Essence of DIY: How to Paint Laminate Furniture

Outdated laminate furniture is so gross. Part of my Home Office Makeover included flipping some ugly laminate bookcases that my dad had housing tons of things that were collecting dust. These things — and this woody color — were all the rage in the 80’s and 90’s. I know. I was there. I lived it. 


I’d show you the “before” but these were covered by a mattress box spring.

They are no longer the rage. It’s 2016.

However, buying new bookcases seemed like a waste of money when I had pretty good bookcases already, so I decided I would make them fancy. I would take on a scary task: I would paint laminate furniture.


Here’s the empty, in the garage “before” picture.

Laminate furniture can seem so scary to paint, but I’m here to tell you, it’s not. It’s actually so easy all because of this wonderful paint called primer. Wild concept, I know.

I am a HUGE fan of Zinsser’s BIN Primer/Sealer, which also has a built-in stain blocker. I used this stuff to paint the wood paneling in my den a few years ago and seriously–not a chip. It’s amazing and saves so much time on sanding. Also, it comes in spray paint form and you know how I feel about spray paint.

Once you prime your bookcases, what color you paint them is really up to you. I used Benjamin Moore’s “Ultra White” (CC-10) in just the regular boring “Ben” formula. These were just bookcases so I didn’t need any super-premium paint, but I prefer both the Regal and the Aura if you’re painting a room or trim. (I used the Aura to paint the office in “Chocolate Mousse”.)


So … all you have to do is: 

  • Empty out those nifty laminate furniture piece you have hanging around.
  • Wipe ’em down with a damp rag to remove dust, etc.
  1. Using the paint brush of your choice (I like 1 1/2 inch natural bristle) coat entire bookcase (or other furniture piece) with primer. Let dry.
  2. Apply a second coat of primer and let dry.
  3. Paint your bookcases with your selected color.
  4. Let dry.
  5. Enjoy your fancy new bookcases! 

It’s really that easy. 

I wasn’t done there though … as you can see, I also stenciled the inside of the bookcase. BOY was that fun. I definitely learned a lot about stenciling, something I’d never tried before …

All about that experience, coming soon!

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