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Slowly but surely all the hand me downs and thrift store furniture in our home is getting an update. Most recently was the laminate bookshelf that sits in our living room. Most of the furniture in our house is solid wood but this piece is all laminate so I thought I would walk you all through how to paint laminate. This also coincided well with this month’s At Home DIY challenge to use paint to update something or someplace in our homes.

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Supplies Needed to Paint a Laminate Bookshelf

Painting on laminate is a little more challenging than painting wood. Laminate is a wood print that is overlayed on top of particle board or MDF so the surface is slick and paint doesn’t want to adhere as well as it does to wood.

An empty dark wood bookcase sitting in the corner of a living room

The advantage of using the Rescue, Restore paint is that no sanding is needed before painting the piece of furniture. This is a chalk-based paint that does not require sanding or primer before using. However, it is important to clean the piece thoroughly before starting painting. I used a furniture cleaner from A Maker’s Studio. It is designed to “wash away dirt, wax, oil and other grime from furniture and other finished surfaces with ease .” Once I had all the books and decor removed from the bookshelf I used the furniture cleaner and a rag to wipe down the piece.

Because the weather outside was below freezing I didn’t want to paint this in the garage since I knew for one that the paint would take longer to dry and two I don’t like being cold! Another reason I love the Rescue, Restore paint is that they have used essential oils in them so that there is no harsh chemical smell. I have done so many pieces of furniture painting in the house for this reason. Justin helped me maneuver some plastic sheeting under the bookshelf to protect the floor.

And then it’s time to start painting! As you can see from this picture the paint went on very streaked for the first coat. This will happen with any type of laminate furniture as the paint is being applied to a non-porous surface.

A streaky painted side of a bookcase with white paint

It took the first coat a couple of hours to completely dry.

A partially painted bookshelf up close with streaks of dark wood showing through

Then came the second coat. And a third in this case because I was using a lighter paint on dark wood.

A close up of an empty bookshelf completely white

Once the entire piece was painted I used a matte sealer all over the entire piece. Since books will be slid back and forth over the shelves I wanted to make sure it didn’t scuff off the paint. If this piece had been real wood I probably would have left it and maybe applied wax and have it wear over time.

A chalk painted bookcase filled with books with green plants around it
A close up picture of the side of a bookcase that has been painted with white chalk paint
A close up of the the top of a bookcase with a candle, crock filled with rolling pins and faux green flower

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1 Comment on How to Paint a Laminate Bookshelf

  1. Thank you for the tutorial. I am currently in the process and was freaking out a little on how streaked it was with the first coat. You have reassured me! I am doing a little lighter than yours with gray shelves and then a matching dresser. The drawer fronts will be gray to pull it all together.

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