Paint Your Laminate Furniture

Thank you to Kirsten from 6th Street Design School for linking our library bookshelves on her blog yesterday. She is one talented designer and it was an honor to be on her blog!

When my husband and I were newlyweds we went to a furniture store and paid good money for our entertainment center which had cardboard backing with big holes in the back for wires. We were thrilled just to own furniture and I hadn't been properly introduced into the world of thrift stores and seeing how furniture with a bit of paint or refinishing can make an older piece new again. However, the cardboard backing of the entertainment center always bothered me.The armoire in the middle hides away technology when you don't want to see it, which is something I like. We decided to fix up what we had instead of go out to buy something new.

                                                          BEFORE: Fake blonde and cardboard
                                                                    AFTER: A real looker!

Now there are no holes in the back that you can see since my husband and I put a bead board backing and drilled small holes in hide away spots.We also changed the hardware, which helped give it an updated look as well.

You really can paint laminate! Here's what I did:

1. Lightly sand all surfaces.
2. Patch any area that might need it. We used patch to fill all the side holes, which makes the bookshelf look seamless. You'll need to sand the area you work on if you do need to fill holes.

2. Use an oil based primer so it can really adhere to your laminate. This is the key to painting laminated wood. You will need to paint outdoors, or a well-ventilated area (this is the stinky stuff). I would use a paint brush of not great quality so that you could throw it away after the priming. Also, a spray primer is great if you are doing a smaller piece of furniture.  Jenny recently talked about a new BIN Zinsser primer that she used on an Ikea closet which had a lot of shellac. This is helpful information if you are painting anything from IKEA.The great thing about using an oil based primer is that once it dries you could start painting. You don't need it to "cure" for a while like a water based primer.
3. Paint! Use any color your heart desires. Plan for about two coats of paint, making sure you leave time for it to dry. I used Creamy by Shermin Williams. The paint on the bead board is a mix of  colors we had in our paint supply store in the basement.
4. Poly coat it to make it scratch resistant and ready to stand up to the world.
5. Sit down and marvel at what you accomplished. Trust me- you'll be thrilled with how some effort and paint can change the whole look of your out-dated furniture.
Have any of you painted a big piece of furniture like this? I would love to hear about it!


  1. You know there's a ton of people with that faux blonde wood furniture from the 90's cursing themselves for throwing it away when they could've just painted it! It looks amazing!!

    1. Thanks for your comment Trisha! Gotta love the faux blonde look on people's heads but not when it comes to our furniture!

  2. Such a transformation and I love how it's styled.

  3. Tracy- Thank you for your great tips on the precise products to use for painting laminate! Can you tell me the type of brush I should use for the polycrylic? This will be my first try! (I will be painting a similar color as yours. Will this ever yellow, do you know?) Thanks, Stacy

    1. Thanks Stacy! I use a lot of Purdy brushes for painting and for the Poly coat. They are great brushes- just take care of them by cleaning them well and it should last you a long time. My paint job has not yellowed and has stood up well against a lot of scratches. Good luck and send me a picture of your project. I would love to see it!

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    Entertainment Furniture