How to Paint Laminate Counters, Cabinets & Furniture

Many homes today are filled with laminate surfaces, whether they are kitchen cabinets or bath countertops, or inexpensive, ready-to-install bookshelves, desks or other furniture. Because these surfaces aren’t porous like natural wood or stone, you can’t simply slap a coat of paint on them and always get the results you want. Like many other paint projects, you have to take some time to prepare laminate surfaces for painting. Keep reading to find out how.

Step 1: Prepare the Surface

Prepping laminate surfaces before painting them is of the utmost importance to insure that your paint adheres. If you’re painting a laminate piece of furniture, you may need to disassemble it to paint it properly. Remove any hardware and take off any doors or other removable parts using a screwdriver or another applicable tool. Clean the surface with mild detergent, water and a sponge. Let it dry thoroughly. Remember to also make any repairs now if necessary.

If painting a countertop, remove all items from it and clean the whole surface using water, mild detergent and a sponge or cloth. Remove all dirt, grease, dust and debris. Get into every nook and cranny, including around appliances. Be sure that all grease is removed because it will affect how paint adheres to the countertop. Allow the surface to dry completely. After it has dried, go over the surface with a tack cloth or slightly damp cloth to remove dust and lint.

If your countertops have any damage, you can simply fill in holes and cracks with wood filler and then sand the filler down after it dries.

Use a fine-grit sandpaper to lightly roughen surfaces so that your primer and paint will adhere effectively to the laminate. Wipe away all dust from sanding with a damp cloth. Countertops may require additional sanding to remove any glossy polycoat on the surface to which paint would struggle to adhere. Poor paint adhesion would lead to undesirable results, especially on a countertop. You can also use a paint prep product like Savogran Pre-paint Deglosser. It will dull the finish and can be painted within a few minutes. Test in an inconspicuous area first and make sure you have good ventilation.

Helpful Tip

If painting laminate countertops or cabinets, keep in mind that your use of the room will be limited for at least a couple of days until the work is finished.

Place drop cloths on the floor where you’re working, and secure them with painter’s tape so that they won’t shift around. Cover anything that cannot be removed from the countertop with plastic sheeting and painter’s tape. Also apply painter’s tape where a countertop meets walls or other surfaces to keep unwanted paint off of them.

Safety Alert!

Be sure there’s adequate ventilation in the room where you will be painting. Open windows and use a fan to push out paint fumes and bring in fresh air.

Step 2: Prime the Surface

Priming the surface is required for best results. Pour True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Interior Primer/Sealer into a paint tray and apply it to the surface using a small roller applicator. Keep a small, angled paintbrush for hard-to-reach areas and edges and to fill in any areas the roller missed. Complete at least one coat of primer. You may need two coats or more, depending on how dark the surface is that you’re painting. Let the primer coats dry completely before starting the next step. For very glossy surfaces, you might need to use the True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Interior Primer/Sealer. It has greater adhesion to glossy or slick surfaces.

Step 3: Paint

Apply True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Interior Paint to the surface using a high-density foam mini-roller. Allow the first coat of paint to dry completely. Apply a second coat of paint for best results. If you are painting furniture, you will want to use a semi-gloss finish or a satin finish if you don’t want it to appear shiny. If you are painting a countertop, you will want to use a semi-gloss finish or high-gloss finish for a surface that will be easier to clean.

There are also a number of paints and paint kits formulated for countertop renewal, such as Rust-Oleum® Countertop Coating and Rust-Oleum® Countertop Transformations Kits. The countertop coating also does not require priming the surface before use. Follow all label instructions.

Step 4: Apply Varnish Topcoat (for countertops)

Adding a few coats of polyurethane will enhance the shine effect of your painted countertop and protect it. Apply the polyurethane using a high-density foam mini-roller. Use a small, high-quality brush for hard-to-reach areas or places where you need finely tuned strokes. Let this dry completely for the manufacturer-recommended time before returning items to their usual place on the counter or before using it for any food preparation.

Step 5: Clean Up

Pick up your drop cloths or tarps and close up your paint cans. Dispose of empty paint cans appropriately. Clean paint brushes and other tools with warm, soapy water. Thoroughly rinse your roller covers and brushes in water until the water runs clear, then place them in a brush/roller spinner, if you have one, to remove excess liquid. Note: If you used one of the Rust-Oleum® countertop products, follow the manufacturer instructions on cleanup. Non-latex paints cannot be cleaned up with water. Store applicators in their protective sleeves or hang them on nails or hooks. Pick up drop cloths carefully, making sure you don’t spread around any paint that may have gotten on them. Next, remove painter’s tape at a 45-degree angle to avoid removing any fresh paint. Remember that the longer it stays on, the harder it is to remove.

That’s it! Now you’ve got the know-how to paint laminate surfaces the right way right from the start.

Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.