Go Right Ahead and Paint That Laminate

April 27, 2010

We’ve owned this laminate and particle board media center for about fifteen years.  It was purchased in the leaner years from a discount furniture store.   Back in the 90s, we used it in our family room to store all of our media equipment, but then we eventually moved it to the kids’ play space.  For the longest time (like most moms) I was just grateful for the storage it brought me and I didn’t care what color it was.

Then all of a sudden I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I was staring at the faux maple laminate last week and I decided the day had come.  It was time to paint it!  It’s not that I don’t like blonde wood, I just don’t like faux blonde wood.  It’s the fakeness that bothers me.

So it was time to rid my world of the maple tone and give it a fresh coat of white paint.  This is a relatively sturdy piece, so rather than go out and buy a new system, or build one myself, I determined the best way to save it was to simply paint it.  The best part of all is, I changed the look of this piece in 48 hours!

Here’s the Before:

ent center before


Here’s the After:

painted laminate ent center

Here’s how I painted my laminate storage center.   

Make sure you invest in the right primer.  This is absolutely key.  You absolutely must prime your laminate surface with a primer designed to adhere to glossy surfaces.  No ordinary primer will do.  There are several options out there, my best piece of advice is to read the back of the can.  Zinsser happens to be my primer of choice.  I’ve worked with others and I’ve been disappointed, so I always return to this product.

zinsser primer

Oil based Zinsser grips like glue in my opinion, and without sanding.   You can use the water based version by Zinsser in the blue can, but you really need to sand your surface beforehand, and you also must wait for the water based version to fully cure, which is a recommended 7 days.  Zinsser’s oil based primer dries in two hours, so I was able to apply two coats of primer in one day.

Roll your primer on your piece of furniture, then follow up with a brush in all the crevices.  This primer dries really fast, but if you want a longer time to work with your primer and minimize brush strokes, use an additive called Penetrol that I’ve talked about here and here

roll then brush

Many people shy away from oil based products because they require paint thinner or mineral spirits to clean up.  However, if you use a cheap roller and cheap brush (my combo costs less than $2 dollars), you can toss them out when you’re done and not have to worry about cleaning your brush or roller with mineral spirits.  But it’s good to have some on hand anyway just to get any paint off your hands !

roller and brush


Sand your primed piece with medium grade sanding pad to remove any drips, buildup or brush marks.  Follow up with two coats of your paint color of choice.  Use a better quality brush to minimize your brush strokes.  You can go right over oil based primer with latex paint. 

doors before and after

painted laminate ent center


While I was at it, I even painted these inexpensive mini cabinets to hold the kids movies and other toys.  I primed them with the same Zinsser oil based product, then gave them two coats of the new wall color, which is some leftover BM ‘Camouflage’ mixed in with some of the spring green from these chairs

Yes, my kids watch movies on a VCR – they’re cheap !  $1 dollar each at the local Goodwill, can’t beat that !

laminate shelves before and after 

And for those of you who are wondering, yes the giant map is still there, just on the opposite wall ! 

I am loving our ‘new’ storage system !!

ent center from side


Here’s a glimpse of the wall from last year’s post about the map room:

Last year:

west wall 2



painted laminate ent center in room 

Various bins and baskets from Target, Michaels and Pottery Barn.  I made the pillow cover with some Annie Selke fabric. 

So if you’ve got a laminate piece hanging around your house that you want to freshen, go ahead and paint it!   Got laminate countertops ?  Check out this post on Our Suburban Cottage !  Want to use water based primer instead ?  Visit Lindsay and see how she transformed her laminate armoire.

I’m adding this to Kimba’s DIY Day over at A Soft Place to Land, hop on over and check out all the great DIY links ! 

Oh yes you can paint that laminate !   Yeehaw !



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