How to Paint IKEA Furniture, Dressers, Shelves and Laminate Surfaces

If you’ve been around here a while you know I love to paint ANY and ALL surfaces. If they say you can’t paint them, trust me I’ll find a way. With that being said, can you paint IKEA furniture? Of course you can! You just need to know how to paint IKEA furniture the right way. 


Let me preface this post by saying not ALL IKEA furniture can be painted the same way, but probably 95% of it. I’m talking about their lovely material of choice for most of their products; heavy particle board that is covered in laminate.

Painting IKEA furniture

I’m no stranger to painting laminate. As a matter of fact, I’ve tried two different ways to paint laminate and I’ve decided that one method is the right way to paint laminate and the other is the wrong way to paint laminate. I shared all my thoughts with a comprehensive review a year after I painted our kitchen laminate cabinets.

Today I will be sharing a very similar method that I used when I painted my old laminate cabinets. Don’t worry, I’ll be using the right way!

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Supplies for painting IKEA furniture.

  • Primer-- this is key. Let me say that again. PRIMER IS KEY. Nothing will adhere to your IKEA furniture without it.
  • Paint of your choice. As long as you prime well, any paint should work (within reason).
  • Paint brushes and fine finish paint rollers
  • You can also use a paint sprayer. This would probably be the best option but I will be using a paint brush and paint rollers to get a smooth finish.
  • Optional- fine grit sanding block or sand paper. This isn’t required, but a little extra “bite” to your laminate surface could help. That being said, there is a fine line to sanding laminate too much. You still want the surface to be smooth once it’s painted. I will probably NOT be sanding my project.
  • Sealer-- I love this Polycrylic water based sealer in satin. It works wonders.

It’s best to paint your IKEA furniture before it’s been assembled.

Painting IKEA furniture

I’m currently working on painting an IKEA homework desk for my kiddos and I found the best desk at IKEA. 

Here it is in it’s unfinished glory. My plan is the paint the sides and bottom of the desk and shelf white.  I’m going to leave the tops in their original finish. Also I will leave the bars that hold the desk unfinished too. I’ve already spray painted the white brackets gold to match the rest of the room.  I can’t wait to show you.

It’s always best to start painting a piece of furniture before you assemble it.

Method to painting IKEA furniture:

  1. Clean the IKEA furniture piece and make sure the surface is lint free.
  2. Paint at least two coats of Primer. My rule of thumb is to paint enough coats to where you can’t see the original finish.
  3. Once the primer is dry start painting!
  4. I would suggest two coats of paint
  5. Apply the sealer. Depending on how much traffic your piece of furniture will get will determine how many coats of sealer you need. Two coats for a high traffic area and one coat for a low traffic piece.

I’ll share a few progress photos:

Painting IKEA furniture

This was after the first coat of Primer. I definitely needed another coat to hide the original IKEA surface.

After the second coat of primer was done it was time to paint!

I chose a very generic white paint. Like I said before, if you use a good primer, I don’t think the paint needs to be anything special.

Painting IKEA furniture

Now time for the sealer. This is as important as the primer in my opinion. I swear by a polycrylic top coat in satin. 

I’ll share a YouTube video below of the entire process for those of you who are more visual.

PAINTING IKEA FURNITURE the right way the first time with this easy trick

I hope you’ve found this painting IKEA furniture tutorial super useful and very straight forward. Like I always say, “If I can do it, you can too.”

Painting IKEA furniture

If you enjoyed this post you will probably enjoy these posts below!

Painting laminate cabinets with NO prep work
How I painted my cheap laminate cabinets with NO prep work!


10 thoughts on “How to Paint IKEA Furniture, Dressers, Shelves and Laminate Surfaces

  1. I should’ve thought to look this up FIRST. I painted a wardrobe/cabinet with melamine furniture paint – sure it didn’t cover it well the first time but I figured I could just do another coat.I added the second coat today and it has covered it okay but I now see how easily it peels off. Like, if I look at it too intensely it peels.
    What can I do at this point? Will adding the sealer do the trick or is it doomed because I didn’t prime it? How can I save this project?

    1. Hi Nadrina. I’ve never heard of melamine paint, but surely if it is formulated for melamine then maybe it has a primer built in? Since you have already painted two coats, go ahead and continue on and cover it with a good top coat. After the top coat dries, you will know how it will hold up. If it doesn’t hold up, maybe it will peel off easily for you. Wishing you the best!

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