Go Right Ahead and Paint That Laminate

By Kate Riley April 27, 2010

We’ve owned this laminate and particle board media center for about fifteen years.  It was purchased in the leaner years from a discount furniture store.   Back in the 90s, we used it in our family room to store all of our media equipment, but then we eventually moved it to the kids’ play space.  For the longest time (like most moms) I was just grateful for the storage it brought me and I didn’t care what color it was.

Then all of a sudden I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I was staring at the faux maple laminate last week and I decided the day had come.  It was time to paint it!  It’s not that I don’t like blonde wood, I just don’t like faux blonde wood.  It’s the fakeness that bothers me.

So it was time to rid my world of the maple tone and give it a fresh coat of white paint.  This is a relatively sturdy piece, so rather than go out and buy a new system, or build one myself, I determined the best way to save it was to simply paint it.  The best part of all is, I changed the look of this piece in 48 hours!

Here’s the Before:

ent center before


Here’s the After:

painted laminate ent center

Here’s how I painted my laminate storage center.   

Make sure you invest in the right primer.  This is absolutely key.  You absolutely must prime your laminate surface with a primer designed to adhere to glossy surfaces.  No ordinary primer will do.  There are several options out there, my best piece of advice is to read the back of the can.  Zinsser happens to be my primer of choice.  I’ve worked with others and I’ve been disappointed, so I always return to this product.

zinsser primer

Oil based Zinsser grips like glue in my opinion, and without sanding.   You can use the water based version by Zinsser in the blue can, but you really need to sand your surface beforehand, and you also must wait for the water based version to fully cure, which is a recommended 7 days.  Zinsser’s oil based primer dries in two hours, so I was able to apply two coats of primer in one day.

Roll your primer on your piece of furniture, then follow up with a brush in all the crevices.  This primer dries really fast, but if you want a longer time to work with your primer and minimize brush strokes, use an additive called Penetrol that I’ve talked about here and here

roll then brush

Many people shy away from oil based products because they require paint thinner or mineral spirits to clean up.  However, if you use a cheap roller and cheap brush (my combo costs less than $2 dollars), you can toss them out when you’re done and not have to worry about cleaning your brush or roller with mineral spirits.  But it’s good to have some on hand anyway just to get any paint off your hands !

roller and brush


Sand your primed piece with medium grade sanding pad to remove any drips, buildup or brush marks.  Follow up with two coats of your paint color of choice.  Use a better quality brush to minimize your brush strokes.  You can go right over oil based primer with latex paint. 

doors before and after

painted laminate ent center


While I was at it, I even painted these inexpensive mini cabinets to hold the kids movies and other toys.  I primed them with the same Zinsser oil based product, then gave them two coats of the new wall color, which is some leftover BM ‘Camouflage’ mixed in with some of the spring green from these chairs

Yes, my kids watch movies on a VCR – they’re cheap !  $1 dollar each at the local Goodwill, can’t beat that !

laminate shelves before and after 

And for those of you who are wondering, yes the giant map is still there, just on the opposite wall ! 

I am loving our ‘new’ storage system !!

ent center from side


Here’s a glimpse of the wall from last year’s post about the map room:

Last year:

west wall 2



painted laminate ent center in room 

Various bins and baskets from Target, Michaels and Pottery Barn.  I made the pillow cover with some Annie Selke fabric. 

So if you’ve got a laminate piece hanging around your house that you want to freshen, go ahead and paint it!   Got laminate countertops ?  Check out this post on Our Suburban Cottage !  Want to use water based primer instead ?  Visit Lindsay and see how she transformed her laminate armoire.

I’m adding this to Kimba’s DIY Day over at A Soft Place to Land, hop on over and check out all the great DIY links ! 

Oh yes you can paint that laminate !   Yeehaw !



  1. I always buy my daughter’s Disney movies and others from Goodwill. You would be crazy not to! Thanks for the inspiring post.

  2. Wow! That piece looks great – so crisp and new. I did read Lindseys post on painting laminate so that I could start painting a cheap-o credenza for our office. By the time I let the first coat cure, I had moved on to other projects and there it still sits (only partially primed!) So I think I will go with your primer and finish it up!

