of you being able to paint directly onto a piece of laminate furniture, you will need to do some prep work first.

Take Precautions doing DIY Work

Most DIY projects, especially those involving sanding and painting furniture, can give off dust and fumes, so take precautions and protect yourself accordingly.

When you are using anything that produces fumes, such as paint, do it in a well ventilated area. Outside is ideal if you can.

Sanding can give off dust that can also get into your lungs, therefore try to wear some kind of mask protection over your mouth to protect you (this will also help with fumes too).

See the ultimate list of IKEA hacks here

Prep your Piece First

The item you are going to be painting needs to be completely clean, and free of any grease, dirt and stickiness. Especially if it is a second hand item, make sure there is nothing on it, such as old tape and spots that can affect the paint finish if they are not removed.

Clean it down first completely. This product here is great for getting dirt, grime and glossy coatings off that piece of furniture. Make sure it is completely dry before moving on to the next stage (detailed below).

Sand First

Sanding will break the surface of the laminate, so it is a good idea to try to sand down your piece of furniture before priming it.

Sand it using either an electric sander, or sand by hand (an orbital sander is a good choice for this).  150-grit sandpaper is a good grade sandpaper to use to sand down laminate.

Make sure that you brush down and wipe down the piece after sanding, so there is no dust remaining that can affect your finish.

Use a Primer First

A good primer will prep the item you are intending to paint with a great base prior to its final painting. It will prepare the surface to be much smoother to paint over. This Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 Primer is actually the ideal primer to use.

A primer, applied correctly, will create a great smooth and level base on which to apply the paint that you will be using.  

You may want to apply the primer with a roller, rather than a paintbrush. A mohair roller would work well for this. A paintbrush is good for getting into the corners and tight spaces that you may have. 

I recommend two coats of primer, to really get that smooth even surface that you need. But make sure each layer dries first before applying another layer. Leaving it overnight during each layer will really make sure that the paint is cured between layers.

If after one coat of primer, your item still has some laminate remaining or breaking through, you may want to do another sanding prior to applying another coat of primer. But remember to wipe down afterwards, so that no dust is remaining.

How Many Coats of Paint do you Need?

Once you have applied your primer paint, and it is fully dry, you can then apply the paint that you intend to use on your furniture piece or item.

I would recommend using at least 2 coats of paint over the primer.  Do those 2 coats one at a time, and allow each coat to dry before putting on another coat. Once again letting each coat cure overnight is a good idea to ensure it is completely dry.

If after putting on 2 coats of paint you still do not like the look of the item, then apply another coat.

I again recommend using a roller to apply the paint, rather than a paintbrush, to get a more even finish, with no brush strokes visible on your finished piece.

Just remember that paint takes about 30 days to completely fully cure. So once you have completely finished painting your piece, bear that in mind for whatever use you have for it.

The Correct White Paint to use for IKEA White Furniture

Many IKEA furniture pieces are white laminate, therefore you need to find a good white paint to match the original piece in many cases, if you want to carry on painting that piece white.

There are many options for the correct ‘IKEA’ white paint floating around.  Acadia White OC-38 by Benjamin Moore, Clear Moon PWN-30 by Benjamin Moore, Valspar 7002-8, and Parchment White by Glidden are all white paints that I have seen recommended for white IKEA furniture.

The best thing is probably to pick up paint swatches, including for those colors mentioned above, and compare them to the white piece that you are trying to paint.  

But if you really want to be sure, remove a part of the piece (the smallest piece that contains the white color to match to that you can carry), and take it to your local hardware store to do a color match. Most larger hardware stores, such as Home Depot, Lowes etc, will do color matching. That way you can be sure that you get a good match.

The Best IKEA Products to Hack! 

Painting laminate furniture need not be difficult, as long as you follow the correct steps, and prep and prepare the surface of the piece you are trying to paint first.

Laminated pieces can be painted beautifully and turned into something spectacular, so be prepared to put in a little work to get that piece of furniture painted and finished!


If you love fixing up and hacking furniture, that is going to include some laminated items. But how do you successfully paint laminate furniture, including IKEA products? This post will show you how to successfully paint laminate furniture, so it looks the best it absolutely can!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *