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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How to Paint Laminate

UPDATE: Just thought I'd give a little progress report.  It's been close to a year and a half since I painted these, and I'm happy to say they have held up beautifully.  Not a single ding, scratch or chip in the paint, not even on the lower shelves and doors where my kids' books and toys are kept (I most definitely credit THAT to the four coats of topcoat I did on the kid wear areas!).

Let's start at the beginning, shall we?  My mom loves books.  She taught me to love books.  We both own LOTS of books...and seem to think we need more!  When I got married, I inherited two of eight big laminate bookshelves from my parents.  They were in the process of building a big beautiful dream house in which laminate anything did not belong!  Over the years of my marriage, I've gotten a few more of those bookshelves here and there as we've had room.  And now that we've bought our own house, I've got all eight.
Which brings me to the fact that they are outdated ugly laminate.  Good lines, very big and sturdy.  Just ugly cheap looking laminate.
Enter Zinsser Cover Stain Primer.  This primer is like magic.  It's designed to stick to any surface without sanding.  ANY SURFACE!  Glossy laminate surfaces included.  And to top it off (haha! if you'll pardon the pun), you can use any kind of paint on top of it.

I primed, painted, glazed and top coated seven of the eight bookshelves all at once (one was in use, so it will get painted with the next wave of furniture), not to mention ripping off the old backing and replacing it with bead board.
So let's talk numbers.

For seven bookshelves, I used:
1.5 gallons of Zinsser Cover Stain Primer @ $16.97 a gallon
1.5 gallons of Glidden Dapper Tan in Eggshell finish @ $22.97 a gallon
1 quart Valspar translucent Mocha glaze @ $16.49 a quart
1.2 gallons of Valspar Clear Protector @ $20.97 a gallon
4 ft by 8 ft bead board panels @ $19.98 each
Smooth nap rollers for primer and paint
Paintbrush and rags for glaze
Semi smooth for clear protector
Foam brushes for the corners

Grand total: About $202 for what I used ($238.21 for what I actually purchased, but there is enough of everything left for the last bookshelf and some gallery wall shelves, as well as enough glaze and topcoat for four more furniture pieces I'm planning to paint).  I'd just like to say that it would cost $479.92 to buy eight of the cheapest IKEA bookshelves of comparable height and width (but not depth...these bad boys are MUCH deeper than IKEA bookshelves).  I'm just sayin'.

So here's what I did to paint my laminate:
First step:  Take off any decorative pieces that can come off (within reason...you're just trying to make the job easier, not harder).  Wipe everything down, let it dry thoroughly.
Second step:  Get the primer in all the nooks and crannies with the foam brushes, then roll the primer onto all the flat and semi-flat surfaces.  This miracle primer dries in about an hour, and then you can do the second coat!  I definitely recommend two coats, three in the corners.  Now, this is oil based, which means smelly and impossible to clean. So I also recommend using cheap rollers and foam brushes that you can toss after using.
Third step:  Same process for the paint!  Foam brushes in the corners, then roll the paint onto the other surfaces.  Let it dry as needed, then get that second coat on. Then finish off with a third coat in the nooks and crannies with your foam brush.
In my case, this is when I started painting the bead board, as it didn't need primer.
Fourth step:  Glaze!  Glaze is tricky.  It's a tacky (as in sticky, not as in tasteless) substance, and it can be difficult to get a consistent look when you're covering a large surface.  I tried out a few things in the process, and found the best method for this project was to brush it on, then wipe/rub with a slightly damp rag to get the worn, antiqued look I was going for.
The glaze has to cure for an entire week before you can put the topcoat on, so take a rest!  (which I would have loved to do, except by the time I finished glazing seven bookshelves, it was time to start with the top coat...)
Fifth step: Top coat. Oh, how I am in love with this top coat.  I highly highly recommend it.  I was afraid I'd have to use polyurethane, which is smelly, sticky and must be brushed on.  But this, this wonderful product can be rolled on just like paint!  Dries in about four hours, and then you can put on another coat.  I put one coat all over, then two coats on the top sides of the shelves (where the books will rub) and on the inner sides (where the shelves can be adjusted).  And three to four coats on the lower shelves and doors for the bookshelves going in the family room, in which my children's books and toys will be stored!
Sixth step:  Reassemble decorative pieces, and hammer the new bead board backs on.
Just to recap, Before:
And After!
And that's that!  It was definitely excruciatingly slow time consuming, but not difficult.  And the end result....it was more than worth it.  I'm pretty smug swaggering self-satisfied happy every time I look at them.  :)

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