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The Trick to Paint Laminate IKEA Furniture

A 3 step tutorial for painting laminate IKEA furniture to prevent peeling and scuffs and to make your painted finish last for a custom look.

This is one of those the-more-you-know kind of moments. The post that preaches do-what-I-say-and-not-what-I-do after learning it from the school of hard knocks.

If you’ve hung around this blog for a while, you’re probably fully aware that we have a straight up Stage 5 clinger infatuation with IKEA.

Like these built-in bookcases:

How to Paint Laminate IKEA Furniture | A 3 step tutorial for painting laminate IKEA furniture to prevent peeling and scuffs and to make your painted finish last for a custom look.

And this dresser:

How to Paint Laminate IKEA Furniture | A 3 step tutorial for painting laminate IKEA furniture to prevent peeling and scuffs and to make your painted finish last for a custom look.

And this massive shelving system:

How to Paint Laminate IKEA Furniture | A 3 step tutorial for painting laminate IKEA furniture to prevent peeling and scuffs and to make your painted finish last for a custom look.

And this plate rack:

How to Paint Laminate IKEA Furniture | A 3 step tutorial for painting laminate IKEA furniture to prevent peeling and scuffs and to make your painted finish last for a custom look.

You get the picture.

I frolic through the mouse maze of build-it-yourself furniture and make corny puns at all of the Swedish names I can’t pronounce. Good times.

But besides putting your inner-child’s past LEGO building skills to work to put together a basic dresser, there’s one thing they don’t warn you about… painting it.

We’re currently working on a pretty big kitchen project that involves an IKEA cabinet to implement pantry storage that we so desperately need. (More on that later.)

And I realized I’m asked quite a bit from some of y’all how to paint IKEA furniture without it peeling off of the laminate finish. So DUN DA DA DUUUUUUN (sung in my best super hero voice)… here we are to save the daaaaaaay!

How to Paint Laminate IKEA Furniture:

Supplies:

(Some affiliate links are provided below. Full disclosure here.)

  • Liquid Deglosser
  • Kilz Adhesion primer
  • Benjamin Moore Advance paint (or your preferred brand of enamel-based paint formulated for cabinets/trim)
  • A clean, dry rag
  • Paint brush and/or mini roller (or a paint sprayer if you want a super smooth, professional looking finish)

The Steps:

1. It’s best to paint all of the pieces before assembly, but that’s up to you really, since it will prolong drying time. Wipe down your pieces with liquid deglosser on a clean rag first and let air dry for about 10-15 minutes.

How to Paint Laminate IKEA Furniture | A 3 step tutorial for painting laminate IKEA furniture to prevent peeling and scuffs and to make your painted finish last for a custom look.

2. Using your application method (paint, roller, or sprayer) apply a coat of Kilz Adhesion primer. If you are painting your pieces prior to assembly, flip your pieces to the other side and repeat.

How to Paint Laminate IKEA Furniture | A 3 step tutorial for painting laminate IKEA furniture to prevent peeling and scuffs and to make your painted finish last for a custom look.

3. Once the primer coat is dry, paint/roll/spray your enamel-based paint onto the primed surfaces. Depending on your color choice, you might need to apply a second coat.

How to Paint Laminate IKEA Furniture | A 3 step tutorial for painting laminate IKEA furniture to prevent peeling and scuffs and to make your painted finish last for a custom look.

That’s it! I know it’s a total pain to go through the prep steps, but it’s so totally worth it. And I only know this because we’ve skipped the prep work before on some of our previous IKEA makeovers and lived to regret it.

How to Paint Laminate IKEA Furniture | A 3 step tutorial for painting laminate IKEA furniture to prevent peeling and scuffs and to make your painted finish last for a custom look.

I cannot WAIT to show y’all this kitchen wall pantry cabinet once it’s all finished because it’s looking sooooo good over here. See that little bit of green I’ve started painting on? Eeeeek! Dying already!

But until then, I hope this helps!