  3. Very nice outcome! I hate to clean up with mineral spirits too, so I also toss the brushes (stealthily) in the trash. The last time I painted laminate was about 12 years ago. Poor husband was not happy when he came home (from living it up in California, I might add) and saw what I’d done :)

  4. Thanks so much for this. I love that you don’t have to sand the nasty laminate. One question…do you find that books/video cases tend to stick to the paint? I’ve painted some bookcases before and had that problem, but I’m not sure what I did wrong. Do I need to follow up the paint with some poly?

  5. Hi Cecily ! I haven’t had that problem. I used a flat latex paint and let it completely dry, so no problems with anything sticking to the paint. A coat of Polycrylic will help protect your paint job, but I didn’t deem it necessary in this case. In fact, the kids are already sliding their baskets around and no scratches yet – it’s that primer that holds the paint on the piece. Read the post at Our Suburban Cottage that I linked to- she used a protective coat over her paint on her countertops for added protection. Perhaps send AnNicole an email and ask her how the additional coat has helped protect her surface.


  6. Kate, this was so helpful! We’ve got some ugly old laminate pieces leftover from my husband’s bachelor days that I’d love to revamp because we need the storage! This is a much nicer option than buying new stuff. Thanks, girl!

  7. looks great! i wish my goodwill had good items like the ones you find. and my gw is sooo expensive!

  8. Wow, the new storage unit looks amazing! This post couldn’t have come at a better time as I have been wanting to paint an old laminate dresser for a while now. If you don’t mind, could you tell me what kind of white paint you used on the unit? It looks like that “perfect” crisp white I am going for. Thanks in advance!

  9. Hi Jessie !

    That’s ‘Swiss Coffee’ – it’s an industry color, most paint companies have the formula. I chose it because it matches my trim and I already had a gallon in my garage !


  10. That looks terrific! Your blog is great, I’m so glad I stumbled upon it!
    Now, I must log off my computer and go paint my ugly laminate kitchen countertops!

  11. Great post! Lots of good information. Your storage space shows up so much better now. I love it! And we still use vcr tapes too. You just can’t beat the price, and I don’t have the heart to throw out good disney movies just because they are on tape. :)

  12. Kate that looks so much better! Really fresh.
    do you have a staple gun? Because I have seen fabric fixed over the back of open shelving like that and it looks really finished…

  13. Bravo!!! It truly is amazing what a transformation some paint can do! I’ve primed and painted a laminate piece before…I didn’t use anything special, but I wish I had b/c I know it won’t hold up forever.

    My girls have bunches of Disney movies on VHS too. :) I can usually find them for anywhere from 0.25 to $1.00 at yard sales or Salvation Army. We have some new DVDs too, but I love finding my old favorites on VHS (Pete’s Dragon or Mickey Mouse, anyone?) :)

  14. It looks new and so much better! I would have thought it would scratch too easily to use it like this. I guess it just shows that if you use the correct products, you can paint almost anything.

  15. Good to know! They look great.

    I’m with you on the VHS movies – so cheap and we already had an old TV/VCR combo. Plus, easy for the kids to operate!

  16. Wow…that looks fantastic! I love the amazing results that can be achieved with paint.

    I have an 8 foot long work table that is made of wood, but the top has some kind of laminate veneer on it. Have you ever painted that type of thing? It is a great table, but the top is U.G.L.Y. After reading this, I am thinking I can probably paint it if I use a good primer…YAH!

    Thanks for the inspiration, as always.


  17. AWESOME! I’m inspired! I have a dresser that desperately needs some paint, and you’ve given me much needed inspiration. Great job!!

  18. Kate, it looks wonderful! I personally love Zinssers B-I-N primer for laminate projects. It is shellac-based, so it dries within minutes and sticks like glue to glossy surfaces. Plus, it’s very thin so it doesn’t create a build-up like some thicker primers can (no need for penetrol!). The only problem is you need to clean up with Denatured Alcohol, but that is the same issue as with oil-based, just a different solvent.

  19. Tidy Brown Wren –

    If painting a dark color or black, absolutely have your primer tinted ! The oil based Zinsser in the brown can is tintable, but the primer can only be tinted to a medium gray shade at best. Zinsser does have a ‘deep tint’ primer which will tint very dark but note that it’s water based and takes the same week long period of time to fully harden.


  20. WOW Kate that looks gorgeous! I would’ve never guessed it was laminate! I have phased out most of my laminate pieces but still (unfortunately) have a few billy bookcases from Ikea. I doubt that they’ll make it through this move in 2 weeks though…not like I would be unhappy about that lol.

