The Best & Trusted Way for Painting Laminate Furniture

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We often paint old wooden furniture, but what about painting laminate furniture? Have you ever thought about painting brand-new furniture? The next question may be can you paint laminate furniture? Specifically, Pottery Barn furniture? I’m talking about squeaky clean, right-out-of-the-box furniture. Since it is new it will most likely be made of laminate or MDF and have a slick surface. Well, good news – you CAN! Today I’m sharing a makeover of a brand spanking new Pottery Barn Bookcase. The prep for Pottery Barn furniture will be the same for any piece of new, shiny, slick surfaces including laminate furniture or MDF.

Painting laminate furniture is easier than you may think. If you wonder how to paint laminate furniture, or even can you paint laminate? The answer is yes! See how to paint over laminate in a way to make your painted finish last. This brand new Pottery Barn Bookcase is given a painted furniture makeover.

Disclosure: This painting laminate furniture post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Click here for my full disclosure policy

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Simple Supply List for Painting Laminate Furniture

What You Will Need 



Original Pottery Barn Bookcase

This Pottery Barn Bookcase is brand spanking new. My customer had her husband assemble it straight from the box before bringing it to me for just a little more. If you love this bookcase in its original simplicity you can find it here: Cameron Bookcase  Since my customer found the bookcase to be too boring, yet her husband likes the simplicity they have met in the middle with a compromise and are having the outside of the bookcase painted while leaving the inside alone. Besides, the inside will be full of books and things so we may as well make the outside pretty leaving the inside in its original off-white.

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First, my customer fell in love with a painting technique that she saw on a previous piece of furniture that I painted and asked for the same technique. You can find that inspiration piece here: Painted Layers on a Tall Lingerie Chest. She is also expecting a new baby and sent me a few photos of other items that will be in the room with this Pottery Barn Bookcase. This is the dresser that will be in the room: 

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This is the light fixture: 

pewter light fixture

Using these as inspiration we are using these colors on the bookcase from Dixie Belle Paint.

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If you are new to furniture painting and want to learn how to update old furniture with paint you can always start at the beginning with How to Paint Furniture – a Beginners Guide.

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Prepping Laminate, MDF, and any Smooth Surface for Paint

Since this Pottery Barn bookcase is brand new and squeaky clean you don’t have to go overboard with prep work. But I would make sure to give it a light sanding with a sanding block to scuff the laminate surface. If you are unsure of how to paint laminate furniture keep in mind that the prep for these new surfaces will be the same whether laminate, MDF, or another slick surface. 

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Then, rinse and wipe clean to remove the sanding dust. I think the only thing better than painting new furniture is painting raw wood. The prep is minimal for these. Woohoo!

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Before You Can Start Painting Laminate Furniture

But, there’s always a ‘but’ right? Like I said this is brand new and from Pottery Barn making it most likely not solid wood. As a matter of fact, the bookcase is built from solid wood and MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). What does that even mean? Though we don’t have to go crazy cleaning this furniture we do still need to prep it. A good bonding primer is necessary. For best results, I am using Slick Stick from Dixie Belle Paint. This is basically a laminate primer. You can find Slick Stick HERE

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Slick Stick acts as a primer for laminate furniture and is made to stick to shiny surfaces like this new Pottery Barn Bookcase.  It is also the best primer for IKEA laminate furniture as well. If you want to know how to paint laminate furniture without sanding, this is the best way to do it. But, as you know I always recommend some sanding, or light scuffing simply because I feel like you will never regret a good prep. I suppose you can keep your sanding to a bare minimum when using Slick Stick.  That’s as close to no sanding as I will ever suggest when it comes to prepping furniture pieces for paint. 

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Using my Zibra paint brush I apply Slick Stick to the surface. You can use any quality brush to do this. Apply two coats of slick stick white primer making sure to allow each coat of primer to dry thoroughly. As you can see, Slick Stick goes on white which makes it a great base when painting laminate furniture in light colors or white. 

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Painting a Base Coat

Now that the bookcase is cleaned and prepped we can start adding the pretty part. Since I am only painting the outside I make sure to tape off the border of the bookcase with painter’s tape to prevent paint from going where it shouldn’t. And on the slight chance that it does, just make sure to wipe it away with a damp cloth or paper towel right away. I start with a first base coat of Driftwood over the entire piece (excluding the inside).  Driftwood is a very light gray.

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Only one full coat of Driftwood is applied on the bookcase. You don’t need multiple coats of paint because the Slick-Stick dries white, acting as a primer and base coat. With a great base of Slick Stick the Driftwood gray appears darker than it is. 

