We get asked a lot “Can Ikea furniture be painted?” The answer is, of course! Whether it’s wood, veneer or laminate, you can paint Ikea furniture with the right prep work. Painting an Ikea dresser is easy if you follow the steps below! See how we gave this yellow Ikea Hemnes dresser a makeover and a completely different, fresh look by painting it!
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Step 1 – clean your Ikea dresser before painting
Furniture gets pretty dirty and the first step in painting an IKEA dresser, or any furniture really, is always to give it a good clean. We use a TSP alternative or another good degreaser like this. You can also use a mix of vinegar and water for a natural furniture cleaner.
We’re always amazed how much dirt comes off previously loved furniture, even when it looks perfectly clean!
You might be tempted to just start with the sanding but don’t! If you don’t clean your dresser first, all the grime will get sanded into the pores of the furniture and can compromise your painted finish.
Step 2 – sand your Ikea dresser before painting
Regardless if your IKEA dresser is laminate, veneer or solid wood, like this Hemnes dresser, or the type of paint you are using, you should lightly sand your furniture before painting. I know, if you’re planning on using chalk paint you were hoping to avoid this step. Don’t! I promise you it will make your paint finish better.
You do not have sand off the previous finish when you plan on painting an IKEA dresser. A light sanding with a medium grit sandpaper will add a little tooth to the surface of your IKEA furniture and help your paint adhere better to the surface.
You can use a small sander like this, or keep it simple and sand by hand with a sanding block. I usually end up hand sanding because it’s almost faster than getting out my palm sander!
Make sure to wear a mask when you are sanding. Even though you are only doing a light scuff sand, you do not want all those particles in your lungs!
Step 3 – prime your Ikea dresser before painting
If you are a chalk paint enthusiast, you may not believe in priming. And while it’s not strictly necessary for some types of paint, we highly recommend you take the time to prime before painting an Ikea dresser. We like to use this brand.
Why should you prime your Ikea furniture before painting? There are three main reasons we prime Ikea furniture before we paint it.
First, it gives your furniture a good surface for the paint to adhere to. Proper adhesion will reduce the chance your paint will peel, especially if you are using latex paint. The primer will also even out the surface of your furniture and give you an ideal, smooth surface for your paint to stick to.
Second, priming your Ikea furniture will reduce the number of coats of paint you will need. The primer will block the old surface and give you a nice neutral to apply your paint to.
Third, if your Ikea furniture happens to be wood, using a primer will block out any bleed through might come from the tannins in the wood.
Your primer layer doesn’t need to be very thick. It is okay if you can still see the old surface underneath. We only use one layer of primer. However, if you have concerns about the surface of your furniture after one coat, or you plan on painting your dark Ikea dresser white, you can apply a second coat of primer.
Step 4 – painting an Ikea dresser
Hands down, the question we get asked the most about painting furniture is what type of paint to use.
The good news is that most kinds of paint will work just fine as long as you’ve done the prep work. Latex is usually the most economical choice, but chalk, mineral and ceramic paints all work really well too. It’s really a matter of which paint you like to work with. We usually opt for mineral paint when painting furniture because it has great adhesion and the it self levels really well (which means fewer brush marks!).
We like to use a small foam roller like this when painting an Ikea dresser. You can use a brush, or even a sprayer, if there are hard to reach areas. On larger pieces we will sometimes break out our sprayer, which you can read more about here.
Pro tip: If painting with latex, consider using a paint conditioner like Floetrol. It makes it easier to work with the paint and eliminates a lot of brush marks.
You will need a minimum of two coats but most likely three. If you’re painting white, don’t be discouraged if even after three coats there are “shadowy” areas. White can be a little extra work (which you can read more about here) but it’s usually worth it to give a fresh look to your painted Ikea dresser.
Pro tip: If your mineral or chalk paint seems a little bumpy or grainy after your first coat, a very light sand with a fine grit sandpaper between coats will give you a buttery smooth finish.
Step 5 – embellish your painted Ikea dresser
Once you are finished painting, you can add extra special details to your furniture. Here are a few ideas of ways to add an extra special and unique touch when painting an Ikea dresser:
- Distress the piece with sandpaper
- Dry brush stain for a faux wood look
- Decoupage paper, tissue or fabric (read more about decoupage)
- Change out the hardware (we love these)
- Add mouldings
- Add cane (which is very trendy right now!)
Step 6 – protect your painted Ikea dresser
Now that you’re done painting your Ikea dresser and making it unique, take the time to protect the finish.
A couple coats of a matte water based poly will ensure your handiwork lasts for years to come!
Pro tip: If you painted your furniture a light color, you can minimize the chance of the top coat altering the color by mixing a touch of the paint with the top coat before you apply it. This is an especially good idea if you are painting an Ikea dresser white as even water based poly have a tendency to “yellow” a bit.
Are you convinced you can paint Ikea furniture now? Just look at how this Ikea Hemnes dresser got a whole new look! We hope you enjoyed reading our best tips for painting an IKEA dresser successfully. Painting your old Ikea furniture is a great way to save money, reduce waste and showcase your own personal style. Happy painting!