IKEA Bookcase Makeover--How to Paint Laminate

AFFORDABLE DIY | PAINTED LAMINATE | BUFFALO CHECK | DIY CHALK PAINT | WEEKEND DIY PROJECT

I’m a sucker for the clearance section at any store, and IKEA is no exception. I found this gem there the other day:

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As far as I could tell, the only problem with it was that it looked like...well, a boring laminate IKEA bookcase. I may be the only person on the planet who buys brand new furniture just so I can paint it, but thirty bucks and the fact that I didn’t have to assemble anything made this a great deal.

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I already had paint on hand—the pink was already mixed with BB Frösch Paint Transformer from my filing cabinet makeover (Benjamin Moore Pacific Grove Pink). I mixed the navy paint (Benjamin Moore Hale Navy) with twice as much BB Frösch Paint Transformer  as the directions call for because I wanted a little extra bonding for the laminate. I also used a light gray that is not pictured here. It was also already mixed and leftover from a previous project.

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NOTE: If you don't add BB Frösch Paint Transformer to your paint, your paint will peel right off laminate.

I also used wooden furniture legs from Home Depot. They cost less than $4 each.

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I removed the back of the bookcase and painted it separately. I almost always remove the backs of bookcases and hutches because it is a LOT easier to paint that way.

The pink paint had gotten kind of thick (like frosting) because I had mixed it several months ago. Usually, I tell people if their mixed paint thickens after storing to just stir and thin slightly with water. For this project, I decided to use the thickened paint—the coverage was incredible (one coat) and it applied great!

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I wanted a buffalo check background, but I didn’t want the squares to be “perfect." I wanted them to look a little more like they do when they are on fabric. So, instead of taping of stripes and squares (which would have taken a lot longer, anyway), I just measured and marked off every three inches. Then, I used a stencil edge as a guide, and painted grey stripes 3” wide. I used a cheap chip brush to create the look I was after.

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When the grey stripes were dry, I did the same thing going the other direction with navy paint. Then, I used the edges of small stencils to section off where I wanted the darker blue squares to be.

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The blue tape is covering the stencil patterns that I didn’t want to accidentally paint.

I just went over these squares a couple more times with the navy paint so they would look more solid.

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I painted the rest of the bookcase navy. The first coat never looks awesome, but don’t let that scare you.

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When painting laminate, it is better to start with one thin coat, then let the paint cure overnight. Even though the paint will dry in minutes, it will lift a lot more easily if it hasn’t cured. I painted the second coat the next day, and two coats was all I needed. When painting the second coat, don’t overwork your brush, or the first coat will lift.

Once the bookcase was painted, I enlisted the help of my trusty assistant to paint the legs.

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This is one of my favorite things about chalk painting. My granddaughter always wants to help, and I don't have to say "no." The paint won’t hurt her, and she actually does a better job of painting in cross-hatch strokes than most adults!

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Finally, I waxed the entire piece with BB Frösch Clear Premium Finishing Wax.

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Fun fact: apparently, IKEA knows their bookcases are a little boring, so they pre-drill them for legs to be screwed in! This made attaching the legs a lot easier than I had anticipated.

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With a little help from Blaire, my new bookcase looks a million times better than it did in the back of the IKEA clearance center!

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