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Painting Layers

Next, using plastic spoons scoop a bit of each color onto a paper plate or paint tray. There is no right way or wrong way to do this. 

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Make sure to use a clean spoon for each paint color to avoid accidentally mixing colors in the containers. 

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Now grab a paintbrush, preferably an older one that may be a little beat up. I try to find the brush in the worst condition where the bristles are spreading out. 

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Dab your brush randomly into all of the colors on your plate. Don’t drench the brush but make sure to get paint on the tips.

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Then paint your bookcase making sure the brush strokes are in the same direction, creating soft layers.

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When you finish painting your Pottery Barn furniture your paint plate should look something like this. 

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Applying the Second Coat of Painted Layers

I do find the first coat to have a bit more purple to it than I would like due to the Maison Dixon gray. So I am going back with a second coat of layers and eliminating that color. The second round of layers will only have these. (all of the first colors minus the Maison Dixon gray) The best part of this technique is that if you don’t love the first layer you can go back and make slight changes to your color choices until you do love it. 

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Leaving the plate to look like this once finished. 

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Your layers will be soft and blend into one another. 

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Our colors seem to work great with the sample of the wall color and hardware that my customer also provided. 

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Adding Sealer & Finishing Touches

The entire bookcase is distressed along the edges and sealed. I am adding a bit of whitewash to soften the layers even more. I added the whitewash right in with the clear sealer. You always need to add a protective top coat to your painted furniture. This applies whether you are painting real wood furniture, wood veneer, or a piece of laminate furniture. There is a full tutorial with a video on the easiest way to sealing painted furniture here if you’d like to check it out: sealing painted furniture. 

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Adding Subtle Black Glaze

Lastly, we will add a bit of black glaze to the creases of the bookcase. Since the light fixture in the room will be pewter I want to add a bit of that grunge without going overboard. Grab a small artist’s brush for this part. 

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Apply a small amount of black glaze along the creases of the bookcase. 

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Wipe away excess with your finger or cloth. 

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The glaze will be very subtle in all of the creases. 

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Painted Pottery Barn Bookcase Makeover

Now go ahead and paint your old furniture, paint your new furniture, paint your laminate furniture, paint your MDF furniture. You can even paint particle board if you feel it to be worth it. 

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A little paint can transform a piece of furniture and take something from boring and dated to a new perfect piece that you love all over again.

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With the proper prep, the right kind of paint, and a quality top coat, you can transform laminate cabinets, an old laminate dresser, a Pottery Barn Bookcase, laminate IKEA furniture, and more. 

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Check out all of my furniture projects with over 90 painted furniture makeovers: Stunning painted furniture ideas.

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If you love these paint colors you can get them here along with other amazing products and the best paints:  Dixie Belle Paint

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If you like this project then make sure to check out the inspiration piece too: Painted Layers on a Lingerie Chest 

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Wait! Don’t Go!  It’s that time of the month again for:

The Furniture Flippers

If you have been with me for a while then you know that I participate in a monthly Furniture Fixer Uppers share. That is where a few of my creative and talented blogger friends and I have joined together to share what we are working on. This is a new group of Furniture Flippers and we will be sharing on the 1st Thursday of each month to bring you even more great furniture makeovers. DIY projects and furniture makeovers are more fun with friends anyway, so the more the merrier, right? Let’s see what my friends are up to! With the end of school and the start of summer craziness, my friend Jenny is the only other flipper participating this month. So make sure to click the link above the image to see her cane chair project. You can also check out all of the monthly DIY blog hops and groups that I participate in along with who the other great bloggers are here: Best DIY Blogs 

How to Refinish a Piece of Furniture with Broken Caning by Refresh Living

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If you like this post make sure to check out all of the tips & secrets that I wish someone told me when I started painting furniture here: Painting Furniture Secrets  

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I’d love for you to join me for more painted furniture makeovers, and DIY projects! and Share this post to Inspire others:


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Painting laminate furniture is easier than you may think. If you wonder how to paint laminate furniture, or even can you paint laminate? The answer is yes! See how to paint over laminate in a way to make your painted finish last. This brand new Pottery Barn Bookcase is given a painted furniture makeover.
Painting laminate furniture is easier than you may think. If you wonder how to paint laminate furniture, or even can you paint laminate? The answer is yes! See how to paint over laminate in a way to make your painted finish last. This brand new Pottery Barn Bookcase is given a painted furniture makeover.

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