How to Paint Veneer

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You can paint almost any surface with the right prep work. Wood veneer paneling, cabinets and furniture are composed of thin sheets of different decorative woods glued together to replicate a solid wood grain. To paint these surfaces, there are a few steps to take so the paint will adhere and won't scratch off easily.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood glue and clamps
  • Mild soap and water
  • Fine grade sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Varnish (optional)
  • Brushes or rollers
  • Repair damaged areas. You can glue down veneer if it's still intact, but if any areas are cracked, buckled or damaged, you'll have to remove and replace them before you proceed.

  • Clean the area you're going to paint with warm water and mild soap, and then rinse. Use a minimal water when cleaning and allow it to dry thoroughly.

  • Sand the area lightly with a fine grade sandpaper. Remove residual dust with tack cloth or a vacuum.

  • Apply a coat of good primer, allow it to dry and then sand again lightly. Apply a second coat of primer and let it dry for at least 24 hours.

  • Paint the area with at least 2 coats of paint. Allow each coat to dry according to the instructions on the can.

  • Finish by applying several coats of varnish for added protection. Follow the manufacturer's instructions; some suggest that you wait 24 to 48 hours before applying varnish over newly painted surfaces.

Tips & Warnings

  • Paint on a warm, dry and windless day if you're working outside. You'll have fewer bugs and debris stuck on your newly painted surface, and your paint will dry more quickly.
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