  21. Go on with your laminate painting self. The finished product looks beautiful. Where do you find the time to do it all???

  22. Thank you for taking the time to share this. I have some old laminate furnature I wanted to paint and well — now I can when the time is right.

  23. Thank you for this post, I have an old laminate kitchen table that I have been wanting to paint but was not sure how. Now I know thanks a bunch.

  24. Great tips! I’ve been wanting to paint my daughter’s laminate dresser for some time now, but didn’t know how to start. My mother sent me the link to your blog today. Love it!

  25. I’m really hoping we can find the right product to adhere to glossy surfaces. (We live in Argentina.) Sherwin Williams has a store here and that’s where we’ve had the best success finding good quality paint and supplies. We have a kitchen to re-vamp that has old laminate everywhere. And I do mean everywhere!

  26. I was just talking to my girlfriend about painting her laminate tv center, too funny!!! I’m sending this over to her, she will love you for it :)

  27. I just love this post! Thanks for sharing. I saw a little tiny article about painting laminate countertops (in a kitchen) in that 100 decorating ideas under $100 or something like that magazine. There is a NEW product out that combines primer AND the latex paint to specifically use on a laminate countertop. I bought some (it’s even tintable by the paint people) and I can’t wait to use it on my countertops. I thought you might be able to use it on laminate furniture but your way is probably much more economically sound. Thanks again for sharing.


  28. Wow, I am sooooo glad you posted about this!!! About 2 weeks ago I painted our laminate kitchen cabinets a white color. I bought a primer (can’t remember the name) that claimed would adhere to slippery surfaces, even tile. I used it, followed the instructions to wait 24 hours, then proceeded to paint them with the standard kitchen latex paint. 2 coats, by the way. To my frustration, the darn paint peels off so easily. If I grab a cabinet to open it and avoid using the hardware, the paint slides right off. I was puzzled but after reading your post I see why. I’ll have to repaint them and this time with an oil based primer. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. By the way, I LOVE your blog and appreciate tremendously the inspiration you give me with all your fabulous ideas. Keep on being fabulous!


  29. Kate-the cabinet looks fab! Have you ever painted any of that “pseudo” wood trim that’s not quite MDF and not quite real wood but more of a strand wood? I have it all around my baseboards and windows and it is so builder’s grade circa 2000 when my house was built. Any insight as to whether your laminate treatment might work on the baseboard and window trim? Thanks so much Kate for sharing all of your ideas and projects!

  30. Oh it looks so refreshed. I love it when you can take a piece of existing furniture you have and give it a new look with the new pricetag. Great job my dear.

  31. Great job. You are the painting master! I have to say that you love redoing furniture and you are great at it.

  32. This is exactly the post I needed; thank you! I’ve got a laminate cabinet that I’m dying to spiff up. It’s very plain, so I’m thinking of adding some trim and painting it. I love your suggestion for the primer.

  33. Thank you so much for the post—I’ve been ruminating for months over what to do about a laminate dresser. I really had no clue, and because I had no clue, i just kept putting it off, but now that you’ve made it so easy, I could tackle it this weekend! Thanks so much!

  34. Thanks You for the post. I have got a laminate table that has gotten a lot of use and is needing an update. I think I am going to dive in and five it a try.

  35. Aha! Where was this post a week ago? Eek! I needed this info. Now I’ve got an oops to fix. Thank you so much for this post!

  36. thank you so much for this post…are there any tips for starting out with a darker piece? or should I just follow these instructions?

  37. Oh my goodness…this came just in time for me!! I was just about to tackle the daunting project of painting 3 HUGE (and ugly) laminate bookshelves we inherited from my in-laws. I was heading to Home Depot for some primer and I’m so glad I have your recommendation first! I had no idea how to do this and I just found the Bible of painting furntiure on your site. haha! Thank you so much for posting!

  38. LOVE the new look, especially against the wall color. What is the green on the walls? Thanks.

  39. Oh no! Another thing on my extremely long to-do list (I haven’t even gotten to my piano yet) are laminate bookshelves and entertainment center. The color went well in my apartment, but it does not match my new house. I’ve bookmarked this post so I remember what primer you use! I was dreading having to sand laminate (in like… a year from now).

  40. What a difference! Thanks for this, have been thinking about painting some Ikea desks in our office but wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Am feeling inspired after your post!

