CRAFT: Painting IKEA (or other laminate) Furniture

Posted by The Crafty Bat on

Pink and Black IKEA Dresser with Bats

Seeing as "Crafty" is in the name of this shop, of course I'll be posting some craft blogs!

I'll start with the one I'm most proud of - painting this laminate furniture.

(Note: This is not a sponsored post, nor are the links included affiliate links - just links to the products I used!)

This past summer I picked up some IKEA furniture with the intention of painting it. I had originally intended to only be painting the pink, but none of the furniture I wanted was available in black - the dresser was white, the bookcases were birch, and the nightstands were grey - so this ended up being a huge project.

I read a LOT of tutorials beforehand, and so many of them either had conflicting advice or could not agree on which paints to use. After consulting a friend whose partner worked at Sherwin-Williams, I finally had some solid advice, and I was even able to skip a step, as they advised me that I didn't need a topcoat over the recommended paint.

Here's how I did it. Sorry for the lack of pictures - my intentions to document my progress went awry, it seems! I'll be painting a pair of chest of drawers at some point, and I will update this post with more pictures when I do that.

-Sandpaper. Fine-grit is fine (I used 220 grit) - you aren't fully sanding the stuff, just adding a bit of tooth for the primer.

-Primer. I used Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 primer, water-based.

-Paint. I used Sherwin-Williams Emerald Satin paint, water-based, in Tricorn Black and Lotus Flower.

---NOTE: Make absolutely certain that both your paint and primer are the same base, whether that's oil-based or water-based. Otherwise you'll end up with tacky/sticky paint, and that's awful!---

-Paint Rollers. I used these tiny ones, and the coverage was amazing!

-Face Mask. You don't want to inhale all the dust from the sanding!

-Tack Cloth, Paper Towels, Rags, or Lint Rollers. I used damp cloths to wipe down the dust post-sanding, and then went over the surface with a lint roller to pick up the stuff I missed.

-Drop Cloth. So you don't get paint everywhere (which I still did).

This is easiest done if the furniture is not yet assembled. However, if you are painting a piece that is already assembled, pick up some paint brushes to fill in the gaps that the rollers can't reach!

Take the sandpaper and lightly sand every surface that's being painted. I simply sanded lightly in a circular motion like I was wiping down a table. It won't feel like you're really doing anything but, next thing you know, you'll be covered in dust!

Wipe down everything with damp cloths or use tack cloth to get all that dust off. You don't want that getting into your primer and causing problems. Go over with a lint roller if you don't have tack cloth - you'll be amazed at the stuff you might have missed!

Apply two light coats of primer, cleaning up any drips with a damp cloth as you go along. I did not do this at first, and I ended up having to scrape and sand off a few big primer drips, which was a pain. The primer is going to look like crap - it won't look perfect by any means, and that's fine! As long as it's smooth, you're good! And definitely make sure you have good ventilation for this step because the primer fumes are pretty intense. As I was painting in my garage, I opened the garage door for this step.

Sexy, sexy primer.

Follow the directions for how long to let the primer sit before painting. I ended up getting busy with other stuff, so all of my pieces ended up sitting for about 3 months before I painted them. But, normally, it's somewhere between 2 and 24 hours for the full cure time.

It's painting time! Apply a thin coat of paint, cleaning up drips as you go, and follow the instructions for drying time between coats. FOLLOW THIS RELIGIOUSLY. It will seriously make all the difference in the world. I did 3 thin coats of paint, because two wasn't quite enough for me. I let each coat dry for 3 hours, and then I let everything cure for 72 hours before I turned the pieces over to paint the other sides. This was not a quick project because of the cure time, but it was worth it!

Pink Paint
I used the product boxes on top of storage containers
so that I had a raised surface to work on.

If you're using a paint like the Sherwin-Williams Emerald, it's a self-leveling paint. Meaning that, so long as you do thin coats, the streaks in the paint will smooth out during the curing period.

If you're doing two colours, like I did, use a good painters tape along the edges to keep the paint from bleeding. I recommend going over the tape with a credit card or something similar to make sure the tape doesn't have any tiny gaps for the paint to creep into.

After letting the second side cure for 72 hours, I was done! I (mostly) carefully assembled the pieces (I've got a few scratches I need to touch up; oops), and we were able to use them right away. Some paints have a longer cure time - up to 30 days or more in some cases - so be mindful of that when looking for a paint to use, especially if you're painting bookshelves. Having books get stuck to still-curing paint is heart-breaking!

I couldn't find bat knobs I liked, so I madd a modified version of my bat designs and placed them behind the knobs. (These decals are available for purchase here!)

Cute, simple, and I don't get my skirts caught
on any sharp corners!

While this ended up being a pretty big project, the results were so worth it! I didn't anticipate how something as simple as painting my furniture would have such a profound impact on lifting my spirits, but the joy of seeing it every day has been such a bright spot in an otherwise dark year.

Happy Crafting!
-The Crafty Bat

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