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I get about ten emails a week asking about how to paint cheap, laminate plastic furniture. Yes you can paint laminate!  The key to getting a great finish is using the right products!  I will tell you  exactly how I paint laminate including the products I use.  I am not receiving any money or free products for my recommendations.

Yesterday I showed you pictures of the progress on my TV armoire.  The piece is a laminate base with wooden doors.  IMG_0306 I have tried a lot of different primers.  My tried and true one when painting laminate is Zinsser BIN Primer.  They have it in a spray as well.

BIN brags that there is no need to sand.  Did you say, no need to sand?  Yepsie daisy!  sandpaper BIN is a shellac formula which means it is alcohol-based.  But once the alcohol evaporates from the primer, in about 45 minutes, the shellac finish is fully cured. For those of you who paint you know this is a big deal!  Most water-based primers take a full 7 days to cure! Not only can you proceed immediately to putting on the finish paint, but you greatly speed up the time your house is ripped apart due to painting.  I like that.  And because a bunch of you will ask, you can use any paint over the top of BIN.  I always use a water-based latex, simply because of the clean up. However, I always wait one week before I put anything on top of painted furniture.  I will put accessories on it for blog photography purposes but then I take them off and get some cure time before I replace them. Did you know that water-based paint takes 21 days to fully cure?

Okay back to the BIN primer. So you get a hard finish and can paint quick, what are the negatives? IT STINKS TO HIGH HEAVENS and it is more of a hassle to remove the paint from your tools. You’ll need to use mineral spirits to get your brushes clean. However, I think the positives far outweigh the negatives, especially when painting laminate.

I use a small foam roller on the flat surfaces.  I use one for the primer and a different one for the paint.

Now, you can use the cheap-o brushes for the primer if you want.  That will help your clean up process of not having to use mineral spirits to get your brushes clean.  But for the paint I use an angled Purdy Paintbrush to get in the corners and crevices. Quality products gives me quality results.

I actually do not use any sort of polyurethane over the top of the paint.  It does give it an extra layer of protection.  However, I don’t find it necessary.  I can honestly say that I have ever had paint chip.  But I also do it right the first time because I hate touch up painting.

I am sure there are other ways of doing it but this works for me.  Happy Laminate Painting friends!

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  1. I have this exact same armoire. I bought it on Craigslist for $40. It's in pretty good shape now but I'm so glad to know I can paint it if I decide to in the future. Thanks for the info!

  2. Thank you for the tips! I've never used BIN primer mainly because of the smelly factor. If it really works, I may need to try it in the future. Thanks again.

  3. Great tips – and I honestly knew nothing about letting paint cure. I needed this info. Thank you!!

  4. Thank-you so much for sharing these tips on painting laminate. I have a laminate blonde bedroom set that I would like to paint in the future, and this will prove very helpful. Another bookmark for me.

  5. sweet! The thought of sanding furniture down first is really daunting! thanks for the share.

  6. Thank you sooo much. I have a bedroom set for the kids that I've wanted to paint and this is exactly what I need for it. And the fact that it comes in a spray is awesome because one piece is a crib.

  7. This was very timely! I've been eyeing a bookshelf in our dining room but couldn't remember the name of the primer I've seen people in Blogland using on laminate. Thank you for the tips!

    PS. Apparently AOL hates me and I wasn't sure if you got my last email about Monday afternoon. (Think I sent it yesterday afternoon) If you didn't receive it, I can send it to you from my gmail account that I use for blog business. Sorry for the hassle. :s

  8. It is SO NICE to have people out in "Blog Land" that do all the experimenting and then pass on their knowledge to us!! Thus you save us lots of time and $$$. Thank you so much for everything you do to help us. One quick question – should I/could I use this same primer over polyurethane?? Thanks again – you're the best!

  9. Thanks for the excellent tips! I have a lovely desk that I picked up for $5 (yard sale) sitting in my garage. It's waiting to be transformed into my new sewing desk! 🙂

  10. Great tip about BIN primer. I've been using the Gripper primer for my laminate pieces. I haven't had any problems yet, but then they've all been done in the past year. Never knew it took 21 days for paint to cure…explains why I got some scuffs on a bedside table.

  11. Extremely helpful! I have avoided painting laminate in the past because I was unsure of which products to use, but I will take your advice the next time I have the opportunity to paint laminate. THANKS!

  12. We just scored a super cute cabinet for FREE at a garage sale but it's laminate! So I'm definitely trying this! Thanks for the post!

  13. That is good to know! I have skipped second-hand pieces in the past b/c I was also told they don't take paint. "Yeah" to you for figuring it out!

  14. I didn't know about the curing process. Thanks for the info! I have many pieces that have chipped, most recently a magazine got stuck on my painted nightstand!!! ACK!!! I'll have to scrape it off, re-touch and then let it cure for 21 days, I guess.

  15. Thank you so much for posting these instructions (and for making your blog humorous – I love the red X through the sandpaper….). Can't wait to try it on some awful laminate.

  16. Thanks for posting this, its very helpful! But I'm lazy and I was wondering if you think it would be better/last longer if I brush paint or can I spray paint both??

  17. Nice posts, and all..but for practicality purpose, has anyone actually USED this method other than the writer? I want to know that I, being a novice, am not getting myself into a project that will end up costing me more to fix than it would have to just reface the cabinets.

  18. i am aboujt to use this method 0n a bed i bought thinking it was wood what kind of paint do i use i am painting it a gloss white?

  19. I read your blog after researching lots on the best way to refinish our laminate bathroom vanity. I used this primer and seems to work great, dries very quickly so you have to work fast! It didn’t seem to smell as bad as I thought it would, opened the window and I didn’t even really notice it too much! Thanks so much for the tips, haven’t had much experience with primers so thanks for sharing your tried and true products after your experience!

  20. hi beckie i just wen tto buy the primer but didnt have it do you think zinsser bulls eye water base primer and sealer will work also since its from the same maker?

  21. i would only use it if it says made for plastics. I am not exactly sure since it is a water based if it would be the best choice or not.

  22. I have seen other posts from other writers that collaborate her method! I have read at least 3 others. If you have a pinterest account search it on there or do a google search…maybe you will find more there.

  23. Thank you for the new found knowledge! Do you think a quart is enough for two bookcases and a desk?

  24. Hello, I just read your blog on painting laminated surfaces and I found it very helpful in buying the products I needed to do the job but I do have a question. Did you use the BIN primer on the wood sections of the piece you refinished?

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