  41. Hi there, that came up great! I actually started my furniture painting ‘career’ on laminate pieces so I could practice my technique and get it right…lucky for me my first piece came up better than I imagined, it turns out I have some natural talent for this! Here in New Zealand we have a fantastic product by Resene called Smooth Surface Sealer, and it is waterbased. It is magic stuff….I have even painted over mirrors in the back of china cabinets and you wouldn’t know once the paint top coats are done.

  42. Wow! I was wondering what I had done wrong with the bookshelf I just painted a week ago. I had primed it, then painted it and then, when it was too late, I realized you good scrap off the paint with a fingernail……..so disappointing! It looks great but I’m not sure for how long. Well, at least I now know what I did wrong and won’t make the same mistake again!

    By the way…..your media center looks GREAT!

  43. This is a great tip to pass on to as many people as possible. Many people have laminate! I am featuring this at somedaycrafts.blogspot.com

  44. Your armoire came out beautifully! I’ve got a few pieces of laminate that I’ll be practicing on eventually now!

    Have you seen the products that “claim” to provide coverage that’s sturdy on laminate counter tops? Am very curious what your take would be on painting those since they are usually high traffic areas like the kitchen and bath. I’m not quite ready to take that plunge yet.

  45. Thanks, I’ve painted laminate before, but haven’t used a primer. I think this will make things a heck of a lot easier now.

  46. I want to paint my laminate bookshelf. Will the paint scratch off when pulling books of the shelf? Oh, and what color did you use on your kitchen cabinets? Thanks

  47. I have always shied away from painting laminate, but now I see I really need to give it a go. Your media cabinet looks fantastic! I’m always finding cheap laminate bookcases, but I never buy them. I have been a fool. Thanks for this post! You are awesome.

  48. thank you for sharing!!! i have something laminate that i want to paint but i didn’t know if it would work. now i know it will!!

  49. That is good to know! I have bookmarked this post for future project reference. I wish I had known about this process before I gave up my laminate dresser from childhood (since I had limited room during our last move and it was 1970’s hideous, heh). Thanks so much for sharing this info with your readers!

  50. WOW! Thanks for giving me some hope with laminate! It is inspiring to see how much of a transformation that made. Thanks also for the tip on the oil based primer. I HATE to sand stuff! The hubs usually ends up doing that part so now if I tell him about the primer trick, he will love you too!

  51. This is so awesome. I am going to paint my kitchen cabinets white soon and I will use your blog as a reference.

    May I ask what color green is on the walls of this room? I love it!

  52. Thank you for sharing how you did this. I didn’t think it was possible, but am so glad there is a way to do it.

    Has the paint held up well so far?

  53. They are beautiful. I have an older lingerie chest with formica on the top, it’s on my list of re-do’s so I’m hoping this same Zinser Primer will work on formica. Thanks for all of your suggestions and for being the one who tests it first !!!

  54. Great info! I have a laminate dresser that I’ve always wanted to paint. Did you use oil or latex paint over the primer?

  55. How do you know when to use a sealer on a piece of furniture? Did you put anything over your paint on this project? I am worried about paint scraping off of shelves.

  56. Wonderful! Did you know that there’s a countertop paint which you can buy at any home improvement store, made especially for laminate? We just painted our kitchen countertops, and I LOVE THEM now!! We had painted our cabinets white a year ago, got white appliances, but our counters were still beige. Now they’re tan, and it looks fabulous :)

  57. This is the single most useful tutorial I have found on the internet! We are painting out laminate kitchen cabinets and with your help, they have a chance to turn out great! I loveeeeeee your site, tackling a headboard next. Thanks so much for sharing all of your ideas!

  58. Great blog! quick question, what finish did you use for the white paint?

    Thanks for sharing! This is awesome! I have the Hemnes dresser as well and I wanted to update the color, as well as some laminate bookcases I want to update! Thanks!

  59. I was just at Home Depot and was so excited to see this oil based Zinnser primer in a spray can! I have a couple laminate pieces to paint for our new baby’s room and the spray can should make the priming so much faster and easier. (Though I think I have to wait to do it til after the baby is born since it’s an oil based product.)

