Though easy on the budget, laminate furniture frequently looks plain and poorly made from the start. Laminate furniture typically consists of particle board laminated with melamine resin or other plastics. Many laminate pieces come in solid colors. Others have faux wood grains created by encasing furniture-sized photos of real wood in the resin. Instead of living with the look until you have a bigger budget, dress up your laminate furniture to make it look chic instead of cheap.
Painting laminate furniture requires more prep work than painting wood, but it’s doable. The keys to making the paint stick to the slick plastic surface is sanding the piece to rough up the finish and applying at least one coat of primer. Choose a primer designed for both plastic surfaces and your paint type, and be prepared to add multiple coats of both paint and primer if the manufacturers recommend it. A light sanding between paint coats helps ensure good coverage to achieve a professionally painted look.
Add wood molding to your laminate piece to give it a higher-end look. Frame door and drawer fronts with panel molding for a raised-panel look. Remove the laminate tape that frequently surrounds laminate furniture tops, and replace it with half-round finish molding. Make a bank of laminate bookcases look like one large unit by installing a single length of crown molding along the bookcase tops. Add flat, fluted molding to the bookcase fronts to hide the spaces where the bookcases abut. Miter all molding for a professional look. Once you’ve installed all the molding, paint the entire piece to give the furniture and trim a uniform finish.
Add Fabric or Decals
Add fabric to your laminate furniture for a pop of both color and pattern. You can use fabric to dress up drawer fronts or to add interest to the back walls of bookcases or china cabinets. Cover the top and sides of a dresser, chest or credenza with fabric for a semi-upholstered look. Use staples or nails to attach the fabric to drawer fronts or the removable back panels on bookcases. Use spray adhesive to affix fabric to other furniture surfaces.
For another fast fix that adds pattern, affix decals to drawer and door fronts or to the tops or sides of storage furniture. Choose a small repeating design for each section, or opt for a larger, mural-like decal to splash a single design across the entire piece.
Turn plain laminate furniture into an original design by hacking it. Trim the edges with upholstery nail heads or frame them with brass corners. Replace the top of a laminate table or console with wood planks or butcher block. Replace the legs on a coffee or end table for a new, hardware-store set or salvage a vintage set from a damaged thrift-store piece. Build a large piece of furniture from the components of several smaller pieces. Create a collage and decoupage it onto a laminate table top.
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