Best Bonding Primer for Laminate Furniture

Discover the best primer for your laminate furniture project & the pros and cons to each bonding primer! Whether you need it to be white or clear, shellac, oil, or water-based, OR if you need it to be fast-drying, here’s the best bonding primer for laminate furniture!

Also, learn more about the different types of paint for furniture here!

can of primer with a paint brush with text overlay best bonding primer for laminate

We picked this cute little vintage dresser up from a thrift store specifically so we could show you how to paint a laminate dresser.

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The top of this dresser is definitely laminate. It was super shiny, and very slick, it didn’t have any scratches like dressers with wood tops usually have on them either.

How to Get Paint to Stick to Laminate Furniture

While some chalk paints say that you can paint over laminate without any prep, I don’t agree!

I mean, sure, if you want to spend hours painting a dresser just for it to easily get scratched (or worse, the paint peel off easily!) then go ahead, slap that chalk paint on.

But if you want to do it right so your dresser can look amazing for years to come, then there’s one extra step you need to do before painting laminate furniture.

That extra step (and most important step) is to prime with a really good bonding primer that will stick to the laminate. Learn the step by step process of painting laminate furniture here!

(Remember, your paint will hold onto the thing that’s underneath it. If you have a primer that doesn’t stick, your paint will only hold onto that useless primer and end up peeling up or scratching off easily!)

What Kind of Primer Should I Use on Laminate Furniture?

The number one question when learning how to paint a laminate dresser is what is the best bonding primer for laminate. The primer is the biggest thing that will create a long-lasting durable finish.

They all are great options, but we can narrow down what primer you should use by knowing what your situation is, or what look you want on your laminate furniture.

  • Can you paint outdoors or are you stuck inside?
  • Do you want to distress the laminate or do you not want any distressing?
  • Do you need to buy locally, or can you order online?
  • How much time do you have?

The primer that you use for laminate furniture will depend on how you answer those questions.

Check out my list of the best water based primers here.

Are you Painting Inside or Outside?

For instance, if it’s the middle of winter in the Midwest, you’re most likely stuck inside. You don’t want to use a stinky primer! If you can paint outside, you have more options!

Is Distressing Laminate Important to You?

Do you want to distress your paint so you can see the wood underneath the paint? If so, you don’t want to use a primer that is white! You’ll want to use a clear primer.

This is also true for whitewashing laminate! If you don’t want to distress (or whitewash), you can use one of the white tinted primers.

Can You Order Online, or Do You Need It Today?

Only some of these primers may be available in your local area, while all should be available online!

How Much Time Do You Have?

Do you need to get your laminate furniture painted before the day is over? You’ll need to use the fast drying option! But, the fastest drying primer is stinky AND white.

The clear bonding primer from Country Chic Paint and the STIX primer needs to dry overnight before painting over it.

Best Bonding Primer for Laminate Furniture

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1. BIN Shellac Based Primer

BIN shellac based primer is my go-to white primer when preventing bleed through on furniture. It blocks the tannins in wood really really well.

But you don’t have to worry about tannins on laminate furniture, because it’s not real wood!

BIN shellac based primer has excellent adhesion and sticks to slick surfaces like ceramic tile, glass, metal, plastic, and hardboard.

Cons:

This primer is shellac-based, which means that I would only brush it on with a cheap or old paint brush that you don’t care about so you don’t have to clean it. Cleanup is with denatured alcohol or ammonia.

It also has a very strong smell, especially if you’re spraying it. So I only recommend working on your laminate dresser outdoors or in a well-ventilated area if you use BIN shellac based primer.

Pros:

The biggest reason I am putting this on my list of best bonding primers for laminate is because it comes in an aerosol can for quick and easy painting! (I LOVE a fast solution to getting a project done!)

It dries to the touch in 15 minutes and surfaces can be painted in 30 minutes! (That’s fast!) And when I say that it’s dry, it’s dry. You can sand it and it will turn into a fine powder after such a short dry time.

