Brad and I’s most recent DIY project was an elaborate wall of built-ins from IKEA Billy Bookcases. You can read more about that project here. As part of that project we were faced with the daunting task of painting four 9′ tall Billy Bookcases because the trim in our house is a cream color instead of bright white. I was super nervous that my paint job would ruin all the hard work we had put in to build the bookcases into our wall. IKEA bookcases are laminate, and laminate is a tough surface to paint.
So I did some research and wanted to share below what I have uncovered about the trick to getting a great paint job on laminate furniture!
The primer you need to paint laminate furniture (coincidentally our kitchen remodeler was also using to repaint our kitchen cabinets at the same time) is the Zinsser B-I-N Shellac Primer.
I highly recommend painting the pieces before assembling the furniture. We did not do this because we were so caught up in figuring out how to achieve the built-ins, and we noticed a significant ease for painting the shelves and door fronts (which weren’t attached) vs. the built-ins.
To prep everything and for extra measure, I started off by wiping all of the pieces and surfaces down with Klean-Strip Quart Easy Liquid Sander Deglosser. This gave us a clean and slightly rough surface to work with. Then we started rolling on the primer using foam rollers. We also had to use a small paint brush for edges, but the rollers are all you’ll need if you are painting unassembled. You’ll want to cover as much as possible with the foam rollers because they give a more even finish.
We let the primer dry and then painted trim paint (just regular cheap trim paint from Home Depot that was paint matched to our existing trim) over the primer with the foam rollers. Make sure you apply the paint in thin layers. You may need to do a few layers to get a complete cover. Because we were going from white to cream, we only needed to do one coat.
Afterwards we let the paint sit for a week before adding anything to the shelves. I would recommend at least letting it cure for 3 days.
I am so happy with how it turned out. AKA I sighed a big sigh of relief when I realized I successfully pulled off painting the bookcases and did not ruin our $1,000 built-ins.
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