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How to paint laminate furniture

I found these shelves on Craigslist cheap! I’ve been looking for shelving for the nursery and buying new can get expensive. I was excited when I saw these because I could repaint them!  I asked the person who posted the ad what material they were and he said that they were wood. I was a bit skeptical. Sure enough when I saw them in person, I knew they weren’t real wood. Painting real wood is different than painting laminate, and I outlined how I did it below.

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Here’s what I used to paint laminate shelves:

  • 3M Very Fine Hand Sanding Pads (I got mine at home depot, but found similar ones on amazon)
  • Clark and Kensington Paint and Primer in one in white in a flat enamel finish
  • All purpose paint brushes
  • A mask (there was a lot of dust from sanding)

1. Take apart your furniture

You want to take everything apart to the best of your ability to make it easier to sand and paint.

2. Clean the furniture

My shelves were caked in dust from the previous owner’s home, I needed to get all the cobwebs off and extra residue before I started to sand.

3. Sand your furniture

It may sound funny to sand laminate, but it’s necessary to get out the built up dirt and scratches out. It also helps to get rid of any glossy finishes. Since the sanding pads I used were really fine, it helped me buff out some drink rings on some of the shelves too. Seems like the old owner didn’t believe in coasters. You want to use gentle sanding pads like I suggested, otherwise you will scratch up the surface.

4. Clean (again)

Now that you’ve sanded, you need to clean up all the dust from sanding. You wouldn’t want that getting mixed in the paint. It also helped me see if I should buff anymore trouble spots.

5. Paint, paint, and more paint

I needed 3 coats of paint on these shelves. I think part of the issue was the shelves were originally SO DARK so it took a lot to cover. Between the two stacks of shelves I went through a whole quart of paint.

Here is one of the finished shelves in the nursery! I think I’ll use the other one for my guest room. I’ll post pictures of that on my instagram when it is decorated for the guest room! 

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