And it’s usually pretty easy to find at local hardware stores.

2. Zinsser Cover Stain Primer

Cover Stain primer is another white primer that has excellent adhesion to enamel paints and varnishes, paneling, laminates, and ceramic tile.

It also sticks to non-galvanized metal, glossy paint, ceramic, tile, and glass.

Cons:

It is oil-based, so paint brushes and spills have to be cleaned up with mineral spirits. It also has a strong smell like BIN shellac, so it needs to be used in a well-ventilated area.

Pros:

But Cover Stain primer also comes in an aerosol can for easy painting! (Super fast again!)

It dries to the touch in 15 minutes and surfaces can be painted in 1 hour. (Though it doesn’t sand into a fine powder after this quick of a dry time…)

And it’s also pretty easy to find in local hardware stores. It also can help block bleedthrough!

Check out my in-depth and honest Zinsser Cover Stain Primer Review here to learn more.

3. Clear Shellac

Yep, clear shellac. The stuff that you would think of as a topcoat, is an AMAZING bonding primer! Crazy huh? It’s the base in shellac based primer that sticks so well, so it only makes sense.

Cons:

The biggest con about clear shellac is that it has a strong fume-y odor to it just like the oil and shellac primers above and needs to be used in a well-ventilated area.

It also has to be cleaned up with denatured alcohol or ammonia.

Pros:

But, it’s clear! So you can distress the paint to show the wood underneath.

It dries quickly and can be painted over in an hour. (You also don’t need to sand it down before painting because it dries smooth.)

And it sticks so well! Paint of all kinds stick to it really well too. It’s crazy! haha

Oh, and my favorite, it comes in an aerosol can for easy application! It’s also easy to find in local hardware stores.

Oh, and it also is my go-to “primer” to paint wood because it blocks bleed through.

So it’s the perfect base coat if you have a project that has some wood and some laminate, like this end table I painted with General Finishes milk paint that was half laminate and half oak.

Can you tell that I love clear shellac??

If you want to see the clear shellac and some of the other primers in action, check out this post on how to paint laminate furniture without sanding, where I compared 4 different primers!

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4. STIX Bonding Primer

STIX primer is a white bonding primer and was made specifically for slick surfaces that are hard to paint like PVC, vinyl, plastic, glass, tile, metal, and gloss paints.

Cons:

It drys tack free after 30 minutes, and you can re-coat it in 3-4 hours. You can paint over it after 24 hours. That’s a long time compared to the more stinky options above.

I haven’t seen STIX in any local hardware stores, but it may be in your local paint stores! (Actually, Ace Hardware local to me carries it!)

It’s also not available in an aerosol spray can, but you can spray it with a paint sprayer.

Pros:

Since it’s a water-borne product, it has a low odor and cleanup is done with warm soapy water. And it’s great to use indoors because it’s low odor!

It sticks really well, just like all of the other options!

5. Country Chic Paint’s Clear Bonding Primer

The Clear Bonding primer was made for painting smooth and slick surfaces like laminate furniture, glass, and metal, but it was also made to be eco-friendly and water-based.

It’s basically the same type of thing as the STIX primer mentioned above, but it’s clear instead of white.

Cons:

It needs to dry for several hours between coats. I like to paint one coat, let it dry for a few hours, and then paint another coat and let it dry until the next day.

It’s also not available in an aerosol spray can, but you can spray it with a paint sprayer.

And it’s not easily found in local hardware stores. Though you may have a Country Chic Paint retailer in your area!

Pros:

It’s CLEAR (unlike most of the options), and it’s 100% VOC free!

I like to distress my painted furniture, so this is the best way to be able to distress laminate furniture.

It’s also water-based, so if you want to paint anything laminate, this clear bonding primer is a great way to paint indoors.

How to Whitewash Laminate Furniture

Once again, you’ll need to prime before painting, or even using a whitewash!

Since most bonding primer is white, you can’t just paint a couple of coats of primer and then whitewash over it. Your dresser would be completely white!

