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What if you want to paint your furniture and it looks like wood but is not real wood? Having no idea how to paint laminate furniture without sanding can become a problem. This is because your DIY projects turn into a mess with sheets of peeling paint. However, with a few modifications, you can paint laminate furniture and cabinets in a simple way.

Painting laminate furniture is a great way to enhance its style. If you refinish your furniture instead of purchasing it, you can often save a great deal of money. In my experience, painting wood furniture is one of the most effective ways to refinish it. However, sanding is a messy and time-consuming step. But don’t worry, in this blog, I’ll share the tips and my experience that I learned throughout the DIY process.

How to paint laminate furniture to look like wood

Step 1: Always Clean Before Painting Laminated Furniture

You can paint laminate furniture without sanding, but first you need to prepare the surface. After that, you can remove dirt and oily coatings from the surface using a Krud cutter, deglosser, mineral spirits, or rubbing alcohol.

Please note: Apply the deglosser with a lint-free rag while wearing rubber gloves.

If you apply the deglosser, wait for the recommended amount of time on the label and wipe down with a wet rag. Each brand may have slightly different instructions, so follow them carefully.

painting laminate furniture or dresser

In my case for painting laminate dresser, I had removed all hardware and screws from the dresser.

remove hardware and screws to paint ikea laminate furniture

After that I cleaned the surface as I always do before painting, so I did the same with this laminate dresser. I’m using a crud cutter on this dresser because I like how it works. This dresser was not painted correctly when I first painted it, so I did the makeover to make it look better.

I put down a drop cloth and used citrus stripping varnish as a stripping agent to remove the paint on this dresser. You can simply apply citrus strip with a brush. It is not recommended to strip pieces with a lot of grooves.

I actually recommend using a real brush not a foam brush. After applying it to the surface, let it sit for a few minutes. I only had a couple of layers of paint on the top of this dresser so it started working pretty quickly. You’ll notice that it starts to wrinkle up or bubble up when it’s ready to be scraped off.

dresser bubble up after using scraping agent to apply primer on laminate

I used a plastic scraper to remove the paint and then apply Krud cutter to clean off the residue again on the surface.

used a plastic scraper to remove and clean the laminate surface

Do you need to prime laminate furniture before painting?

Yes, you can use a roller, brush, or sprayer to apply a coat of primer that is designed for laminate surfaces. Be sure to paint thin coats of primer to prevent dragging. Also, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.

Some users prefer priming via rolling to avoid brush strokes and to get a smooth finish. However, if your furniture has grooves, you might need to use a brush where a roller cannot reach.

Get more information about repairing and restoring chipped furniture.

Step 2: Prime The Surface To Spray Paint Laminate Furniture

The next step is to prime the laminate dresser with a primer specifically formulated for laminate surfaces. Also, it is important to consider what kind of paint you will be applying over the primer. In this way, the paint will adhere better and you will achieve a more professional look.

Since I wanted to use latex paint for laminate furniture makeover, a water-based primer would be best to ensure an even smooth finish.

I applied two coats of primer and waited for the first coat to dry for about 45 minutes. After completing the second coat, I simply let it all dry overnight.

What primer should You use on laminate furniture?

I needed a primer that would adhere to laminate surface and it should be compatible with latex paint for painting over laminate furniture. According to my research, Zinsser offers three primer options:

  • Zinsser BIN Primer

Zinsser BIN Primer is a Shellac-based primer-sealer which is used for interior and exterior use including laminate furniture and cabinets. It does not require sanding to adhere well to any surface. Upon drying, you can recoat in 45 minutes.

  • Rust-Oleum Zinsser Bulls Eye Primer

Water-based primers like Rust-Oleum Zinsser Bulls Eye provide excellent adhesion indoors and outdoors. This acrylic formula has low odor, smooth flow, and corrosion resistance which is suitable for high humidity environments. I recommend it for projects related to wall priming.

This Zinsser primer requires sanding before adhering to laminate furniture, and its curing time is longer. Most paints are quick-dry and can be top coated within an hour of applying them.

