I have been refinishing furniture for a few years now and it seems I have gotten a bit over-confident about it. A friend recently asked me if I could paint her Ikea Kallax shelving to match her little boy's bedroom. Without a moment's hesitation, I said that I could, after all, I have painted more furniture than I can count, and several pieces have been laminate.
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Now if you have been visiting The Refurbished Home for long at all, you already know about my mild obsession with spray paint. So I set to work in exactly the same way as usual. I dusted off the shelving, wiped away any visible dirty spots, and coated everything with a nice layer of primer. Everything was going perfectly.
Then a few days later I came back to finish the paint, and that is went it all went horribly wrong! I have had pieces that bubbled slightly in the past. It isn't uncommon to discover too late that there was a bit of grease or something that causes the paint to not adhere well. I have always been able to fix the problem with a bit of sanding and cleaning then simple re-painting. This time however, it wasn't a small spot, it was nearly the entire piece! There were bubbles EVERYWHERE!
and in the few places that didn't bubble, the paint simply peeled right off. Huge sheets of paint! I had never seen anything like it.
So I tried what I have always done in the past, I sanded the whole thing a bit, paying special attention to the bad spots. Then I washed the whole thing with soapy water, rinsed it a bit, let it dry and started painting again. It DID NOT get any better!
I knew what I had to do, but I was NOT happy about it. I got out the sander and the 60 grit sandpaper and got to work.
(Ignore the pink paint on my hands, I have a bad habit of multi-tasking)
I removed nearly all of the paint. It was not pretty! Forget the before/after of the shelving, you need to see the before/after of me!
Once it was down as close as I could get to the original shelving, I proceeded the way I should have all along. Please don't make the same mistake I did. I assure you it is worth the effort to do it right the first time!!
How to PROPERLY Paint Ikea Laminate
As I said, I have painted laminate before, so why did I have so much trouble this time? It all comes down to the type of laminate. This style of laminate (not just from Ikea) has what basically amounts to a wax coating. Is it plastic, coated with wax. Really, is there any surprise that it didn't want to hold the paint? The funny thing is that the answer is really quite simple.
This is Krud Kutter, and it is an excellent product to prepare a surface for paint. Follow the instructions on the bottle, and it will clean away the waxy coating. Once you are done cleaning and the furniture has dried thoroughly, sand the entire piece. You don't need to put a lot of muscle into it, you are just trying to scuff up the finish so that the paint has something to hold on to.
The next step is to use a really great primer. Oil based is definitely the way to go, regardless of the type of paint you intend to use for the actual painting. Whatever oil primer you choose be sure to read the instructions and allow the full amount of curing time before painting.
**You may have been told that you cannot mix oil based and latex paint, which is somewhat true, but not entirely. You can NOT use an oil paint over a latex primer, but you CAN use a latex paint over an oil primer.
When you have allowed for full curing, you can begin painting. If you use spray paint, it is very important to embrace the "less is more" mentality! Apply thin coats of paint, by using short sweeping bursts of paint. Resist the temptation to apply a lot of paint at once, or you will end up with runs and drips in your finish.
I have not finished painting yet, but I can already tell you that the bubbling/peeling problem is completely gone. I know this isn't a great picture ( I had terrible lighting) but the finish is perfectly smooth!
I have done 2 coats so far, and I could not be more pleased with the results, I will never again try to take a shortcut when painting laminate!
For more fun furniture ideas: