The Best Way to Paint Laminate Furniture

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For a fresh, updated look in your home, it is not necessary to go out and buy brand-new furniture. Furniture is a big investment and not in the budget for many people. One option is to transform the furniture you already have or to buy some cheap laminate furniture to repaint. That bookshelf in your basement with the fake wood-grain laminate may be an eyesore, but in a few steps you can make it living-room worthy.

Tools and Materials

  • Laminate furniture is usually inexpensive and is built out of particle board or a wood composite made out of wood particles pressed together to form sheets.

    To paint laminates, you will need several different tools and materials, so shop around for the best prices. Buy several grades of sandpaper, from coarse grit to fine grit. If you have an electric belt sander, you will be able to use it on large, flat surfaces, making larger painting projects quicker and easier to complete.
    Other tools you may need include rags, painting pads or brushes of different sizes, a paint tray and scrap newspaper.

    You will also need a container of primer. Latex primer is quick drying, has fewer fumes than oil-based primer and is easier to clean up. However, some people prefer oil-based primers and paints, citing better durability. Calculate the quantity of primer and paint you'll need based on the size of your project. A quart is usually enough for a piece of furniture.

Prep Work

  • Prepare your laminate furniture before priming or painting it. Paint won’t readily stick to a smooth laminate surface, so using coarse-grit sandpaper, sand all surfaces of your furniture piece to roughened it. Follow this by smoothing it with finer-grit sandpaper. This will even out deeper gouges. An electric belt sander is ideal for larger projects with larger flat surfaces, such as a table or a bookshelf.

    When sanding is complete, use a wet rag to remove all sawdust from your furniture piece. If the sawdust remains, it could mix into the paint, discoloring it and making it gritty.

Priming and Painting

  • Once your piece is totally clean, apply the primer. Primer will seal your laminate furniture surface to protect the integrity of the paint. It also will keep stains from penetrating the paint. Using a paint brush or painting pad, spread a thin layer of primer onto the surfaces of your furniture. Don’t worry about getting an even coating.

    Wait for the primer to dry, as instructed on the label of the can. When it is totally dry, apply a thin layer of paint to your laminate piece. Let it dry, and repeat until the paint is smooth and solid in color.

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