Hi guys! Did you have a good weekend? I clearly took a long weekend by my lack of a post yesterday, but in my defense I was beat. We spent the weekend painting our hearts out in our bedroom (more on that tomorrow!). For now, I am so excited to share with you some tips on painting laminate furniture.
I was lucky enough to find this dresser in my own, well Sweet Clover’s own, back yard. Sometimes when we are open our landlord holds a yard sale. She put this triple French dresser out and not one person bought it, and I know why. It was, well, you know the type: yellowish, speckled, and boasting a very hard and plastic look laminate top. Those laminate tops like that frighten even some of the savviest DIYers I know!
Today I am sharing all the details of how I took this piece from then….
I have heard many times in conversations with other people in my business of furniture refinishing, “Oh I had to pass because it was laminate.” The truth is that laminate is just a thick shiny coating, just like a heavy coat of polyurethane on a solid wood piece of furniture, and can be painted, just like those wood pieces can be. Believe it or not, this dresser started out life with an ugly plastic looking speckled laminate top.
Wouldn’t it have been a shame to pass this piece up simply because of it’s hideous speckled laminate top? It had so much potential!
Here is a close up of the top so you can see its speckled glory….
I am not really sure why the speckled look was ever a thing back in the day, but thank goodness we have products and skills these days to cover it up. To prepare this dresser for painting the process was simple and similar to prepping any other piece.
First, of course, I put on a mask to prevent dust inhalation. Then using an orbital sander with 180 grit sandpaper, I sanded the entire laminate area so that it lost its shine. If I tried to sand the entire laminate off, I would be sanding all day, and I would uncover most likely composite wood underneath which is not as durable. To give you an idea of how much to I sanded the laminate, here is a look at it post sanding; it’s pretty similar to the above photo, just duller.
Once the laminate area was sanded, I continued with the rest of the dresser body. I removed all of the existing hardware and put it aside, and used the orbital sander to lightly sand the body. Because the drawer and legs had details that were inaccessible to the sander, I used a loose piece of sandpaper in the same grit and sanded those hard to reach areas by hand.
After the entire piece was sanded I used a damp rag to wipe away dust, allowed it to try, and was ready to prime. Because I prefer to keep things as clean as possible, I used a water based and low VOC primer. I applied one coat with a brush, and allowed it to dry. I then tested the laminate top by attempting to scratch the primer off, and found that it adhered beautifully. (I do this on all pieces where there is a possibility of paint or primer not sticking; I call it “the scratch test”.)
With the primer sticking perfectly, this piece was ready for paint! I created a custom mix with some General Finishes blues I had on hand and applied the first coat with a brush.
After one coat it was clear another was needed, so I continued with a second coat. Once the second coat was dry, I used my sandpaper to lightly distress the edges. This dresser had so many great details and curves that I wanted them to pop. Distressing the edges lightly allows for those features to really stand out.
To protect the finish I had worked so hard to achieve, and ensure durability, I applied a coat of satin finishing wax.
Finally, the crowning touch came in putting the hardware back in place. While the dresser’s paint was drying, I had sprayed the existing hardware with a gold spray paint to freshen it up. I knew it would shine against the darker blue.
As for the laminate top, underneath it’s new finish you would never know that hideous speckled laminate top is lurking.
This piece now has an entire new look and has been taken from 1970’s faux finish French to vintage hip.
PS- this dresser was painted with custom mix of Klein blue and Coastal blue from General Finishes.