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28 Comments

  1. I followed your procedure to paint our ugly, old, brown laminate computer desk with Benjamin Moore Advance Simply White paint. Since it was an older piece, I first cleaned it with TSP solution before using the liquid deglosser. I did very lightly sand most of the desk before painting on 2 coats of the Kilz primer just to be sure.
    However, the primer stuck just as well to the unsanded parts in the back. 2 coats of Advance paint and
    8 turquoise knobs completed the project. It turned out amazing-quite a difference! Thanks so much for your tutorial which I found the easiest to follow from the other methods that I viewed online.

  2. I used this method to paint my ugly, brown computer desk with Benjamin Moore Advance in Simply White. Since this was an older piece, I first gave it a good cleaning with TSP solution before using the
    deglosser. I gave it a light sanding before priming just to be sure. However, I didn’t sand the back and the primer stuck just as well. Two coats of the Kilz primer and 2 coats of paint and I now have a desk that makes me happy. Thanks so much for your tutorial. I love your home and all the pieces that you’ve brought to life!

  3. What color of white Advance paint would you recommend for a desk? would you try to match the color of the white woodwork in the room?

  4. Love your tutorials! Your home is lovely. I’m thinking of painting our IKEA Liatorp cabinets which sit in a high traffic area. How have your IKEA makeovers held up over time?

    1. The furniture pieces that I used these steps on have held up GREAT! That adhesion primer is definitely key. On the pieces where I skipped the primer, I definitely paid the price and paint chipped off. This method does take longer, but it’s worth the extra steps.

  5. This looks so much easier to do than some of the other sites that say to sand, prime, paint and topcoat. I am considering painting a large laminate desk that also has a top piece for storage. So if I use your method I won’t need to sand it- or does this only apply to Ikea
    laminate furniture? Thanks for the info.

    1. IKEA laminate is the only furniture I have experience using this technique. However, it should not be any different for other laminate pieces. Let me know how this turns out. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Hi Lauren! What color did you use on your cabinet? I just love it!! Thanks so much :D. Also, thanks for the awesome tutorial. I hope mine looks as nice as yours ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi! We used a cabinet for our pantry in the kitchen as well as in our office. The kitchen cabinets are Sherwin Willams Billiard and the office cabinets are Benjamin Moore Hale Navy.

  7. How has the painted cubbies held up? Do they scratch with use? I was thinking of painting our black ones lighter but not sure it’s worth all the hassle? Thanks!

  8. Hi! Is it possible to paint inside the house? or are the fumes too strong? I”m not sure how strong the smells are and I live in an apartment so would be too hard for me to haul out my furniture outside by myself. Love these tips!

  9. If there’s a coat of peeling paint on top of the laminate, what steps do I take to prep the piece? Do I just sand then do the above steps?

    1. I would sand to remove as much of the loose paint as possible. You can get a primer called Peel Stop from Home Depot to apply before painting. That should help. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I’m a believer in sanding and using oil-based primer for most anything, and scrubbing with TSP substitute and filling first if it is used. Oil is much better than water-based primer at blocking stains.

    Chalk paint with wax or water-based poly works well as a top coat and doesn’t require primer unless there is a lot of stains, and you can make it nearly perfectly smooth and fill in open grained veneer, like oak, even if your painting skills are not the best. But it will be impossible to strip later if you change your mind, so I don’t do it on nice solid wood furniture if I can help it.

  11. Hi Lauren,
    Thank you so much for this post! I am about to make over a large laminate hutch dresser for our dining room and I do not want it to be a waste of time with paint peeling off, which is what usually happens to me:-(. Just to clarify though, is it real enamel paint that you clean up with turps or the water based enamel paint that you use?
    Love everything you do!
    Cheers
    Heather

  12. This is such great advice! I live in a 100-year old house with a kitchen updated in whatever decade they did laminate cabinets (70s? IDK but they’re the ugliest!) I’m sure this method will work for them, and save me!!

    1. Hi, Annamaria!! The paint suggested in the post is self leveling paint. Also, using a small roller helps avoid the brush marks as well. And we do not use a protecting clear coat. If you have any further questions or concerns always reach out. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Lauren, how is everything you do is so wonderful? Everything you touch turns to gold. Your arrangements are gorgeous. How do you do it? That’s all. Thank you.

    Also, if I’m ever brave enough to paint my Ikea stuff, I’ll be sure to follow this method.

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