Best Paint for Laminate Furniture

What’s the best paint for laminate furniture? A paint that has excellent adhesion, and durability, right? We’ve got a great list of paints for you! Now you just need to pick a paint color.

Get more tips and ideas for painting furniture here.

Laminate top of furniture

What kind of paint do you use on laminate furniture?

Once you prime the laminate with a primer that sticks well, you can honestly paint it with almost any paint. Some paints are better than others though!

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I personally wouldn’t use regular latex (wall paint) because it’s not very durable and it doesn’t stick very well, even to primer.

Update: Learn the secret to painting furniture with latex paint here.

I know there are so many different types of paint, and then multiple brands of each of those types of paint. It’s overwhelming.

Best Paints for Laminate Furniture

I’ve tested so many different paints, and here are what I think are the best paints for laminate furniture.

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Heirloom Traditions Paint

heirloom traditions paint

Heirloom Traditions paint has blown me away for painting laminate furniture! I have been able to paint directly onto slick laminate furniture, and after 48 hours, the paint isn’t scratching off!

the difference between Heirloom Traditions paint on a scuff sanded surface vs not scuff sanded surface

That’s amazing! Most paint can’t stick directly to laminate without easily scratching off. Scuff sanding the laminate with 220 grit sandpaper before painting will make it stick even better!

Here’s how to paint laminate furniture without sanding for a detailed guide on painting laminated furniture without sanding!

Learn more about why sanding before painting furniture is important here. Once the paint is dry, it has a nice satin finish that’s durable.

You can brush, brush and roll, or spray it on. I prefer spraying it (thin it with 15% water for a perfect sprayed finish). Here are the best HVLP paint sprayers for furniture.

Price wise, it’s comparable, maybe even cheaper than other options. Their color line is a little limited though, but I’ve been very happy with the colors they do have.

Learn more about painting furniture with Heirloom Traditions paint here.

Makeovers Using Heirloom Traditions Paint

Fusion Mineral Paint

bottle of fusion mineral paint in bayberry

Fusion Mineral paint is another awesome option. They have so many colors to choose from, it has excellent adhesion, and it’s very durable.

You do need to prime/scuff sand before using it on laminate though.

It dries to a matte, but durable finish, that doesn’t need a top coat (I like to topcoat it though because matte finishes get dirty looking so easily!)

It can be brushed (Staalmeester paint brushes are the best with Fusion Mineral paint), rolled, or sprayed (thin with 10% water).

Makeovers Using Fusion Mineral Paint

Enamel (Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel)

using a stirring stick to mix a can of sherwin williams emerald urethane trim enamel

Enamel paint (my favorite is Sherwin Williams emerald urethane trim enamel) is another great option.

Check out our list of the best Sherwin Williams paint for furniture to learn more about the top Sherwin Williams paint option and which one is the right one for your next project!

You can get it tinted in whatever color your heart desires, it comes in multiple sheen options (always go up a sheen with this paint though) and once it’s cured, it acts like an oil based paint would.

It’s an alkyd paint, and I don’t understand all the chemistry, but it acts like a water based paint when wet, and then after it evaporates and dries, and produces a very durable oil-like finish.

It can be brushed, rolled, or sprayed (I like to thin 15%), and it has AMAZING self leveling technology, so even when you brush it on, the brush strokes will level out.

Check out the best paint brushes for painting furniture here and the best rollers for painting furniture here.

Sanding/priming before using is a must. Learn more about painting furniture with enamel paint here.

Makeovers Using Sherwin Williams Emerald Trim Enamel

Spray Paint

bottle of behr spray paint

Spray paint works well on laminate furniture too. I tested out a few different popular spray paints, and Behr was one of the best.

Spray paint is oil based, but you don’t really have to worry about cleanup, except if you get it on something you shouldn’t have.

Depending on the brand you go with, there are quite a few colors and different sheens available.

It produces a nice brush free and texture free finish, and it goes pretty quickly. The adhesion and durability are also excellent. But I still recommend sanding/priming beforehand.

(Check out that test I did to see the best spray paint for wood furniture and how it sticks to finished wood furniture without sanding or priming.)

Other Paint for Laminate Options that Need Topcoat

Learn more about topcoats for painting furniture in this post. And learn how to spray polyurethane here and how to apply polycrylic to painted furniture here.

General Finishes Milk Paint

can of general finishes milk paint in seagull gray

I love General Finishes milk paint! It’s an acrylic paint (don’t ask me why they call it milk paint). Another very similar paint with more paint colors is Paint Couture paint (love that stuff!)

The self leveling technology in it is amazing! You can brush it on and the brush strokes will basically all disappear.

closeup of black painted dresser with general finishes milk paint

It has excellent adhesion and can stick well to finished wood furniture without scuff sanding.

The bummer is that it needs a topcoat (waterbased polyurethane or wax) when used on high traffic surfaces. And their color selection could definitely be updated.

It can be brushed, rolled, or sprayed. And I would still sand/prime before using it on laminate furniture.

Makeovers Using General Finishes Milk Paint and Paint Couture Paint

Chalk Paint

country chic chalk paint in peacoat and fireworks

Chalk paint. I have a love-hate relationship with it. My favorite brand is Country Chic Paint. It has excellent adhesion, it’s so versatile and it dries quickly. It’s very beginner friendly.

