How to paint laminate furniture

Laminate furniture is produced when a thin sheet of plastic laminate is adhered to a piece of particle board. The particle board is what gives the furniture piece its stability, while the laminate serves more of an aesthetic purpose. Laminated particle board is commonly used in the production of office furniture, shelving, cabinets and bedroom furniture, because it is durable and economical. If you have laminate furniture, and have recently redecorated, you may be wondering if you can paint your pieces to match. The answer is yes, and it is very easy to do.

Clean the laminate furniture with a sponge and a mild soap and water mixture. Dishwashing detergent works well to remove any dirt or grime build-up that may be on the surface of the furniture.

Sand the laminate with fine grit sandpaper. The paint will adhere better to the laminate if it is given a little bit of texture, and a light sanding should do the trick.

Use a soft cloth to wipe away any dust that has accumulated on the laminate after sanding. You wouldn't want any of the sanded fibres to end up in your paint, so wipe the laminate down thoroughly.

Prime the laminate furniture piece with an oil-based primer. The primer will add an additional base for your chosen paint colour to adhere to. Allow the primer to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Paint the laminate furniture piece with a paint colour of your choice. Oil paint has the best adhesion, but it is still OK to use latex if the furniture piece is not going to get a lot of wear and tear.

Allow the paint to dry, and follow up with another coat if necessary. In most cases you will only need two coats of paint over the laminate.


Using a foam roller for priming and painting will give you a smoother finish, and eliminate the need to backtrack in order to cover up brush marks. Oil-based paints and primers can not be cleaned off of brushes and rollers with water, so it is a good idea to keep some white spirit on hand for cleaning brushes and rollers. Placing brushes and rollers in Ziploc baggies in between coats will keep them from drying out.


Make sure you are working in a well ventilated area when applying oil based paints and primers. The fumes from these products can be hazardous.

Things You'll Need

  • Mild detergent
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Soft cloth
  • Oil based primer
  • Paint
  • Brushes or rollers
  • White spirit
  • Ziploc baggies
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About the Author

Jonae Fredericks started writing in 2007. She also has a background as a licensed cosmetologist and certified skin-care specialist. Jonae Fredericks is a certified paraeducator, presently working in the public education system.