I’m often asked if painting laminate furniture is possible. How do I paint laminate furniture? Well, the process is pretty much exactly like painting any other type of furniture. When painting furniture of any kind proper preparation is critical. Painting is the easy part. The prep work is the hard part. Honestly, prep work sucks, but it is so important. Good prep work is what will make for a quality paint finish that will last for years to come.

I mentioned yesterday that I am painting a laminate dresser that came out of a smokers home. Cleaning was the first step in properly preparing this dresser for paint (cleaning is a big deal, paint will not stick to grime and gunk). After a good scrub down this dresser was ready for the next step… primer.

Choosing the right primer is really important. This dresser is made of laminate, so a bonding or adhesive primer is the best choice. When painting a high gloss, non porous surface look for a primer that specifically states on its label that it adheres to those types of surfaces. Zinsser Cover Stain is a bond coat that sticks to ALL surfaces. The label even says that sanding is not necessary, but I sand a little bit anyways.

I consider sanding another necessary step in the prep work. I always sand every piece of furniture that I paint with a 220 grit sandpaper. Just a light sanding is all it takes to create a tooth for the paint to adhere to.

I chose to use an oil based primer on this dresser. The reason I used oil is because, as I mentioned yesterday, this dresser was covered in nicotine stains. Nicotine is a water soluble stain and water soluble stains are best blocked with oil based primer.

Here the dresser is with one coat of primer on it. You can see that the primer got excellent coverage, so one coat will do the job. I hope to get a coat of bright yellow on it sometime soon, but it is supposed to rain like crazy for a few days and rain is not good painting weather.


5 Responses to Choosing the right primer

  1. Useful tips here! I will be doing some painting this weekend and this post is helpful!

  2. Lena says:

    Hi Deana,
    Did you use a brush and roller to apply the oil base primer or do you use a HVLP gun? If you used the gun what pressure do I need to have in my compressor for oil base primers? Do you thin them? Thank you.
    P.S: love your work!

  3. Deana says:

    Hi Lena, I use an HVLP spray gun for everything. I do not thin oil based paints at all, they are usually thin and don’t need to be. My gun requires 40 psi.

  4. Debra Richards says:

    Hi Deana, I recently tried spraying zinsser 123 water based primer using my new hvlp spray gun. I thinned up to %17 and still could not get it to spray. Am using 1.5 needle. Am considering getting 1.8 but hate expending the cash if that won’t work either. What size tip do you use and would you have any suggestions for me? I really want to be able to spray primer. Love watching all of your videos!

  5. Deana says:

    Hi Debra, Hmmm… that is weird. What was the problem? Did it not spray at all or did you get splatter? I use a 1.4 most of the time and I typically don’t thin most of what I spray. Have you used this gun to successfully paint with other products?