The complete step by step guide with a full video tutorial on how to paint Ikea laminate furniture with NO sanding for a long-lasting finish.
One of the best things about Ikea furniture is how it can be easily customized.
Ikea has a lot of unfinished wood furniture and I have a full tutorial on how to paint those.
But they also have a wide range of laminate furniture and it would be really fun to be able to paint it.
Painting laminate furniture can be a bit tricky because laminate is known for its “durability” or how easy it is to clean aka its non-adhesive nature to most paints.
It is possible to paint it!
I have done so in the past with great success.
It is very similar to painting any other type of furniture EXCEPT for one special ingredient.
Let’s dive in!
How to paint laminate furniture without sanding
The best way to paint laminate furniture without a ton of sanding is to lightly scuff the surface with medium-grit sandpaper followed by a shellac-based primer. It can then be painted with the paint and top coat of your choice.
Material needed –
- Shellac-based primer – this is KEY!
- Water-based primer – This is kind of optional and I will explain why.
- Good quality paint of your choice. Latex, acrylic, chalk paint – they all work.
- Topcoat of your choice (depending on the type of paint)
- Medium-grit sanding block (I know I said no sanding but stick with me for a bit)
- Tack cloth
- Foam roller
- Paint sprayer (optional)
- Drop cloths
- Paint tray
- Paint pail
Step by step tutorial –
It is a very simple process and almost like painting any other furniture – it needs the same number of coats but with a very small difference.
Before starting – if possible, disassemble the furniture. It makes it a lot easier to paint. However, there maybe situations where you might not want to – like in my case with this bookshelf. I wanted to build-in the dividers before painting so taking it apart wouldn’t have helped.
Let’s get into all the details.
Step 1 – Scuff and clean
- Using the medium-grit sanding block, scuff up the surface of the furniture a little bit.
- Wipe off all the dust with a tack cloth.
This is not sanding. We are simply “wiping down” the entire piece of furniture with the sanding block followed by the tack cloth to remove the dust.
Why do you need to scuff up the furniture?
I know a lot of other tutorials call for no “sanding” at all. But I have found that even if using the shellac-based primer, giving it a little something to hold on to never hurts.
Step 2 – Apply primer
If you take nothing else from this tutorial, take this.
This primer is the key to getting a durable finish on laminate furniture.
Step 3 – Apply 2nd coat of primer
- Once the shellac-based primer is dry to touch, apply another coat of primer
Now here, you have a choice – you can use the shellac-based primer OR you can use a good quality water based primer.
I typically opt for water based primer for a couple of reasons
- Shellac-based primer is more expensive so I try to use less of it.
- I can’t use the shellac-based primer in my paint sprayer. I lover using my paint sprayer for larger projects as it cuts down on time significantly.
Whichever primer you choose, apply a second coat and allow to dry.
Step 4 – Apply paint
- Apply 2 coats of paint on the project using a paint sprayer or a foam roller allowing the paint to dry between coats.
What type of paint to use on laminate furniture?
As long as you prepare your furniture properly with the correct primer, you can use any type of good quality paint – latex, acrylic or chalk.
I typically use either satin or semi-gloss latex paint on furniture.
Step 5 – Seal and finish
Based on the type of paint you use, apply a top coat.
I like using this top coat although if I use semi-gloss paint, I usually leave the project alone with no top coat. Once cured properly, it is pretty resilient.
Important tips –
- Use Shellac-based primer for the first coat of primer
- Use a foam roller or a paint sprayer for the paint and top coat
- Allow each layer to completely dry before proceeding to the next layer.
- Allow the paint and top coat to cure at least 48 hours or more before using the furniture.
That is it!
Enjoy your newly painted Ikea furniture.
Did you see how my bookshelf turned out?
It does take a bit of patience and one extra step but it so worth it!
If you want to see how I built and added those dividers and painted the “mural” on the sides, check out my Ikea Kallax bookcase hack.