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The Right Way to Paint IKEA Furniture

updated Jun 18, 2019
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2-tier white bookcase next to a black metal round-back and black and white striped cushion chair
(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

We’re big fans of IKEA hacks and upgrades so we’re completely in favor of adding a little personality with paint. But not all IKEA furniture is alike, and therefore, not all requires the same paint treatment. I’m referring to IKEA’s popular material of choice: particleboard covered in laminate. It’s super affordable, which makes it a great option for budget-friendly projects, but can it really be painted sans streaking, bubbling, and peeling? Let me assure you, you can paint laminate furniture from IKEA, just follow these steps to keep your project from looking like a hack gone wrong.

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What You Need


  • Primer specifically made for laminate surfaces
  • Sealer
  • Paint



(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

If possible, always paint your furniture disassembled, it’s a much faster process and allows you to be more accurate. IKEA makes this easy since most items are purchased disassembled.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

If you’re painting a small shelf or low-traffic item, sanding isn’t necessary when using the correct primer. However, if you’re painting a larger item you’ll need to lightly sand, or de-gloss the surface with a fine grit sanding block before you get started. Be sure to wash and dry the surface afterwards, and follow up by running a tack cloth over the surface to collect any debris left behind.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Using the correct primer is key when it comes to painting laminate. You have a few options to choose from, so make sure you choose a primer that made to adhere to laminate and glossy surfaces without sanding. For this project we used Zinsser BIN. Other options include: Kilz Adhesion, and Zinsser Bullseye 123.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Before rolling on your first coat of primer, wipe the surface well. Particles from the chip board always seem to be floating around, just make sure none of them find their way onto your primed surface.

Once your primer has dried, inspect each surface to make sure you have complete coverage. Roll additional primer over any areas you might have missed the first time.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Apply the first layer of your topcoat to the surface. Be careful not to roll it on too thick, it’s best to apply a second coat for complete coverage if needed. And if you’re wondering, you can use spray paint, it just takes a while longer to build up the layers for a nice, even finish.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Wait until the last coat of paint is completely dry, then cover the surface with a sealer. If you’re painting a piece of furniture that won’t be getting a lot of traffic, a simple spray-on clear acrylic sealer will do the job (just be sure to match the sealer finish to your paint finish). However, if you’re painting shelving, a door, drawers, or something that will see a lot of action, you’ll want to use something heavy duty like Minwax Polyacrylic sealer.

Give the furniture ample time to dry and cure before assembling (per the instructions on the can – add a day or so for good measure) and that’s it, you’re good to go!

IKEA Hacks: Eket Stackable Side Table

Pro tips:

  • If possible, choose a primer with a shellac base. It smells terrible, but dries rock hard and is the best defender against chipping paint for a piece of furniture that will see a lot of action.
  • A super smooth roller brush is the best tool for the job, but if you’re looking for an even more professional finish, use a paint sprayer.
  • When possible, paint furniture disassembled.
  • Allow as long as you possibly can for the sealant to dry before assembling and using your piece of furniture.

Have a really great DIY project or tutorial that you want to share with others? Let us know! We love checking out what you’re making these days, and learning from our readers. When you’re ready, click here to submit your project and photos.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)