Can You Paint IKEA Furniture? Here’s What You Need To Know

Almost every single person is aware of IKEA. And almost every single one has bought at least an item from this household store. IKEA hacks can boost your home design at a really low cost, creating a unique place. But, the big question is: “Can you paint IKEA furniture?” And if you can, how can you do it?

A grey IKEA chest of drawers near a light grey wall and exotic plants

You can paint laminate kitchen cupboards, you can paint your garden furniture, wooden and metal, and basically, you can paint everything around the house! Would there be a problem painting IKEA furniture? Here’s a step-by-step tutorial with all you need to know!

Can you paint IKEA furniture?

The short answer to this question is YES! You can paint IKEA furniture! You can even paint particleboard covered in laminate. The most popular material in IKEA! There are, though, things you need to know before starting painting the Billy bookcase or Malm dresser.

Not all IKEA furniture is similar, and they require different paint treatments. One’s for sure! You can paint IKEA laminate melamine, wooden or metal. Then, with the right guidelines, you can give your Hemnes dresser a total makeover. Especially if it’s the first time, you ever try a DIY project.

Painting an IKEA piece of furniture with a paintbrush and red paint

What type of paint to use

There’s no limitation on which paint to use. Especially if you’re using a good quality primer which is also a sealer providing a base for your paint and works well with any topcoat.  There are 4 main types of paint, water-based, oil-based, spray paint and chalk paint. All four have their pros and cons.

1. Water-based paints


  • Water-based paints, involving latex paint (also known as plastic paint), haven’t got as many toxic fumes as oil-based paints have.
  • You can clean water-based paints very easy, simply by using water.
  • They dry fast.
  • They don’ change colour with time.

Three brushes and three colours


  • The main con of water-based paints is that there’s a great chance of bleeding and staining. That’s why priming is necessary.
  • They don’t last as long as oil-based paints do.

2. Oil-based paints


  • Oil-based paints last longer.
  • They can cover any bad odours coming from your furniture.

Set of tools for painting on wooden table background top view


  • Paintbrushes you have used with oil-based paints need to be cleaned with mineral spirits right after painting.
  • Oil-based paints tend to yellow over time.
  • They can crack at any time.
  • They have a very strong smell during and after application. However, you can read our article How to get rid of paint smell in simple steps and say goodbye to any bad odour left after painting.
  • Oil-based paints take too long to dry.

3. Chalk paints


  • You can achieve pretty easily a vintage look.
  • Applying few coats of chalk paint, you can get unique results that no other type of paint can.

A set of tools to chalk paint IKEA furniture


  • You get brush strokes.
  • You need several coats to achieve an even finish.
  • It’s less resistant than water-based paints.

4. Spray paint


  • It’s very easy to apply.
  • You get an even finish as long as you apply it the right way.
  • It doesn’t take long to dry.


  • You may need a few cans to paint a large item.
  • You won’t get even coverage.
  • It might drip if you don’t use it properly.
  • It has an intense smell.

Preparation before you start painting

Preparation is the key in all DIY projects. Therefore, before you start painting IKEA pieces, you should prepare them properly. Hence, the best to do before starting is to disassemble the piece. Then, it would be easier for you to paint the surface.

Sanding a small coffee table with sandpaper as a part of the prep work before painting it

The next thing you need to do on whatever surface you have is sanding, depending on the item you want to paint and prime. If you have small or low traffic furniture, it may not be necessary as long as you use the right primer. In contrast, if you are going to paint a large piece of furniture, you need to sand it with a fine-grit paper or a suitable block, and then apply the primer. This will help paint adhesion, reduce brush strokes, and you’ll end up with an even finish. Finally, don’t forget to clean the surface, especially after doing so, and also remove any stains from the wood.

How to paint IKEA furniture the right way

Whether you have laminate, metal or wood furniture, you can still paint the surfaces and get a durable finish and a look that will totally improve your living room or generally your home decor. So let’s have a look at the best way to paint your pieces based on the material they’re made from.