  60. Loving the laminate painting info and the unit looks great.

    A little tip for you: instead of using a chemical to remove the paint from your skin I use cooking oil! it helps break down the oil in the paint and I rub it on my hands and then wash off with a hand soap…it may take a few goes to get it all off, but it saves my skin getting dried out by the chemical paint remover ;)

  61. You’re my hero! Ive been staring at a laminate t.v. stand for 2 years trying to muster the gumption to paint it, I stumbled across your page this morning searching for tips on how to transform my Oak table and spent 2 hours admiring your work and voila I saw this and I finally have the courage to go for it, in fact this message is short because I’m headed to the hardware store to pick up some Zinsser primer. Thank you for the inspiration, your work is beautiful!

  62. Do you have any tips on fixing up a botched job….BEFORE finding this article I primed (with the water based primer) and then painted right away…. so needlessly to say the paint just scratched right off – any way I can fix this – do I need to sand all the previous paint job right off… or can I just sand the parts that are scratched and then reprime… any ideas?

  63. Now that it has been a few months, is the paint is staying put? I want to paint a couple of laminate pieces I have, but I don’t want my hubby to be able to say that ever annoying, “I told you so.” lol =) Anyway, thank you!

  64. I have this post bookmarked! I have some awful kitchen cabinets that I have been putting off painting because I didn’t want to sand. I love the way your cabinet came out (so cute AND organized!)

  65. Hello Kate, I’m writing you from Argentina (sorry if my English is not so good!!) This primer is in Argentina (Rustoleum has a branch here), so I wonder if you kwow I could paint this chandelier using, first, the primer, and then, at last, the paint. I’m not sure if the chandelier is of bronze. http://lh5.ggpht.com/_nBY4hUD_lh4/TUCls4otudI/AAAAAAAABHM/Pb0-bm3W2D8/3.jpg. Then I think, I woud paint with paint in spray (aerosol). And, I also have this piece of furniture (a wardrobe). It is finished in shellack (goma laca). http://lh3.ggpht.com/_nBY4hUD_lh4/TUCmoQ09MtI/AAAAAAAABHU/RZNXe8IvzbI/s512/HPIM2036.JPG Do you know if I could use the primer wihthout sanding? Thanks a lot, and greetings from Argentina.

  66. Just wondering if the paint has lasted? I have an Expedit book case in black (which I regret) but the kids put all their toys in it and slide baskets in and out.

    Does the oil based paint and primer stand up to that treatment.

    You give me hope! :)

  67. BEYOND FABULOUS! Ooooo do I have plans…hubby will not understand (lots of eye rolling) but the results will be killah!

  68. Does anyone know if you can use a metallic paint with this process (to paint laminate furniture)? I am eager to try this out and would love to pain an old laminate table with a metallic (silver) paint. Would this still work? I am incredibly novice and think maybe I should just stick to normal paint but am not sure what other color would work. I’d really appreciate any tips. Thanks.

  69. Just refinished a cheap Ikea dresser to look give it a more polished look. These directions were a huge help and worked perfectly. Thank you!

  70. I was wondering how the finish is holding up, after sliding things across it often? Getting ready to do some bookcases for my office, and I need to make sure it will be pretty durable.

    Thanks for the great advice on here for painting laminate!

  71. OMG, thank you so much for the how to. I just bought a large dresser type furniture and have seen a couple of blogs that inspired me but not very much details on the how to. I wrote my notes down and will hopefully start this weekend. Thanks again!

  72. Okay question, once you have the rolled & brushed oil based primer on would you use spray paint for your color coats? I am really concerned about brush strokes but it is a rather large piece. Any suggestions or tips? Thanks!

  73. We had our home painted by professional painters three years ago, and when I asked them about some of our ugly but very functional laminate furniture, they told me to paint it. I’ve been a skeptical about the possible outcome. After seeing your photos, I’m definitely encouraged! It’s going to take work and patience, but I just don’t see the need to go out an buy more furniture. Thank you for taking time to share these photos and details.

  74. Oh how I wish I would have learned this a year ago! I painted a laminate cubby which was mostly successful, but I cannot tell you how many coats of paint it took. And then I never finished the inside “ceilings” of the cubbies because I was just exhausted. This post gives me new encouragement to finish that cubby and also paint these two hideous discount book shelves I have. Thanks so much!

  75. OMG! You dont KNOW…how valuable this info is for me right now!!! I have UGLY furniture that I bought about 7 years ago..wasnt ugly then! hahahaha still its the same type of furniture. I will be doing this on the weekend! ~*~ Priscilla!

  76. Your media center looks great! I’m actually wanting to do the same to mine but i would like to use metallic paints to give it that old hollywood mirrored effect. Would anyone have any tips on how to go about doing that?

