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Painting laminate furniture is a lot like painting other furniture pieces. I’ve picked up (or dragged from the garbage in some cases) some great pieces of laminate furniture and have been able to turn them back into great pieces for my home. Since I’ve done the How to Paint Furniture Beginner’s Guide, I thought I’d go ahead and whip up a quick tutorial on painting laminate furniture as well.
We’ve all had our hands on one of these french provincial dressers at one point, haven’t we? This dresser was actually quite abused and beaten up. However, it was in perfect condition at one point during my ownership. I bought this dresser about 15 years at a yardsale for $10 and used it in my own bedroom for years, before I could afford to buy a “real” bedroom set.
Earlier this year however, my monster baby was diagnosed with lead poisoning. We had our home tested and all tests came back negative. We were stumped. And then it struck me…the dresser! I had it tested and sure enough, all that gold paint you see on the dresser, completely lead based. I had been using this to store my daughter’s toys in and she was rubbing her little fingers on it every day. Be very careful if you own one of these and have small children.
I was mad as heck at my little french dresser and I’m not even kidding when I say, I had my husband chuck Ms. Frenchy out the backdoor. There it sat up against my house in the rain on many occasions and was even part of our latest ice freeze we had down here in Georgia a couple of weeks ago. Last weekend however, I decided it was time to save her.
I surveyed the damage and the main frame of the dresser was amazingly still in great condition. However, the front of the drawers had all bubbled, warped from the edges and looked pretty terrible. Still, I had a choice. I could throw her away or give her new life. I chose life.
The first thing I did was clean it up. I’m not a brand nut so any good cleaner will work. For this project, I had on hand some Motsenbocker’s Lift Off. It’s great at getting dirt off and also removes any sticky residues, tape or anything else you could possibly throw at it. Since you don’t do a lot of sanding with laminate, making sure it’s clean is the best thing you can do to prep it for it’s paint.
Next I removed all the hardware from the dresser and placed it in my spray box. What’s a spray box? It’s simply a deep cardboard box that I use to spray small objects, such as hardware. It has deep sides, so I can spray all around without getting paint all over the place. It’s simple and cuts back on the cleanup…and who doesn’t have an empty box laying around?
For this project, I am going to use a primer, a spray paint for color and then I decided I would do a black glaze on top of it to give it a little age. I’m checking out the Walmart brand spray paint in this project. This goes against anything I ever do. I typically stick with Painter’s Touch for my spray paint, but I’m trying to expand my tools and review products for you guys so I decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a paint color name, it simply says “cap indicates color” which is sort of dark red (Review coming soon). The glaze was just a clear tintable glaze from Valspar that I had the guys from Lowe’s tint black and my primer was Rust-Oleum Gray Primer (American Accents, not Painter’s Touch this time around). Since I’m painting it a dark red, gray is the better choice than white.
I started off by doing two thin coats of the primer onto the dresser. I could have done one thick coat but I’m a nut about paint drips so to keep that at a minimum I like to do really thin coats of the spray primer by just evenly and quickly swiping it across the surface.
While the primer was drying, I went ahead and sprayed by hardware down with Rust-Oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray. This is my absolute favorite metal type paint and because I had 4 missing knobs in this dresser and had to buy new, I had to paint them all the same color so they would match. I think they turned out great!
Now comes the fun part…paint! This is how the dresser looked after the first coat of paint. As you can see it still had some primer showing through. Just like my application with the primer, I prefer a lighter and thinner application. It does require more coats, but I’m usually happier with the results. Don’t rush it!
After the second coat, you can see the color really comes together and looks beautiful and vibrant. You can also really see the bubbling effect that’s happening on the front of the drawers if you look closely. Frenchy really has a bubbling personality.
Once the red paint was dry, I decided to add one additional bit of color to it. I took the black glaze I had mixed up at Lowe’s and with a foam brush, brushed it all over the entire dresser. The brush allowed me to get into all the grooves of the dresser including the cool shaped feet, which I love about these dressers. After the glaze set for a minute or two, I got a wet rag and wiped it all back off. It left this aged antique look to the dresser with a subtle hint of black in all of the grooves plus a nice random stain across the dresser top and face of the drawers. This step is totally optional when painting laminate furniture, but I love that I can do almost any painting effect with this type of furniture.
To finish off this little beauty I used the Minwax Lacquer Spray, two coats to give it a good layer of protection. Applied the same with all the other finishes, just thin coats in a nice even sweeping motion. Super simple and done.
After leaving out to dry, we moved it inside and I have to say I love the way it looks in my dining room. I am going to be using this as a buffet table to store all of my linens in and I can’t wait to try it out!
What about those damaged drawers? If you look at the pictures it’s pretty obvious what I’m talking about. The bubbling, the warped edges on the bottom the drawers, especially the two top drawers, etc. I could probably leave them alone and just call it “aged” but I had another idea to try out with this piece to hide that.
I decided I would take a stab at decoupaging the dresser drawer fronts to cover up that damage and I couldn’t be happier with the results. You can check out my final finished buffet/dresser below and if you want to see how the decoupaging was done, take a look at the tutorial HERE.
That’s it for now, I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to paint laminate furniture!