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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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30 Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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. 🙂

  4. 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.

  5. 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