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How to Paint IKEA Furniture with Flawless Results

Learning the nitty-gritty of how to paint IKEA furniture is the first step in transforming your less-loved pieces into personalized masterpieces. It is an exciting project that breathes new life into standard pieces. The Swedish giant’s affordable and minimalist designs offer a blank canvas for DIY enthusiasts looking to inject their unique style into their living spaces.

However, painting IKEA furniture involves more than just slapping on a coat of paint; it requires specific steps to ensure the finish is durable, smooth, and professional-looking. Let’s get into it, giving you a complete walkthrough of the entire process, from selecting the right paint and tools to applying the finishing touches so you can elevate your IKEA finds into custom treasures that reflect your personal flair and creativity.

Preparing Your IKEA Furniture


When embarking on the task of how to paint IKEA furniture, the initial step is to ensure that the piece is impeccably clean and free from any dust or grease.

Photo Credit: Canva Pro

Begin by wiping down the surface with a mild soap and water solution. It’s crucial to use a soft cloth to avoid scratching the furniture’s finish. After cleaning, make sure the surface is completely dry before moving on to the next step. This ensures that the paint will adhere properly and provide a smooth finish.


Next, sanding the furniture is an essential part of the preparation process. This not only helps to roughen up the slick surface of most IKEA finishes, allowing the new paint to stick better, but it also smoothens any imperfections that could mar the final look.

Photo Credit: Canva Pro

Use 120 fine-grit sandpaper and gently sand the surface in a circular motion. Be thorough yet gentle to avoid creating deep scratches. Once the entire piece has been sanded, go over it once more with a clean, dry cloth to remove all the sanding dust. With these preparations complete, your furniture is now ready for a beautiful transformation.

Choosing the Right Primer and Paint


Choosing the right primer and paint is crucial for achieving a professional finish. For most IKEA pieces, which are typically made from particleboard or MDF and have a laminate finish, it’s essential to opt for a primer that can adhere well to smooth surfaces.

Photo Credit: Amazon

An oil-based primer or a shellac-based primer tends to work best as they create a reliable base for the paint to stick to, reducing the chances of peeling or chipping later on.


Once the primer is set and dried, it’s time to select the paint. For furniture that sees regular use, such as chairs and tables, using a semi-gloss or gloss paint is advisable because of its durability and ease of cleaning. Acrylic or oil-based paints are popular choices, offering durability and a smooth finish.

These types of paint are less likely to show wear and tear and can stand up to frequent cleaning without losing their luster. Remember, just knowing how to paint IKEA furniture isn’t enough, patience is key—allow ample drying time between coats to ensure the best results.

Photo Credit: Canva Pro

Step-by-Step Guide to Painting IKEA Furniture

Step 1

Begin by disassembling the furniture as much as possible. This step will help you reach all the nooks and crannies, ensuring an even coat. Lay down a drop cloth or old sheets to protect your work area, and use painter’s tape to cover any hardware or parts of the furniture you don’t want to be painted.

Step 2

Give your piece a quick wipe-down just to ensure you have removed all the dust from sanding. Now, you’re ready to apply a primer, which will further help the paint stick and also cover any existing stains or colors that might bleed through.

Photo Credit: Canva Pro

Allow your primer to dry thoroughly. You can check the recommended dry times on the label, but it doesn’t hurt to let the primer dry for at least 24 hours.

Step 3

Apply your chosen paint in thin, even layers, allowing adequate drying time between coats. A topcoat or sealer can be added for extra durability, especially for pieces that will see heavy use. Before applying your topcoat, allow the paint to dry for at least 24 hours. You can choose between different finishes, such as matte, satin, or glossy, depending on the desired look. Water-based polyurethane is a popular choice because it dries clear and doesn’t yellow over time, keeping the colors vibrant and true.

Enjoying Your Newly Revamped IKEA Furniture

Once you’ve mastered how to paint IKEA furniture, the satisfaction of seeing your updated pieces spark new life into your space is unmatched. Whether you opted for a sleek monochrome look or infused a pop of color, the refreshed furniture not only enhances the aesthetics of your home but also reflects your personal style.

Photo Credit: Canva Pro

Sitting back and admiring your handiwork, you’ll feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing that you’ve personalized a piece of standard furniture into something uniquely yours.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What type of paint should I use on IKEA furniture?

For most IKEA furniture, which is often made of laminate or veneer, it’s best to use a primer designed for adhesion (like Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Based Primer) followed by either an acrylic latex paint or furniture paint. These types of paint adhere well and are durable for furniture use.

Do I need to sand IKEA furniture before painting?

Yes, light sanding is recommended to improve paint adhesion. Use a fine-grit sandpaper (between 120-220 grit) to lightly scuff the surface. This doesn’t mean removing the finish entirely but rather just creating a slightly rough texture to help the primer and paint stick.

How do I ensure the paint doesn’t peel off?

The key to preventing peeling is proper preparation and priming. After sanding, clean the surface thoroughly with a degreaser or a mild detergent solution to remove any dust, grease, or residues. Apply a good quality primer designed for slick surfaces. Let the primer dry completely before applying your topcoat.

Can I use spray paint on IKEA furniture?

Yes, spray paint can be an excellent choice for IKEA furniture, especially for pieces with intricate details or hard-to-reach areas. Ensure you choose a spray paint suitable for the furniture’s material, and use it in a well-ventilated area. Multiple light coats are better than one heavy coat to avoid drips.

How many coats of paint do I need?

Typically, you’ll need one to two coats of primer and two coats of paint for the best coverage and durability. However, this can vary depending on the color and type of paint you’re using. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next.

What should I do if the paint chips or gets scratched?

For minor chips or scratches, simply sand the area lightly with fine-grit sandpaper, clean the surface, and apply a new layer of paint. If you’re using touch-up paint, try to apply it as thinly and evenly as possible to blend with the surrounding area.

How long should I wait before using the painted furniture?

While paint may feel dry to the touch within hours, it can take up to a few weeks to fully cure. It’s best to wait at least 24-48 hours before handling the furniture and avoid placing anything heavy on it. For optimal results, wait at least a week before using the furniture normally to ensure the paint has hardened sufficiently to withstand regular use.

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Holly Antoine

Holly Antoine is a Home, Lifestyle and DIY content creator. After leaving behind an 11-year career in the dental field to pursue her passion for design and decor, she developed her own branded site, HollyGrace.ca, where she shares her love of home design, decor, DIYs and inspires others to get creative and build[...]

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