But I have the perfect solution for you. You can use the clear shellac OR the Clear Bonding primer. And then whitewash as usual with watered down white paint.

Here’s more about how to whitewash furniture.

Since the clear shellac and the clear bonding primer dries clear, you won’t see either of them between the laminate and the whitewash.

Best Paint for Laminate Furniture

After you have painted a coat or two of primer, you can paint your laminate dresser with a few different kinds of paint. You can use chalk paint, latex paint, acrylic paint, or enamel paint!

My go-to paint is chalk paint, but here is my list of the best paint for furniture that explains why I use specific paint when painting furniture.

The only paint I wouldn’t recommend is powdered milk paint, as it gets extra finicky over primers.

How to Distress Laminate Furniture

Distressing laminate furniture can be difficult if you use a white primer under a dark-colored paint.

So, if you want to distress laminate furniture, be sure to use the clear shellac OR the clear bonding primer under the paint.

Then when you go to distress after painting, you can distress down to the laminate without seeing white primer.

If you’re worried about sanding through the laminate, you can wet distress instead of using sandpaper. Learn more about distressing furniture techniques here.

How Many Coats of Primer on Laminate Furniture

No matter the primer you choose, it’s best to paint 2 coats of primer over laminate to make sure you get primer everywhere. I’m sure 1 coat would be okay. Just not as good as 2 coats would be.

How to Fix Paint Peeling Off of Laminate Furniture

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the paint all needs to come off before you can paint it again. A new coat of primer over the peeling paint will just continue to peel off.

So, you can either use a heat gun to help scrape off the paint, use a stripper to remove the paint, or you might be able to sand it away. But if it’s peeling, it will probably just gum up your sander.

Learn more about how to remove paint from wood furniture here.

Spray Paint Primer for Laminate Furniture

Spray paint primers are my favorite! The BIN shellac-based primer, Cover Stain primer, and clear shellac primer mentioned above all come in aerosol spray paint cans and are SO good at getting paint to stick to laminate cabinets or furniture.

olive green painted dresser with distressing
CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT THIS LAMINATE DRESSER LOOKS LIKE NOW!

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5 best bonding primers for laminate furniture with olive green dresser

8 Comments

  1. Demi Kinney says:

    I love the idea of whitewashing laminate furniture over clear shellac primer AND primer in a spraypaint can. Have you had issues with the spray paint cans sputtering? Also, do you need to sand the laminate at all before using the shellac primer or in between primer coats? I’m trying to change an orange-y laminate to a natural yellow-ish wood look and I want to preserve the laminate’s wood look.

    1. I’ve never had issues with the clear shellac spray cans sputtering. At least I can’t think of any time I have. I spray the can upside down for a few seconds when I’m done spraying, so then it doesn’t clog for the next use.
      I think sanding before will always be a good thing to do, but I don’t think its necessary. It might help a little bit though. Good luck!!

  2. I am just need to use bonding primer to top. I was going to buy bin but it was expensive so I bought Zinnsser bulls eye primer but it is gray. Will this work or do I need Bin

    1. As long as you sand before priming, the Zinsser 123 will work.

  3. Thanks for all this great info! I tested painted and primed today using Zinsser Bullseye Sand Sealer today and it seems to have worked really well. I brushed it on a dresser drawer and then lightly sanded before painting over with Benjamin Moore Advance. Any experience with this product as a primer?

    1. Hey! I haven’t personally used that primer yet. Sorry! I hope it all works well for you!

  4. Linda Graef says:

    If you use shellac or bin smelly primers, paint it outside, how bad does the furniture smell when you bring it back indoors to chalk paint? My hubby gets headaches easily. I’m doing a dining table, laminate top, leaf & 7 chairs. Thanks so much. Great information.

    1. It will take a few days for all of the smell to go away. I don’t think the smell is bad after it has dried overnight.
      I get headaches when people wear perfume, so I get it. Paint for some reason doesn’t bother me as much. haha

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