How to Paint Formica Bedroom Furniture

Written by elizabeth nickelaid
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That dated Formica bedroom furniture may still have a lot of life left. If the furniture is sturdy but you're tired of the way it looks, try painting it. It's the economical solution for families on a budget, and it keeps your dresser out of the landfill. Today's bonding primers have made the job as easy as any other painting job. Prime, paint and topcoat, and you have a whole new look in your bedroom.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Dust sheet
  • Bricks or wood blocks (optional)
  • Screwdriver or drill
  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Bonding primer
  • Paintbrush or small roller
  • Paint
  • Polyurethane
  • Fine-grit sandpaper

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  1. 1

    Lay down a dust sheet where you intend to paint and place the furniture on top of it to protect your floors. If possible, raise the furniture off the cloth by placing bricks or wood blocks at the corners to make painting the bottom edges easier.

  2. 2

    Use a drill or screwdriver to remove any hardware from the furniture. Set it aside until the end of the project.

  3. 3

    Clean the furniture with soap and water to remove any dirt and grime. Dry completely.

  4. 4

    Use a medium-grit sandpaper to rough up the surface of the Formica. Wipe it down with a tack cloth to remove any dust.

  5. 5

    Apply a coat of bonding primer with a paintbrush or small roller. Allow it to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  6. 6

    Apply a coat of paint with a brush or small roller. If necessary, let dry and apply a second coat.

  7. 7

    Apply two coats of polyurethane to protect your new paint finish. In between coats, sand lightly with fine-grit sandpaper.

  8. 8

    Reattach the hardware with a drill or screwdriver.

Tips and warnings

  • Tim Carter, a syndicated home improvement columnist, recommends oil-based paint for its superior adhesion, but you can also use latex. Whichever you choose, make sure the primer, paint and polyurethane are all the same: either oil-based or water-based.
  • Be sure your primer says that it's formulated for Formica and other smooth surfaces. These primers are usually referred to as bonding primers.
  • You may find it best to use both a paintbrush and a roller, depending on the design of your furniture. Rollers work well on larger expanses because they don't leave brush marks, but paintbrushes can easily get into crevices or carved areas.

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