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.
TUTORIAL ON PAINTING LAMINATE:
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.