When we moved into our house a few years back, we had two hot pink couches and a mattress on the floor. That's about the time I began finding old thrift store furniture and painting it...and out of necessity, a hobby was born.
Last week some friends were moving and they gave me a bunch of furniture from their basement. It was some pretty dated stuff, but I knew I could up update with paint. The pieces were laminate, which usually isn't ideal, but I get tons of questions about how to paint laminate furniture, and I knew this would be a great chance to talk about it.
So, here we go. This is how to paint laminate furniture.
I paint the majority of my real wood pieces this way, too, so it really works for just about any sort of wood furniture.
So, here is the trailer full of free furniture I brought home.
I decided to start with the smaller dresser first
(although I eventually painted the larger one, too).
Here's the before picture.
The dresser was in great shape, and was a perfect paint candidate. After just a couple hours of work, this is what I ended up with. I think it's my favorite paint project.
Or at least a good rival to my all-time favorite. It's hard to compete with that one.
So let's talk about the actual process of painting. One of the most common questions I get about painting laminate furniture is if it should be sanded first. In my experience, no. Sanding laminate furniture can damage the laminate and basically ruin the piece. So, be careful.
Rather than sanding the laminate, all you have to do to get the paint to adhere correctly is prime.
The reason you should prime your laminate furniture first before painting is simple. Laminate has a shiny finish and if you just try to paint directly on it, the paint will not adhere well and you'll visibly see the paint bubble up as soon as you apply it. I've made this mistake before, and it's a sad moment. The solution is primer. Primer will adhere to the laminate, and it will create a surface that your paint can adhere to. It will keep your paint from scratching or peeling off, it will cover up the wood stain, and it will even cover up that musty smell old furniture tends to have. Basically, primer is awesome.
The primer I usually use is Zinsser primer (affiliate link). I've also used Kilz, and it works really well, too. Just look for a primer that says it's good for adhesion.
Once you allow your primer to dry (You probably only need to wait a couple hours, but I let it dry overnight.), it's time to paint the dresser. I was able to do the entire dresser with one small $3 sample of Behr flat paint in Marina Isle. It's one of my favorite paint colors. It looks amazing on furniture and is the perfect little aqua. To apply the paint you'll need an angled paintbrush and a small foam roller. I use the angled paintbrush to get into all the crevices and corners, and then I smooth everything with the small foam roller as I go, getting rid of any brushmarks. This will give you a flawless, factory-like, smooth finish. I did 2 coats, allowing it to fully dry between coats.
I put a tarp on my bedroom floor and painted it right there.
I'm a ridiculous person and I do not recommend this.
Once your paint has dried, it's time to seal it. This is the last step. I knew this dresser would be getting a lot of use and I needed it to be durable. So rather than wax it like I do to my chalk paint pieces (like this one), I decided to use polycrylic. If you need your paint job to be durable, go with polycrylic (affiliate link). Polycrylic is great because it's durable like Polyurethane, but it doesn't yellow over time and it's really low-odor. To apply your polycrylic, just brush it on with a high quality paint brush. I did 2 coats, allowing it to dry for several hours in between. If you can see any brushmarks, you can sand lightly with fine grit sand paper once the polycrylic is dry.
After the dresser was fully cured (about 24 hours), it was time to change the hardware. Changing the hardware is one of the best ways to update old furniture. Although the old hardware wasn't bad, and could have been easily updated with a coat of silver or ORB spray paint (seen here), I decided to try something new.
After finishing up my kitchen cabinets and being thrilled with the hardware from D. Lawless, I was browsing their store and found that they had an amazing selection of antique restoration hardware. I had been looking for something like this for a really long time, and was so excited.
It took me forever to decide, too, because there were tons to choose from. I eventually chose the stamped solid embellished brass bail pull.
These pulls were only $3.45.
Which is crazy talk.
The pulls were originally brass, but I wanted to spray paint them silver. The gold pull looked really chic and reminded me of my favorite kitchen island ever, but it just looked off when combined with the other furniture in the room. So, ultimately, I decided to spray paint the hardware.
I'm happy with the way it turned out after spray painting the hardware, and it feels like it just fits in with the rest of the bedroom.
A few hardware spray painting tips: Since I didn't want the pulls to be bright chrome, I decided to layer some spray paints. I sprayed the hardware first with the Rust-Oleum Bright Coat Chrome and then gave it a really fine misting with the Rust-Oleum Universal Pure Gold (affiliate links). I love the result. It ended up being a really pretty pewter, and because it has some dimension to it, it doesn't look so spray painted.
Here's a closeup of the hardware after being spray painted.
To finish everything, I added a few thrift store finds to the top of the dresser.
And whatever the cheapest flowers were at Kroger.
I found the starburst mirror at Costco for $20. It was originally an outdoor mirror, but whatever.
And that, friends, is the story of the blue dresser/how to paint laminate furniture! Thanks so much for being here.
Want more? Head over to this post and check out my top 10 thrift store furniture makeovers,
or this post where I answer your top 5 furniture paint questions!
'Til next time!