How to paint IKEA furniture

For those who love a little DIY project, it doesn't get simpler than painting furniture. Cookie cutter IKEA items are begging you to upgrade them with personal touches, but sometimes people struggle with the different textures and materials IKEA uses for their furniture.

There are three basic types of Ikea furniture: Laminate (particle board), Unfinished wood (usually pine), and Metal (usually painted). The most common is laminate, and its non-adhesive nature to most paints sometimes scares people off before their project even gets started. Painting laminate furniture can be done, but it requires some preparation and specific types of paint. We'll tell you everything you need to know about painting IKEA furniture.



Clean the surface of the furniture thoroughly to remove any dust or grease. For uncoated wood pieces, sand lightly to create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to. For pieces with a laminate surface, you'll need very light scuffing on the entire piece to roughen up the surface, and then use a primer specifically designed for laminate surfaces. This can be done with sandpaper, and lightly sanding is essential for long-term durability. 

Sanding IKEA furniture
(Photo source: 


Primer is super important when working with nonporous surfaces. Make sure to get a good quality interior/exterior bonding primer whose primary purpose is for “hard to coat” surfaces. A shellac-based primer is great for laminate surfaces. Use the shellac-based primer for the first coat of primer, then use a water-based primer for the second coat so you can use a paint sprayer if you want to. 

Priming IKEA furniture for painting(Photo source: 


Use a paintbrush and roller to apply the paint in thin, even layers. Use cabinet-based paint for your main color, and we've found that urethane acrylic satin finishes usually work best. Allow the paint to dry completely before applying a second coat. When the final coat is dry, you can lightly sand it with a high grit paper (320-400) to get rid of any brush/roller marks. Finish with a water-based poly sealer to get that dry and hard surface texture, avoid tacky coating, and protect the paint to make it more durable. It's best to use multiple light coats of paint rather than one heavy coat to prevent drips and bubbles from forming.

Painting IKEA furniture
(Photo source: 


Remarkable results 

Let the furniture dry overnight before using it. Be aware that paint may not stick well on some types of laminates, so be prepared to experiment before committing to a final product. Make sure you're using paint suitable for the intended usage of the furniture.

Here are two amazing examples from our customers of how great a painted IKEA piece can look. The first piece uses our cane fronts in both medium and small in our earthy sand finish, then the bare Besta frames were stacked and painted with Benjamin Moore's Arizona Tan (the closest match to our house-mixed paint color). The second piece uses our Eva doors in a DIY finish, as well as top and side panels in the DIY finish, and then was painted Benjamin Moore's Florida Keys blue. Our DIY pieces come prepped and primed, ready for you to paint upon arrival, saving you some time in your project. 

Painted IKEA furniture
(Photo source: Sowmya 

Painted IKEA furniture
(Photo source: Charles Bilash)

With proper preparation, painting IKEA pieces is extremely doable and long-lasting. Protecting yourself with proper clothing, mask, and ventilation while doing more elaborate projects is important. The main part of doing a DIY project like this is to have fun and be creative! If you have questions along the way, we're happy to help. We hope you're ready to tackle your first painting project, and don't forget to send us photo updates if you followed our steps! 



You might also like How to customize IKEA with Norse Interiors.

For more inspiration, follow @norseinteriors



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