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How to Paint Laminate Furniture

How to Paint Laminate Furniture

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This month we moved into our new home.  I feel like a kid in a candy store, so many rooms to decorate and projects to do!  I’ve had these ideas in my head for months and they are finally coming to fruition.  My first project, kind of out of necessity, is my daughter’s play room.  We actually have a whole room dedicated to her toys, amazing!  I’m sharing all the details on how to paint laminate.  

I want to share this room with you piece by piece.  My plan is a primary colored fun room, something I am too scared to do in a bedroom.  But to keep it temporary I’m not painting the walls, just pops of color everywhere.  To start I am going to Paint Laminate Furniture!  It’s possible and is a great way to bring life to old dull furniture.

This post contains affiliate links, you can view my full disclosure here.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture - keep that old bookcase

I got this bookcase second-hand and it lived in the basement of our old house.  It has good bones but wasn’t pretty to look at.

bookshelf before

This is a laminate bookcase and YES you can Paint Laminate Furniture.  I did some research and asked some questions to make sure I did this right.  The blog I found that made me say “yes I can” is here.  Check her out.

Here is what I used:

Primer, specifically Zinsser Cover Stain PrimerGet yours here and read on to see why this is THE product to use. 


Roller (x2)

Brush (x2)

Wrapping paper

Hot Glue

I started by cleaning it and removing the shelves and back.  There is one fixed shelf in this piece that stayed put.

To prime it, a necessity, I used Zinsser Cover Stain Primer.


Laminate is glossy and this thick sticky oil based primer works great to cover it up without sanding.  A primer is key to a smooth paint-able surface.

Since this is oil based it doesn’t clean up easily so I purchased a cheap roller, pan, and brush; about $5 total.  That way I could throw it all away and not worry about the clean up.  I did end up with a few splatters on my hands that scrubbed off in a day or so.

I primed away using the roller for the large flat areas and a small brush for the corners.

20130514_082827 20130514_083751

The primer dried quickly and I was able to move on to the paint after an hour.

I chose an ultra white semi gloss latex based paint for the finish.  For this I used a nicer roller and brush, I was able to clean them up afterwards.  A good roller and brush won’t leave residue behind.

I did 2 coats, letting the first dry about an hour before applying the second.

20130514_093539 20130514_093546

The result was a smooth, slightly glossy finish, so much better than fake wood brown.

Next up was the back.  On this piece, and most inexpensive bookshelves, you have a piece of flimsy wood that is nailed to the back.  I removed this and covered it with a bold wrapping paper.

red and white wrapping paper for the back of a bookcase

I bought this paper on clearance many January’s ago intending to use it the next Christmas.  I love it but just never got around to using it.

It was destined to be a focal point in the playroom.

I laid a long piece of wrapping paper on the floor and laid my backing on top.  Then I “wrapped” the back and secured the edges with hot glue.

back of bookcase - how to paint laminate furniture

back of bookcase - how to paint laminate furniture

This paper is thin and down the road will probably tear.  But it’s easily removable and can be swapped out for another style when I ready for a change.  UPDATE – this paper has not torn and we are 4 years in.  This bookcase gets a lot of use too.  

How to paint laminate furniture - back of bookcase covered in wrapping paper

Then I reattached the back, mounted the shelves, and the bookcase was ready for the room.

How to paint laminate furniture - finished painted and wrapped bookcase

how to paint laminate furniture

It’s an awesome first piece.  This room is really a blank slate.

Next up..some colorful eclectic wall art.  Stay tuned!

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Be sure to check out these furniture projects for more inspiration

cozy colorful foyer bench in yellow

Modern updated wall curio


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