How to Paint Laminate Furniture Without All the Fuss

How to Paint Laminate Furniture Without All the Fuss

If you’re looking for an affordable, inexpensive way to freshen up your home’s decor, then learning how to paint laminate furniture could be just what you need. Furniture can get pretty expensive, so taking something you already own and painting it is a great alternative to dropping big cash on something brand new.

Have you ever watched shows on HGTV where they completely remodel the interior decoration and set up of a family’s home?

This is a common method used in order to keep a piece of furniture that is loved, and turning into something fresher and more modern. Keep on reading to learn about the different methods on painting the laminate furniture.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture

How to Paint Laminate Furniture Without All the Fuss

Just like with anything, there is more than one way to paint laminate furniture. It all depends on the look you’re going for. Maybe you want something super sleek, or maybe you’re interested in a more distressed, aged look.

Whatever you’re looking to do, we’re here to help you learn about the different methods in order to achieve what you want.

Good News: It’s Easier than You Thought

If you’re thinking to yourself, “This project is going to be more than I can handle,” then you’ll be glad to know it’s actually easier than you thought. It’s possible to know how to paint laminate furniture without sanding.

You don’t need to reach for the sander or any other fancy tools. The methods and steps to paint laminate furniture are easy to follow, meaning almost anyone can do it.

Feeling a bit intimidated? Then try it out with a smaller piece of furniture before going big. A good starting point is an end table or a mirror frame.

Once you get comfortable with the process, then going drastic with a dresser, dining room table, or any other large piece of furniture would be suitable. Be careful though, because once you get started, you might never want to stop.

First Thing’s First, What are you Painting?

In order to continue onto painting furniture, you’ll need to figure out what you’re going to work with. Is it going to be something you already own? Are you planning on revamping a piece that you find from the thrift store or a garage sale? Did you happen to receive a hand me down and need to figure out how to make it fit into your home?

When it all comes down to it, the possibilities are endless. And once you’ve got the piece of furniture down, another hard choice is to pick out the color.

This can be based on the current themes of your home, or what you are trying to achieve with this piece of furniture. Maybe you want it to blend in nicely, or pop with a contrasting color. Again: endless possibilities!

What makes painting with laminate furniture so fun is the versatility and freedom of the home owner / decorator. You might even be decorating for someone else.

With the following painting methods, you’ll be able to pull anything off with the stroke of a paintbrush, as well as some extra finishing touches. Just keep on reading to learn more.


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Step # 1: Clean the Piece of Furniture

cleaning laminate furniture

Before you can get started with painting your furniture, it is absolutely essential that you clean it. Any dirt that gets in the way will interfere with the color coating sticking on properly.

The best way to do this is with a soft cloth dampened with either some warm water, or a 1/2 water + 1/2 vinegar solution.

It’s best to avoid a chemical cleaner as this would leave residue which can also interfere with the final product. After cleaning, make sure to allow some time for your furniture to dry off properly.

Step # 2: Disassembling (If Applicable)

Now this might not be necessary, but if you’re working with a dresser, then you’ll need to remove the drawers. This is because you won’t be able to properly paint your dresser if the drawers are covering up some of the surface area.

If you’re painting a simple end table, then you don’t need to worry about this step.

Step # 3: Sanding (Optional!)

sanding laminate furniture

We already mentioned that it is possible to paint laminate furniture without sanding, but it is a possible step to take. In order to do this, all you need to do is “scruff” the furniture’s surface, just lightly.

Sanding is recommended because it’s the most effective way to allow the primer stick to the furniture properly. Be wary that if you skip sanding, you are risking that your paint starts peeling off later on.

With that being said, it’s also important to now sand too much. This is why the sanding must be done lightly, and it should be done by hand rather than with a sander. You want to imagine as if you are cleaning a surface in your home, rather than scraping off the surface.

If you want to find an alternative to sanding by hand, there is something called “liquid sander”, which is a liquid that works similarly. Make sure you’re in an open, ventilated area, as the chemicals can be harsh.

All you need to do is wipe the liquid onto your furniture with a brush. It will help soften and dull the furniture before starting the project. Always make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow accordingly.

Step # 4: Priming

Before you place the color you desire straight onto your furniture, it is required for you to prime. Primer has the ability to adhere to surfaces that may be shiny, and works perfectly for laminate. It’s best to go for two coats, but one is alright.