Painting laminate furniture

Painting laminate furniture is a very simple process, similar to painting any other piece. The only difference lies in sanding.

Needed materials and tools:

  • Shellac-based primer
  • Water-based primer
  • Paint (latex paint, acrylic, chalk paint)
  • Topcoat
  • Medium-grit sanding block
  • Tack cloth
  • Foam roller
  • Drop cloths
  • Paint tray
  • Paint pail

A white laminate IKEA open and makeup drawer cosmetic organiser

Then, the steps to success are:

  1. First, scuff the laminate surface with a medium-grit block and wipe the dust with a tack cloth.
  2. Next, grab the roller and apply a coat of shellac-based primer to get a long-lasting finish. In case you have large furniture, use water-based primer and follow the same process.
  3. Allow it to dry, and then apply a second coat of primer.
  4. Now, it’s time to paint. Apply 2 coats, making sure you let the first coat of paint dry first before applying the second one.

Voila!! Your laminate handmade painted furniture is ready!

Painting solid wood furniture

You’re going to need:

A solid wooden Oak table and chair

These are the steps for painting solid wood furniture:

  1. First, disassemble the item if possible or remove all the knobs, pulls, and other hardware.
  2. Next, sand lightly on the surface. Depending on the size of the item, use sanding paper and block or a sander. Afterwards, wipe the dust away with water and paper towels. You can use a damp cloth as well.
  3. It’s priming time. One coat will be enough. If you aren’t satisfied with the result, apply a second coat of prime. You can also scuff the primer with sandpaper. It isn’t necessary, but you can do it as long as it has dried.
  4. After priming, you can start painting your furniture. You might need to apply more than two coats of paint. However, always allow the paint to dry between coats. An extra tip; If you see any brush strokes or stuck debris, sand between coats to achieve a smooth finish.
  5. Once the paint dries completely, add your topcoat and let it dry. Read the labelled instructions carefully for the time the product takes to dry, as drying time differs from product to product.

And you’re done! Your furniture is ready! You can reassemble and put in place all the hardware.

Painting metal furniture

Paint spraying is probably the handiest way when it comes to painting your metal IKEA furniture, as you don’t need to disassemble your piece of furniture. But don’t think that you don’t need to prime or apply a top. In fact, you DO need both; otherwise, the paint will scratch off. They are also necessary when the metal has rust or is flaking.

Here’s what you need:

  • Scraper
  • Wire brush
  • 80 grit to 120 grit sandpaper
  • Sander
  • Sponge
  • Cloths or paper towels
  • Paint sprayer
  • Primer
  • Paint

The painting process differs whether the metal item has peeling paint or not. Let’s see what you should do in both cases.

A metal sidetable, potted plants and a metal lantern with light cotton balls

An item with peeling or chipping paint

  1. First, get a scraper or a wire brush and scrub the peeling paint.
  2. Next, sand it with 80 grit sandpaper and slowly move up to 120 grit.
  3. Using water and a sponge, get rid of dust and rust and let the item dry.
  4. Once you clean the flaking paint, prime your metal furniture.
  5. Finally, apply as many coats as necessary.
  6. Let it dry completely before use.

An item with no peeling or chipping paint

  1. Clean your item with a damp cloth or using water and paper towels.
  2. Next, you need to apply a primer.
  3. And final step; Paint your piece. Again,  you may need several coats of paint.

Important tips

  1. After painting, you should apply a sealer, varnish or a top, depending on the material you have and whether you want a glossy or matte finish.
  2. Opt for a shellac-based primer. It might smell really bad. However, it’s the best product to prevent the paint from having any issues.
  3. Get a smooth roller brush or to get an even finish.
  4. Always let the paint and sealant dry before reassembling and using the piece of furniture.

A white couch between a metal coffee table and a black office with paintings and greenery

Painting your IKEA furniture is as simple as painting any other wood or metal furniture. You can paint whatever πιεψε you like, from just a tabletop to bookshelves and dressers. Opt for the method that fits you and enjoy your repainted pieces of furniture!

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