Upcycling laminate furniture is a budget friendly way to have beautiful furniture in your home. Here is the step by step process on how to paint a laminate dresser with almost any kind of paint to create a long lasting and durable paint finish.
Get more of our favorite DIY Dresser Makeovers here!
Laminate dressers are a dime a dozen these days. A quick search on Facebook market place or craigslist usually brings up a few pieces of laminate furniture for cheap!
Laminate Furniture Vs. Veneer Furniture
Laminate furniture has a shiny and slick appearance. A wood grain pattern is printed onto synthetic materials, giving it the appearance of wood, but it isn’t wood at all. Laminate usually covers cheaper wood or MDF to give the appearance of high-quality wood.
Ikea furniture is the same way! So this tutorial also covers how to paint IKEA furniture.
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Veneer is different than laminate though. Veneer is made of very thin pieces of high-quality wood. It’s not synthetic or printed to appear as wood. It is actual wood. Its purpose is the same though; to cover cheaper wood and give the appearance that the dresser is made of solid high-quality wood.
Good news though! You can paint both laminate furniture and wood veneer furniture!
Click here to learn how to paint furniture with wood veneer!
But, because of the laminate’s shiny and slick surface, extra care needs to be taken when painting laminate furniture.
How to Paint a Laminate Dresser
Painting a laminate dresser or Ikea furniture isn’t hard at all. Follow these simple steps, and you’ll have a lasting and durable dresser for years to come.
- Clean off the surface with a degreaser cleaner.
- Scuff sand the surface to remove the shine and create better adhesion.
- Prime with a bonding primer.
That’s not so bad, is it?
Let’s get into the details of refinishing laminate furniture.
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Supplies for How to Paint a Laminate Dresser
- Old Laminate Dresser
- Krud Kutter and an old rag
- Bonding Primer (more on the best primer below)
- Paint Brush / Paint Sprayer
- Paint / Polyurethane
Step 1: Clean Off the Surface with a Degreaser Cleaner
Start by removing any grease, grime, or contaminations that will repel paint. I like to clean my furniture off with Krud Kutter because it quickly cuts through grease and grime.
Spray the Krud Kutter all over the dresser and then wipe it down with a damp old rag. Then let it dry.
Step 2: Scuff Sand
After the laminate is dry, grab some 220 grit sandpaper (this stuff is the best sandpaper!) and scuff up the surface.
Since laminate is shiny and slick, scuff sanding is super important!
You don’t need to get out the power sander, and you don’t want to sand through the wood grain pattern. You just need to dull the finish and remove the shine.
Then remove the dust with a vacuum hose attachment and a clean damp lint-free rag.
Step 3: Prime with a Bonding Primer
Priming laminate furniture with a bonding primer is the only way to really get the paint to stick to laminate furniture.
Even after you have scuff-sanded it, and even if you are using chalk paint.
Prime your laminate dresser with two coats of bonding primer for the best results. You may be able to get away with one coat, but I always do two coats to get the best results.
Pick the best bonding primer for laminate furniture down below!
Step 4: Paint
After your primer is dry, you can paint your laminate dresser just like any other dresser!
What is the Best Paint for Laminate Furniture?
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 I haven’t had much luck with using it over primer.
My favorite paint for furniture is Country Chic Paint. It’s a chalk paint that has excellent adhesion, and the colors are the best (Peacoat, Jitterbug, and Fireworks are my favorite colors)! It also has no VOC’s, and is super easy to use.
Depending on the color, paint a few coats of paint, making sure to let it dry between coats.
When the paint is dry, I recommend applying three coats of my very favorite water-based poly to give the painted finish extra durability, especially if you use chalk-style paint.
Learn ALL of my tips and tricks on How to Spray Polyurethane here!
If this is your first time painting furniture, learn more about how to paint furniture here!
Learn how to paint furniture with a paint sprayer here! Spraying cuts down on my time, and gives a truly brush free finish that I love!
Read more about how to paint furniture without brush marks (and without a paint sprayer) here!
Will Chalk Paint Stick to Laminate without primer?
Yes and no. But mostly no.
Yes, chalk paint may stick to laminate if the laminate isn’t very slick or shiny. But I wouldn’t recommend it. You will more than likely end up with paint that easily scratches or peels off.
If you want something that will last for a long time, be sure to prime with a bonding primer before painting with chalk paint.
So can you use chalk paint on laminate furniture? Yes. But be sure to prime first!
Or test the chalk paint on every surface of your laminate dresser before painting the whole dresser in chalk paint. Let the chalk paint dry for 24 hours, and then try to scratch it off with your fingernail.
If it easily scratches off, then you need to prime first. If it doesn’t scratch off, you can skip the primer.
Best Bonding Primer for Laminate
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.
Honestly, there are a number of good bonding primers out there! But which one is the best for your project??
- Are you stuck painting inside or can you paint outside?
- Do you want to distress or whitewash laminate??
- How much time do you have?
- Do you need to buy locally, or can you order online?
Click here to learn which bonding primer is THE BEST for YOUR project. Also, get the pros and cons for each kind of primer!
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