  77. I am SO glad I found your blog! It is incredibly inspirational to me. I am about to embark on my first laminate painting job, and you’ve given me great hope that it can be a success. Consider yourself bookmarked.


  78. This inspired me to paint my entertainment center. HOWEVER, in the lovely state of Ohio, there was no oil based Zinser to be found – so I got the latex version. I’m proud of myself for being so patient (OMW, it’s so hard!!), but it’s been 4 days, and I can scratch it off still. Boo on you Ohio and your stinkin ban on oil based lovliness. Hopefully a miracle happens in the next 3 days. :)

  79. Hey! Thanks for this tutorial. I was just wondering about peeling the laminate before you paint. Did you peel it all off first? Or paint over it? Did it peel up anywhere after it’s been painted and used?

    Can’t wait to start this project tonight!!

  80. After reading your post, I’m thinking that I could actually paint my cabinets in the kitchen!!

    I love the look of white cabinets and think it would really brighten up my kitchen.

    I did have a question… when painting the piece after priming, do you use the roller or just a brush? If you use the brush, what size brush did you use? And how do you prevent brush strokes?

  81. Thanks for this article! It isnpired me to try to paint my nasty bookcase of dark brown wood laminate/over particleboard. I wiped it down but did not sand it as it was so old anyway. I bought some lime green spray paint (Valspar for PLASTICS) and it worked great. Took 3 cans and lots of coats but you only have to wait 5-10 minutes between coats. It looks like I did it with a roller for $15.

  82. thank you thank you thank you thank you!!! I have been wondering for YEARS if I could do this, but never really bothered to research! Thank you so much for this tutorial. Now for some paint shopping!!

  83. We wanted to paint with acrylic paint hand prints on a bench that is pressed board/finished laminate.
    Is that possible? we do not want to sand or prime it…will the paint stick?
    Thank you so much for your help….I have googled it so much but with no luck

    • Hi Maria, unfortunately most acrylic paints will not stay permanent without a primer between the laminate and the acrylic paint. It might “stick” at first, but it will easily scratch off. To make it permanent, use a layer of primer designed for laminates or glossy surfaces.

  84. I have been planning on painting my already white laminate kitchen cabinets for a while. My only concern is if they peel off or scratch off with frequent use? That would be worse that just leaving them like they are. I have also used that Zinsser product to paint all the workwork in my previous house, as they had spray laquered it after painting it and it worked well. I just don’t want to end up with a scuffed mess. Has anyone put theres to heavy use yet?

    • Hi Patty, I used Zinsser Cover Stain (with Penetrol additive) to paint my kitchen island, no scuffs to date and it’s been two years. The island was painted wood, not laminate, but I’ve used the Zinsser CS on several laminate projects (entertainment center, credenza, shelving) and have been very pleased with the way it holds up. I prefer it to any other bonding primer for laminate or glossy surfaces. Good luck with your kitchen painting project!

  85. I painted my laminated (fake wood) paneling in my family room and it looks so great! I also used the Zinsser oil-based primer….it has lasted for years (we did it about ten years ago)! it’s a great product to use…highly recommend it!

  86. I have been trying to find the best way to paint furniture. I look up different tutorials and simply try different things for each of my project. I have never used the oil based primer followed by latex paint combo. I’ve used latex paint in the past and it had stuck to items that I put on the piece. Does it not do that with an oil based primer? Or do you put a clear coat (like polycyclic) over it?

    Thanks so much for the info!

    ♥ from my blog to yours!

    • Hi Ansley, you can always layer latex or oil based paint over oil based primer, but it doesn’t work that well the other way around – I wouldn’t put oil based paint on top of latex primer, but most of the water based paints these days are so great there’s no need to use oil based paints, the modern enamels are especially nice for furniture.

  87. Kate, thank you so much for this tutorial! I’m curious about spray paint… I’ve just heard it’s tons easier to deal with. If I use the mentioned oil based primer, what type of spray paint would I use? Thanks again so much!!!

    • Hi Abby, you can use any spray paint over the oil based primer, I like the RustOleum brand.

