From identifying the best paint to easy DIY tips -- I'm showing you how to paint IKEA furniture so that it looks more custom (and lasts for years)!
I love a good IKEA hack, and my favourite way to make inexpensive IKEA pieces look more high-end is to give them a coat of paint. I've painted many pieces of furniture over the years, so today I'm sharing all of my tips and tricks with the hope that it helps and inspires you to grab a paintbrush and get started!
CAN IKEA furniture be painted?
You might be wondering if IKEA furniture can even be painted at all. The answer is YES! Whether it's solid wood or made of particle board, IKEA pieces can definitely be painted... with the right prep and materials. I've painted wooden pieces and laminate / particle board / MDF pieces that look great and have lasted for many years with no chipping, peeling or flaking. You might be surprised at the durability of a painted IKEA piece if you take the time to do it the right way!
IKEA Hack Ideas
The DIY possibilities are endless when it comes to creating a custom-look piece of furniture from an IKEA find. Some ideas:
- make a built-in look entry console from Stall shoe cabinets
- create a dining bench from IKEA kitchen cabinets
- do a mid-century modern Besta hack
- create a campaign style dresser from a MALM dresser
- make a group of BILLY bookcases look like built-ins
- hack some IKEA PAX units into a stunning walk-in closet
How do you prep the furniture for paint?
The right prep work can make or break your painted piece. To begin, remove any drawers from your assembled piece so that you can paint the drawers and frame separately. You can even paint an IKEA piece before it's assembled to get the ultimate coverage!
No matter the material it's made of, I find that all IKEA furniture will need a light sanding and cleaning before it's painted. I recommend a good "scuff sand" - that is, a sanding that will roughen up the surface a little so that paints sticks better.
Use a 100 grit sandpaper (or a medium-grit sandpaper), and sand by hand or use a power sander. After sanding, use a tack cloth to remove any dust, dirt, and loose debris from the furniture. Finally, wipe the piece clean with a de-greasing cleaner to remove any oil or grime and you're ready for the next step.
What primer do you use?
First, you need to determine if you even need to use a primer on your IKEA furniture. In my experience, a solid wood piece with a rougher texture doesn't usually require a primer before the top coat of paint. You may also be able to skip the primer if you're using a chalk style paint like this one (but do a test swatch first)!
If the furniture is a satin, semi-gloss or glossy finish laminate, a good coat of primer is definitely required after the scuff sand step. I like to use a bonding primer like this one. It's nice and sticky so that it will adhere well to a piece that has a bit of gloss. Priming your piece properly will ensure that the paint top coat won't peel or chip.
Many fellow DIYers have reported that Zinsser primer works like a charm, but I've yet to try it! Some people have even used a second coat of primer on their pieces, but I've found that one coat of quality primer is enough.
It's also important to let your primer cure properly before going on to the next step. Read the primer's label to determine exactly how long you should wait before painting a top coat on your furniture.
What paint do you use?
I've used a variety of paints on my IKEA furniture DIYs. You can use a chalk style paint and distress it for a country or Farmhouse look. My favourite paint to use is plain old interior latex paint! I've used it to paint an IKEA TV stand when I created an entry bench in our Little Lake House. I've also used it when painting an old sideboard, when painting a Hemnes bathroom vanity, and when painting two Stall shoe cabinets in our entry. I find it doesn't require a top coat, and when combined with a good primer it lasts and lasts!
My favourite latex paint to use on IKEA furniture (solid wood or laminate) is Behr Scuff Defense or Behr Dynasty (even better). Both products have lasted on my pieces for a long time, and Dynasty has absolutely amazing coverage!
Chalk paint is also an option, but it's harder to get a smooth finish with this type of paint. For a more vintage, distressed look it would be perfect.
Should I use paint rollers, paint brushes, or a paint sprayer?
Tool wise, my preference for painting furniture is to use a paint sprayer for the most even finish. My favourite paint sprayer is the Wagner Flexio 5000. A sprayer isn't always affordable or easy to prep, though, so my second favourite tool for painting is a foam roller. Foam rollers produce a decent finish, and then you can do any detail work with a paint brush.
How do you paint IKEA laminate furniture? Wood furniture?
I find it's absolutely essential to do the scuff sanding and priming steps when painting laminate furniture. If you skip these steps, you'll probably find your paint peeling over time. For solid wood furniture with a matte finish, I've found I can skip the priming step and go right to the paint top coat! I did this on the green sideboard because it was made of solid pine that had a slight texture to it.
Do you need to seal you piece?
I haven't found sealing necessary when using a primer and latex paint for my IKEA furniture. However, you may want to use it when using chalk paint so that it's easier to clean. For chalk style paint, you can use something like this as a sealant.
Watch my video on how I painted my old IKEA sideboard:
With this piece, I didn't need to use a primer before the latex paint top coat. The reason? This sideboard was made of solid pine and didn't have any sort of gloss to its finish. It's holding up perfectly so far!
More IKEA hacks & decor ideas:
- 10 Best IKEA Organization Products under $20
- Hanging Art Rail System Hack: The Look for Less!
- Closet Design Ideas: Functional & Affordable!
- How To Build A Bench Seat From IKEA Cabinets
- Create an Easy DIY Advent Calendar - with crystals inside!
- Modern Coastal Living Room Makeover with DIY Shiplap Fireplace & Office Nook | Our Little Lake House
- Modern Coastal Bathroom Renovation on a Budget | Our Little Lake House
- Modern Coastal Bedroom Makeover | Our Little Lake House
I hope you found this info helpful as you consider all of the fun DIY projects you could do with IKEA furniture! Let me know in the comments below if you've ever tried painting it and how it went for you. Happy DIYing!