How to Refinish a Wood Laminate Table With Scratches

Updated April 17, 2017

Once you've scratched your laminate table, you don't have many options for salvaging the table. Laminate is a textured, plastic-like surface that covers more porous medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and particle board. Since laminate is not real wood, you cannot simply sand and re-stain. Fortunately, you can refinish your table at home with a relatively low budget before even thinking of buying a new table.

Measure the areas of the table that are going to be covered with the new veneer contact paper. These areas usually include the table top and its edge.

Cut the sheets of contact paper according to the measurements taken. If using contact paper that mimics a wood grain or is comprised of a print, take caution when you line up the areas visually.

Apply the paper to the table, starting at a corner, slowly moving across the top edge and carefully moving downward. Use a rubber brayer to apply pressure to make the paper stick and to roll away any air bubbles that may appear.

Disassemble the table with a screwdriver as necessary and remove the legs to make painting easier. Tape off any areas that you want to protect from the paint.

In order to prepare the table to accept primer and paint, scuff the surface by sanding the table with 200-grit sandpaper. Sand until the sheen is removed and white specs are visible. Blow away the majority of the sanding dust, and wipe down the surface with a tack cloth to remove the remaining dust.

Apply a single coat of a primer made to adhere to plastics and other trick surfaces, like Zinsser Bull's Eye 1-2-3 Primer or Rustoleum's Plastic Spray Primer. Use a synthetic brush to wipe on a very light coat of primer. Let dry for an hour and apply a second coat. Let dry overnight.

Wipe or spray on a single thin coat of acrylic latex paint in long but even strokes across the entire table surface. Let coat dry for an hour before applying a second coat. A third coat may be necessary.

Apply a clean wipe-on polyurethane finish to the table to protect the paint job. Follow the directions specified on the varnish you have chosen.


A thin coat will always lead to a professional-looking final product. Spray paints and primers will leave less evidence of the human hand and give you a cleaner finish.


Not allowing primers to dry fully can potentially damage the final look of your table.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Masking tape
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Acrylic latex paint
  • Polyurethane varnish (optional)
  • Clean rags
  • Tack cloth
  • Contact paper
  • Measuring tape
  • Cutting Board
  • Utility Knife
  • Rubber Brayer
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About the Author

Darren White is a third-year student studying photography and art history at Haverford College. Raised in the Philadelphia area, he has followed its art scene for some time, which has influenced his column, The Fashion File, that he writes for the "Bi-Co News." He also writes, edits and photographs for Haverford's fashion magazine, "Feathers & Fur."