  88. Hi, I painted a laminate table top today, after reading your wonderful blog post. I used exactly the same primer (it’s actually made in Australia, woohoo!) and did everything you said, exactly as you said. No I didn’t sand first. I have put one top coat on and just taken a look at it and there is a chip off the top already. I put my finger nail across it and the paint just all came off. Plus I have major tanin stains on the legs. Isn’t it meant to be a stain blocker? I shook the can before I applied (which is says is okay on the can). I can only guess it might not have been mixed properly. Any ideas? I’m really disappointed with the result. Thanks, Julie

    • Hi Julie, so sorry to read this! I haven’t had that kind of problem with the Cover Stain, but yes, it does need to be mixed properly. Also I’m a big believer in scuffing up a piece first with a sanding wedge to “open the pores” to help the primer grab on. I’m so sorry you’re having a bad experience, I have had nothing but success with the product which is why I’m always using it. Try sanding it down in the problem spots and reapplying. Good luck!

  89. Want to paint my bathroom cabinets quickly and slightly painless process 1st time-original 94 ones as kitchen are too–what type paint product should I get and keep with the primer and minor sanding? Any thoughts on something call bull 1-2-3 or something similar named, My color choice something teal/purplish as gt tiling finally..and next steps will be bathroom walls
    Appreciate any help and tips. Since currently unemployed

  90. I don’t know if anyone has mentioned it but I read somewhere that vegtable oil will take it off your hands so when I decided to upcycle an entertainment center into a play kitchen of course I got it all over my hands… and arms.. and legs.. and feet.. don’t ask :) anyway I thought I would try the veg oil before I sent hubby out for something and it worked great!!!!! even took it right outta the brush and roller!!

    • Yes isn’t it great Jennifer! Vege oil works perfectly for removing from skin. I haven’t had as great a success with brushes so for those I still use mineral spirits. Thanks for sharing your tip!

  91. I swear by Zinsser primer – it’s like a miracle in a can. Your cabinets came out gorgeous!!! Hmmmm, I think I want to paint a few things. Thanks for the tip!

  92. Do they make a zero VOC version? I dont like to be exposed to the poisons in most paints.

    • Hi Jones, Zinsser makes a low VOC water based primer, but it doesn’t cling as well to laminates IMHO.

  93. Awesome post! If you don’t want to keep harmful materials like mineral spirits around you can use plain coconut or cooking oil to remove the oil paint from your hands. Like removes like, I use this trick all the time works great + you have nice soft hands when you are done :)

  94. I just purchased some cheap furniture from a model home furniture sale. The laminate is dark and I want to change the color. Knowing that I could use your tutorial for reference, I went ahead and made the purchases. My projects will be a 3 panel hinged shutter screen and a small desk. I’m really excited to begin.

  95. Hi! I am so excited about this post. I am only wondering about the piece I want to paint. It is the bathroom vanity and I was wondering if there was an extra step like a finishing coat of something I should add being that it is the bathroom (steam, water splashes, etc).


    • Hi Michelle, I’d use an enamel paint, they are harder and glossier and easier to wipe down, or you can use a protective coat like Polycrylic.

  96. Thank you! I’ve been searching for this for years! Thank you – now I cannot wait to get working!

  97. Hello –

    I am wanted to paint a dresser for my babies nursery. I am pregnant so I am worried about fumes with oil based primers. I did find that Zinsser carries an odorless oil based primer. Do you think that would work just as well without sanding the dresser first?


    • Hi Carissa, I don’t think Zinsser’s oil based primer is odorless, I believe it’s their new and improved water based formula. I tried it once but went back to the oil based, I find it more durable, but you certainly can work with the low VOC version if you prefer.

  98. Hi Kate!
    Did you sand between coats of primer or just slap another coat on top of the first one? Also, are any of your children of the toddler variety and, if so, how do you convince them to take long enough naps to paint an entire piece of furniture?!

    Totally dig your blog!! Thanks for sharing the wealth (of knowledge!!)

    • Hey Melanie! I did have toddlers once and yes, painting during naptime was a habit back then~
      I only sand any drips or brush marks in between coats, and always lightly, but often it’s not necessary.

  99. Thank you for your very clear and thorough explanation and photos of your painting project. Very helpful!

  100. Thank you for illustrating and explaining how to paint laminates. I’m looking forward to trying your techniques on several pieces of mine. I will do a follow up with you. I may include pictures of my work. One thing at a time for me. It’s painting laminate and then taking digital pictures.
    Have a great day.

  101. Hey there I was wondering what about cabinets? Same thing? I have cabinets from probably the 80’s and I want them WHITE! So just follow your steps? I do believe they are laminet and they are glossy. Thanks so much for posting this!!!! I’m THRILLED to find this out!!!!