While sanding isn’t required, priming should be taken seriously. In fact, you should go for the higher end primer if you can.

This will ensure that your finished product lasts as long as possible. You don’t want to go through all that hard work for just a couple years of use, right? Get the good stuff and enjoy your DIY re-vamp for years to come.

Priming is a great way to help you determine if the paint is going to adhere properly. If it’s working, the surface will come out smooth. If things are going wrong, you’ll notice some unevenness and bubbling happening.

As long as you have a high quality primer and your surface was cleaned properly, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Step# 5: Paint the Surface With Your Desired Color

Now here is where things can get a bit varied, depending on what you want to do. Of course, if you just want to go for a solid color, then it’s done more simply. But if you’re looking for painting the laminate furniture to look like wood, then you’ll need a different set of directions.

choose painting color for laminate furniture

If Using a Solid Color

If you want to go with one solid color, then all you need to do is apply your paint as needed. All you need to use is either a brush or paint roller, whichever you prefer. Most people like to go with 2-3 layers.

You might even want to lightly sand in-between every coat if you want a more “pro” looking product with some distress. The difference is slight to the normal eye, so if you want to get done ASAP, then don’t worry about it.

Between every coat, it’s important to allow the paint a bit of time to dry. It’s ok to let it dry completely. Don’t rush yourself either, it’s better to take things slower rather than trying to get everything done ASAP.

Once you have finished applying the main color, then you’re going to want to allow it to dry completely before moving onto the next step.

If You’re Trying to go for a “Wood” Texture

This is going to be a bit more intricate, since wood has such a distinct look. Your first coat of paint should be a beige, umber, or sienna type of shade, something that will help give your piece a wood look. Apply with either a brush or roller.

The next step is to mix clear acrylic glaze with a darker colored paint in equal parts. Coat this mixture onto the surface with a small (4 inch) roller. Take a wood grain rocker or paint comb and graze it along the surface.

There is a method to this madness though. You’ll want to start at an angle, let’s say, 45 degrees. You’ll want to start at one end of the surface, then pull it down and create the wood appearance by flipping your rocker and taking back the opposite direction. If you make a mistake, simply apply the glaze again and repeat.

Of course, do this method of the entire piece of furniture, until you are satisfied. As long as you have a good wood grain rocker or graining comb, then you should be fine. Let yourself have some practice too with some drywall or cardboard covered in some glaze.

Step # 6: Distressing / “Aging” (Optional)

Don’t want a piece that looks brand new, but want a more “antique” look? Painting the laminate furniture to look distressed is a great way to do that. You can choose to do this either before or after varnishing your furniture.

I would personally do it before to “seal” in the distress and help keep the piece in good condition. It would be sad to see the distress add up over time from not being varnished into the piece.

Distressing and aging of your furniture can be done with things like hammers, heavy objects, and milk paint. Of course, physically beating the piece will add some real wear and tear. Milk paint can be used to add “stains” and should go along the grain.

Another thing you can do is distress with some sandpaper. Sanding between every coat of your main color would come in handy, as suggested earlier.

Step # 7: Varnish It Up!

Once you have allowed your paint to dry completely (yes, completely), it is finally time to seal everything up with some varnish! Sealing the paint in with varnish is necessary to keep the piece lasting a good, long time.

Most people go for polycrylic paint. That’s because the smell isn’t so strong and it doesn’t develop a yellow-ish hue over time like some other varnishes.

Applying varnish should be done with a good paint brush, and is recommended in 2 coats. Just make sure to allow the varnish to dry between each coat. The final layer should be given at least 24 hours before declaring your paint-job done.

Don’t Forget the Finishing Touches!

Once you are finished with painting your laminate furniture, you need to consider the final touches. This can either be fine paint detailing with templates or by hand, new hardware, or anything else you can think of. Adding new hardware and fixtures is the ultimate way to take something new and give it a completely new feel.

If you are a talented painter, then adding some floral designs before the final coat of varnish gives a lovely touch. Of course, there is nothing wrong with leaving it the way it is after you’ve finished, as that’s what most people do.

The Final Say

Now that you’ve learned how to paint your laminate furniture, it’s time to experiment! You can do anything you would like with your piece of furniture. What might have seemed impossible before, is now within reach. Try out the methods we covered to get the look you desire. You will be amazed at what you can do with your own hands.

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