The Secret to Successfully Painting IKEA Shelves

updated Jul 4, 2019
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Apartment Therapy readers are an amazingly helpful and knowledgeable group – over the years, they have stepped up and provided answers to all sorts of questions about how to do things around the house better, where the best sources are and, of course, what color to paint the walls of your (fill in the blank). In honor of their willingness to help and to continue to spread the brainy-ness, we’re putting together some reader intelligence reports, this first one on painting IKEA shelves, such as the LACK or EXPEDIT.

If you want to makeover your IKEA shelving in a different color (such as the amazing wall-matching set-up shown above), apparently, the one word you need to know is PRIMER!

• From quiltmaster

The secret is the primer. You must use a shellac based primer. B.I.N. by Zinsser is a common one. It is even used to paint laminate. After the primer dries, you cna use any kind of paint you like. I definitely recommend spraying the paint for a nice even finish. A sponge brush or roller will work too.

Most of all allow plenty of drying time for the paint to fully cure. Cure times is one of the most understimated facrots in paint durability. And the companies rarely talk about it. I would dry the primer overnight and leave the painted shelf empty for at least a week, two if I could.

It really is easy. Have no fear!

• From missallfun

You can totally paint the shelves. Im a set designer and have painted mine about 5 different times. Primer is the key.

• From Jckry

I painted the lack shelves that I have in my store and I used a good quality primer, and a HIGH quality paint. I used a Ralph Lauren Metallic. I would also use a nice roller and use full strokes….Should come out smooth.

• From DARinNYC

I have painted many an IKEA item. The absolute key is primer as quiltmaster indicates! I would qualify though and suggest using “high adhesion” primer. It’s designed for use on plastics and other surfaces and this will create a nice smooth surface for paint to adhere.

• From boston brit

I want to echo what quiltmaster said – Primer! And let it dry for a long time! We painted some Ikea bureaus a few years ago and our downfall was that it was humid when we did it and it took too long to dry. Good primer and plenty of time to dry, and you should be all set!

And, our readers also kindly provide the proof that primer really DOES seem to be the key:

• From mh330

Despite a lot of internet research, i made some mistakes: – USE PRIMER! i skipped this step, since i’ve never used primer for anything and never had a problem… until now. I figured that since the paint was sticking as i was painting, all was good. But i have to say that without primer (and proper sanding apparently) the paint is very fragile and likes to chip easily.