  102. Hello! I absolutely love what you did with this piece! This would be perfect for my little ones toy room. I know it was purchased a long time ago, but I would love to find the same unit or one similar. Would you happen to remember the discount furniture store you got it from? I’ve been looking everywhere and I haven’t had any luck. Let me know if you remember. Great job and thanks!!!!

    Meredith Galo

  103. I love, love, love the paint color on the walls, which on my iPad looks like a muted grey green with a hint of yellow.. Can you provide the details so I can copy this ;).

    • Hi Lori that was a custom mix, but all of the colors of paint on the walls in my home can be seen when you click that tab in the lower sidebar!

  104. I love your blog. I notice you use chalk paint quite a bit on your projects – although not this one. I’ve read you don’t need to use a primer with chalk paint – is that true? And is it true for laminate furniture? I’ve got an Ikea cabinet that I’d LOVE to paint. :) Thanks so much!

  105. I’m wondering how it’s holding up? Any flaking/peeling/chipping? I have a few pieces that I’d rather paint than pay to replace, and if this tolerates every day use, I may try my hand at it.

  106. I painted a laminate dresser and bookshelf white a couple of years ago using the same primer. Both pieces began chipping only a couple of months later. Do you know what I maybe did wrong? And to repaint them how do I get the old paint off of a laminate surface to try again? Thanks!

    • Hi Nikki, I’m not sure what went wrong in your case. There’s no need to strip the units, but you might try this product for chipping and/or peeling.
      If you painted with latex, you can repaint over it with more latex paint after you’ve repaired the chips/peels.

  107. Do you put any kind of finish on afterwards? Like polyurethane or something like that? Soooo, going to try this with our wood and laminate built in entertainment center. That honey oak color has GOT to go. ;)

  108. Love this post. I will be working on painting some laminate this weekend. Question for you, though. The stuff i will be painting is already white. Do I still need to prime? I didn’t know if the primer was more for covering the wood finish or to help the paint stick better (or both even). Thanks for your help.

    • Yes Kevin the primer serves the purpose of bonding the paint to the laminate surface.

  109. Now that Spring has finally showed up the past few weeks, I will be getting out in the garage and sorting out and weeding out of things in those cabinets. I looked in the paint cabinet and there are a lot of paints that I feel need to go. I spied a gallon can of Zinnser Stain blocker/primer and wondering now how long that would keep or if I should just take it to landfill. I thought DH had written on the top of can the date we purchased it but didn’t see that information but know that it has been about 4 years since any painting was done around here.

    High Schools can always use left over paint fro painting props so if the paint isn’t too old, call and offer it to the drama dept.

    If I were doing a small side table, do you think that Zinnser would still be good to use for a primer?
    Is there a specific type of paint roller that you use for painting furniture or do you do all of it by paint brush or spray paint?

  110. Hello,

    I have a table, that has a fake wood panel, I’m trying to paint over it, for a custom table. All my spray paint, keeps cracking and looks horrible. Is this primer what I need to do the table to stop the cracking?

    • Yes Nicole, you need to prime any faux wood surface like laminate or veneer first before painting. :)

  111. I’m wondering how spray primer works? Would it work just as well? What are your expert thoughts? :)

  112. I use cover stain as a primer almost exclusively. Instead of tossing your roller you can put it in the freezer. I have done this and weeks later when you thaw it out it can be used again. (I do have an extra freezer though, it might stink up your freezer if you only have one.)

  113. HELP! I used the cover stain primer over a large desk that I thought might be to glossy for just my homemade chalk paint to adhere to. the only way I could apply it was with a roller. Its been a couple hours and the texture is awful from the roller(all bumpy). I tried to sand it smooth and it won’t sand. still has that awful texture. I should have just used the chalk paint. is there any way I can get a smooth texture or brushed on texture. I’m panicking

  114. Well, I am the painter in the house. We have had a few houses in the past, and I have painted every room. My husband says I should be a professional. But when we bought our most recent home, and I saw that someone had put up laminate countertop material on the walls in my guest bathroom, I thought I would have to do a demo. I much prefer to make repairs and restore. So, after reading your site and a few others online, I am now going to tackle this project, as well as restore the cabinets. Then I will replace the mirror, lighting, and hardware perhaps going to a Habitat store. So, much less expensive than a demo and I can do it myself. Thanks!!

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