  • Zinsser Oil-Based Primer

Zinsser cover stain primer provides good adhesion. According to my experience, latex paint should not be applied over oil-based paint or primer. In spite of this, you can use this primer with both oil-based and water-based topcoats. The purpose of it is to block stains, conceal dark colors, and prepare the surface for the finish coat.

best primer for laminate furniture

I wanted to make my project as simple as possible, so I chose a Zinsser BIN shellac-based primer because it offers a good combination of adhesion, having fast drying time, and no need to sand it before painting latex over it.

best primer for laminate furniture

After applying the primer, let it completely dry as instructed by the manufacturer.

Step 3: How to Paint Laminate Furniture

Can you paint directly onto laminate?

Yes, you can paint directly on laminate furniture, but you’ll have to prepare the surface properly in order for the paint to adhere well. As I have already cleaned and primed the surface, so I don’t need to make some special preparations for painting laminate furniture.

The best thing to do is apply two thin paint layers rather than one thick layer. In this way, you will achieve the smoothest finish possible.

In a few hours, I have completed the job by applying another coat of paint and then after each coat, make sure it has dried completely.

Tip: As I was painting the drawers, I first used a brush to get into all the grooves and then used a foam roller to smooth things out.

Check out the image below, that the latex paint adhered well to the BIN primer after being applied.

paint laminate furniture

After that, you can use a clear sealant that will protect and shine the paint after it has dried.

Despite being painted, laminate furniture may not have the same finish as solid wood furniture. However, it is possible to freshen up your laminate furniture with careful preparation and application.

I use this laminate dresser as a sideboard in my dining room after transforming it into a gorgeous sideboard!

Quick Summary For painting laminate Furniture, Cabinets or Dresser Without Sanding

  • Clean before spray paint laminate furniture or other surfaces
  • Use best primer to stick on laminate furniture
  • Paint over laminate furniture

Quick Summary On How to paint cheap laminate furniture (With Sanding)

  • Sand the laminate surface
  • Clean the laminate furniture or other surfaces
  • Use best primer to stick on laminate furniture
  • Sand after priming the laminated surface
  • Clean before spray paint laminate furniture or other surfaces
  • Paint over laminate furniture

Conclusion On Painting Laminate Furniture:

It was a great experience painting laminate furniture without sanding, and I’m looking forward to continuing the dining room makeover and painting more furniture in the future. Thanks for taking the time to read this guide. I hope you have learned from my experiences and found it helpful. So, are you ready now to paint laminate furniture IKEA?

FAQS On Painting Laminate Furniture

Q: Which paint do you use for laminate furniture?

When painting laminate, make sure you use a paint that is designed specifically for laminate surfaces. It may be chalk paints or latex paints. Generally, the durability and smooth finish of latex paint make it an excellent choice for painting laminate surfaces.

I personally use Rust-Oleum Latex Paint Ultra Cover that contains special ingredients that help it adhere well to surfaces and prevent it from chipping or peeling. If you want the best results, you can apply multiple thin coats of paint.

Q: How can you tell if furniture is laminate or veneer?

Laminate and veneer furniture can be distinguished in a few ways:

  • Check out the furniture’s edge. Smooth and uniform edges indicate laminate. There is probably veneer if you can see a grain pattern along the edge or if it is made from a natural hardwood.
  • You can scratch the furniture surface with your fingernail to examine the condition of the surface. Unlike wood, laminate is a hard and non-porous surface, so it will be difficult to scratch. In contrast, veneers are thin layers of wood applied over a plywood base material, and they are more easily scratched.

Q: Is IKEA furniture laminate or wood?

There are a variety of materials that can be used to manufacture IKEA furniture, including laminate and wood. Laminates are made from layers of flat paper and plastic resins that are pressed together. On the other hand, wood naturally comes from trees.

IKEA furniture sometimes consists entirely of wood, while others may have a wood frame covered with laminate or other materials. Mostly Ikea furniture is made from laminate wood, which can be difficult to work with. To find out which materials were used in an IKEA piece of furniture, it’s best to check the product description or packaging.

Rosalie Sanchez-Holapaints writer and owner

Rosalie Sanchez

DIY enthusiast with years of experience in home decor and home improvement. With a passion for educating consumers about DIY projects. Every time, I work with our painting professionals to provide you with the best painting product reviews and how-to advice. You can follow me on Facebook.

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