Check out my honest and detailed Country Chic Paint Review here.

Until you have to topcoat it (water based polyurethane or wax). Then it’s annoying.

You’ll definitely need to sand/prime before using chalk paint on laminate furniture.

But there are so many color options between all of the different brands of chalk paint. It can be brushed, rolled, or sprayed (thin with water before spraying).

Read through this post to learn more about how to chalk paint laminate furniture.

Chalk paint also comes in spray cans. Check out this chalk spray paint comparison to learn more!

Makeovers Using Chalk Paint

Can you Paint Directly onto Laminate?

Mostly, no. Heirloom Traditions all in one paint is the only paint I would trust to paint directly onto laminate.

If you use anything else, you’ll need to scuff sand and/or prime beforehand. (More on the scuff sand and/or prime below).

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Will chalk paint stick to laminate furniture?

Nope. I would love to say it does, but I haven’t seen a chalk paint actually adhere that well.

How do you get paint to stick to laminate furniture?

You’ll need to at the very least scuff sand with 220 grit sandpaper, or use an excellent primer that will stick to the laminate while giving the paint something to hold onto.

scuff sanding laminate dresser top before painting
rolling Bin shellac primer onto a dresser

Both scuff sanding and priming will give you the best results. 24 hours after painting, paint shouldn’t scratch off with just your fingernail scratching at it.

scratching chalk painted dresser with finger
This is chalk paint on a wood dresser without scuff sanding or priming before painting.

If it does, then there is a good chance that it will scratch off even after it’s cured 30 days later.

If it only barely scratches off after 24 hours and you’re scratching really hard at it, then after 30 days it will probably not scratch off at all.

You can test your paint this way to see if it will stick without sanding or priming beforehand. Check out this post to learn all about how to paint laminate furniture.

Can I paint laminate without sanding?

You can! You will need to use either a paint that will stick directly to the laminate (mentioned above in this post) or you need to use a primer that will stick to the laminate without scuff sanding beforehand.

Best Primers for Laminate Furniture

Check out this test of the best bonding primers for laminate furniture to see how well they stuck without sanding before priming and painting.

BIN Shellac Based Primer

can of BIN shellac based primer

BIN shellac based primer is the best primer overall for laminate and wood furniture.

It is shellac based, so it is stinky, but the shellac helps the primer stick to laminate furniture (it has the best adhesion out of all the primers out there!) It’s thin, so it’s easiest to roll it or spray it on.

You can clean it up with ammonia or denatured alcohol. It dries quickly and when you sand it, it sands into a fine powder instead of gumming up like oil based primers do.

Clear Shellac

bottle of Bulls Eye clear shellac

Clear shellac is mostly known as a topcoat for wood. But it’s the base of BIN shellac based primer.

The only thing is that it’s clear instead of white, and it’s not quite as good at sticking to some things as BIN is. But I know it sticks well to laminate and wood very well. (It struggles to stick to plastics though.)

And it doesn’t create as good of coverage as BIN does (because it’s clear.)

But I love to spray it on my laminate and wood furniture from the spray can. It’s so easy to spray on, and when it’s dry, it feels smooth.

STIX Primer

can of inslx stix primer

STIX primer is a water based primer with amazing adhesion. You can use it on laminate, ceramic… etc. Since it’s water based, cleanup is easy with soap and water.

They do say to scuff sand before using it though. I wouldn’t be surprised if it sticks to laminate without sanding. It’s white, and you can brush, roll or spray it on.

Aqua Lock

brushing aqua lock primer onto laminate dresser

I love the Aqua Lock black primer (it comes in white too). I used it on laminate, but scuff sanded beforehand. And it stuck well. It’s water based, and it can be brushed, rolled, or sprayed.

How can I tell if my furniture is laminate or veneer?

Laminate is a plastic like material. It can look like wood (wood color and fake looking wood grain) or it can be just a solid color.

The best way to tell if something is laminate is to look at it where you can see light reflecting off it. You’ll be able to see that it’s shiny or glossy looking (more than wood is.)

closeup of the difference between laminate and wood veneer furniture

Most of the time laminate is completely smooth, with no wood grain texture that you can feel. Sometimes they put marks in the laminate to mimic wood grain, but it isn’t natural looking or feeling.

Wood veneer is a thin sheet of wood. So it has very similar characteristics to real wood.

It has a wood grain texture that you can feel, it and it usually isn’t shiny or glossy. It has either a matte or satin sheen usually.

It feels like wood. But if you look underneath, or at the side of it, you’ll often see a thin line usually 1/16” thick on the outside or top edge.

That’s the wood veneer that has been glued on the top of something else (wood, particle board, or mdf usually.) Learn about the basics of painting veneer furniture here.

If you’re wondering how to paint particle board furniture, check out this post to learn more.

closeup of thin line edge of laminate top

You can typically see a thin line on the edge of the laminate as well.

How do you paint IKEA laminate furniture?

You can paint IKEA laminate furniture the same way you paint laminate furniture.

scratching paint off of a laminate desk with finger
Laminate IKEA furniture has to be prepped before painting or the paint will scratch off easily.

Learn more about painting IKEA furniture here.

What kind of paint do you use on laminate cabinets?

You can use the same paints for laminate cabinets as you would use for laminate furniture. Refer back to the list above.

More Paint for Furniture Resources

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