Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How-To Paint Laminate Furniture: Part One

This is a project I've been wanting to do for a while - Painting laminate.  Many will tell you it cannot and should not be done but I beg to differ.  Painting laminate is really not that difficult, I think after painting knotty pine and fake paneling this project seemed like a breeze.  We all have something laminate sitting around in our house,  something totally useful but totally ugly.  We happen to have a laminate bookcase in our guest bedroom that we just weren't feeling anymore but also we were not ready to get rid of it (since that meant purchasing another bookcase).  So, I set off to paint it.  

First thing I did was remove the shelves so prep and painting would be easier.

I also subbed out a little of this work too, Mya was here to help again.  She sanded down the shelves for me and I did the rest of the bookshelf.  We just used a low-grade sanding block.  We didn't really sand too hard, just a little to rough up the finish a bit.

When choosing a primer I think I went out on a limb a bit.  I've read that when painting laminate you need an oil based primer specifically designed for laminate.  However, when shopping around (for a future project) I came across this Zinsser primer and sealer- it's water based, low-odor, formulated for many non-stickable surfaces and claims there is no need for sanding (Obviously we did sand just to be on the safe side).  Also, it cost significantly less than the other similar products I looked at - less than $10 for the quart.  I thought I could try this first and if it didn't work I would just find one that did.  

To my surprise though, it worked!  And, It worked well.  This primer stuck like glue to the laminate and made for a totally paintable surface.  It also dried super duper fast - in less than 30 minutes.  I painted two thin coats of primer in less than an hour.

You can see how well the primer turned out (minus a few scrapes I did after replacing the shelves, easily touched up) - I was thrilled at this point.  The only next step was to paint.  At this point, you can choose any paint you like to use.  I like Olympic Zero VOC and I chose to paint the bookcase white - I just used off the shelf white paint and we already have plenty of this from painting all of our trim, so I didn't have to get anymore - yay! for cheap yet awesome transformations.

I actually have another step to this project - the back of the bookshelf.  This one happens to have a cardboard back so I really didn't want to paint that part.  I didn't spend a dime on what I used,  in total I just bought the primer - less than $10 and I actually bought that for a different project, so you could almost say I didn't spend anything at all to redo this bookcase.  You'll have to come back tomorrow to see what I used and also see the finish product.  

Have a Great Wednesday! 


  1. Hmmm....I'm going to guess that what you did is something in textile in nature.....

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  3. You mentioned the paint was off the shelf white. But does that mean flat, satin, glossy or what? Just wondering cause I'd like to try this, too. Thanks for the lesson!

    1. Hi there, I would recommend satin or glossy when painting furniture - it cleans up better and is more durable! Hope that helps :).

  4. This post was very helpful in getting me started in painting my laminate piece. I even used the same primer you recommended. Based on your experience I got a question. You didn't say anything about using a top paint sealant, while I've read other people have. One recommended 3 coats of polycrylic. I am trying to figure out if a sealant is necessary. I also used a satin paint. How has your piece held up without it?

  5. Love the Bullseye primer!! I have used it on numerous occasions! Looks great!