Thursday, August 11, 2011

Laminate Tops - Embrace Them!

Have you ever purchased a dresser or desk second hand with the intention of refinishing it, only to realize the top looks like it's made of plastic?  My first encounter with this hard top was a couple years ago when I purchased the vintage, french provincial dresser for Isabelle shown here:


At the time I wondered if the steps I was taking to paint it were going to ensure that it held up over time or not.  It's now been two and a half years and it's held up perfectly.  I've liked the durability of the laminate top so much that I specifically searched for a similar dresser for Madeline a few months ago. 


I thought I'd share the steps I use to achieve a quality finished product.

Let me start by showing you what can easily happen when working with a slick, hard surface if the correct preparation is not followed: peeling.  Geh.


Start by roughing up the laminate with a 60 grit sandpaper.  The goal is to create a surface the primer will adhere well to.  Don't skimp on the roughing, as this is the most important step to avoid peeling.
Next, apply a liberal coat of oil-based primer - Kilz is my favorite (Zinnser works well too).  Sand your primer with a 180-220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface for your paint.  Then paint like normal.

Here are a few of the things I've refinished this year with a laminate top.






Can you tell I like french provincial furniture?


37 comments:

  1. Natty,
    Thanks for sharing; its good information that I will be using this weekend, I scored an amazing dresser for $10 bucks on Sunday and it has a laminate top but I won't be afraid now that I've been informed :)

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  2. Natty,

    I love how you re-envision furniture and breathe a modern aesthetic into classic lines. I continue to be inspired by what you've done to your Bali Hai pieces as that was my childhood bedroom set, and I fortunately still have it today! Several years ago I painted the bachelors chest but have since moved it to my dining room and am now trying to muster the nerve to paint it a bright / bold color as an accent piece. I guess it is only paint and if I get it wrong the first time it can be repainted. Definitely will follow your advise for painting the laminate; mine has chipped but not peeled so far.

    Do you also recommend a poly coat on top of the paint to harden / protect the surface?

    Hope you are feeling better from the "dust storm" bug.

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  3. Robin,

    I do recommend a good poly if you're using latex paint. If you're using oil, like I do, it's not necessary. Good luck!

    Natty

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  4. That is so great to know! I've always cringed at laminate, but now I know there's nothing to be afraid of. :) All of those pieces are gorgeous!

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  5. Thanks for the great laminate info-I'm your newest follower-your furniture refinishing is amazing!

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  6. I love your choices. The bright colors and the furniture style just speak to me. Where do you find such gorgeous pieces?
    Barb

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  7. Thanks so much for the tips. I picked up a french provencial dresser that had a hutch that went on top. I didn't realize that the front of the drawers where laminate. When I got it home and found that out, I sold it without even trying to do anything with it. I bought it for $20 and sold it for $20...dang it! Wish I would have known that it was that easy but I'm knew to this. :/ Also, I have a question for ya. I painted a desk white then put on some Polyuerathane. It ambered within a few weeks and I ended up having to redo it. Do you know if that always happens when you use white paint and cover with Poly and if so, what should I have put on it instead? Hope to hear from you! Thanks, McKelle

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  9. Wow, that is amazing!! You've opened up a whole new dimension to shopping!! :) I always pass up the laminates thinking "awww, too bad!!" but now it is fun to realize they can be added back in to the consideration section!! ;)

    You do such fantastic work and that you made these look like such high-end pieces is inspiring!!

    Thank so much for sharing!! :)

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  10. You are so talented at doing up vintage furniture. Your blong inspired me to do up an old art deco dresser... lets just say the results only look ok from afar!

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  11. Love your blog! Just became a new follower...visiting from Miss Mustard Seed.

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  12. Natty!
    I am so inspired by your beautiful furniture re-dos! Have you ever purchased a dresser with a leather top? I bought a set of 3 dressers hoping to redo them and discovered they have leather tops. What to do? is the question. I'm brand new to painting furniture and not sure where to start...maybe with a twin bed. :)

    Marie

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  13. Can we see the top of the next piece with a previous laminate top?
    Also do you spray, roll or brush and how do you decide which method to use.

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  14. Love your furniture! I also have the same question.... do you spray all your pieces and do you also spray on the primer? Do you only use oil based paints? Thanks a lot!

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  15. Love your furniture!! Do you spray all your pieces & do you also spray on your primer? Do you leave the inside of the drawers unpainted? I thought oil based paint was no longer available... hmmm Thanks a lot!

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  16. Good to know. I have a dresser that has a laminate top. I haven't refinished it partly because the top is in such good shape, I was worried I'd just ruin the whole thing if I touched it.

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  17. Great tips! Thanks! There really is nothing worse than peeling paint, this is a life-saver!

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  18. Thanks for sharing this information. My friend gave me a French Provincial desk that had already been painted and the top is peeling. So I know what to do know. Thanks. Love your pieces.

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  19. That is hilarious that you did the same thing I did. I have the exact same french provincial dresser that you have for your daughter. My goal was to paint it and strip the top a la' Ms. Mustard Seed style. Only to find it was laminate and it's been sitting in my garage ever since! If I use an oil base primer for the laminate don't I have to use oil based paint for the whole dresser? I only like to work with waterbase semi-gloss paint.

    xo Lisa
    Urban Cottage Decor

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  20. Great info and lovely projects! Love all of the bright colors!!!

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  21. Great tips. I've inherited a couple side tables with a laminate finish I think might be worth saving.

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  22. Fabulous post!! And your furniture is gorgeous!!

    I featured it on my TT&J facebook page :)

    xox
    Jen

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  23. Hi Natty,

    Great post!! I knew you could easily paint laminate, but I still have been hesitant. This post gives me more guts that it will hold up over time (which was my concern).I normally paint all my furniture/cabinets with an enamel paint... but I noticed you prefer oil. Have you used enamel paint? How do you think they compare.

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  24. Painted mine with Kilz Oil-based primer, then sprayed with non-oil based paint. Looks great! Plan to finish with polyurethane spray to protect. No sanding. Will see how it holds up!

    Lisa

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  25. Love your blog. Found you on pinterest:) I have a dresser from a store like Ikea (I'm sure the whole thing is fake wood)& I was going to add molding and paint. will the painting advise apply for the whole piece of furniture? Or does the primer and paint stick better just to the top if it is lamanant? Thanks

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  26. Hey Nat ~ Do you remember what color you used for that robin's egg-type blue dresser? I just got the most darling, antique "waterfall" dresser for Lila and thought you would appreciate it. I was thinking I wanted to do it a color like this and had pinned this dresser of yours on pinterest. Thanks! Love you!

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  27. Kim BehmerApril 04, 2012

    So you sand, paint with kilz and sand again?

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  28. I just bought a dresser like this and was a little scared of the laminate top but not anymore! How do you like painting with oil-based on furniture? I'm keeping this dresser for my bedroom and want it to last... is the oil-based better than latex? Thanks!

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  29. Absolutely gorgeous!!! That robin's egg blue dresser is to die for!

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  30. I love this post! I am totally going to feature it on my site tomorrow (Saturday!) And seriously, we need to meet up someday! You live way too close for us to not have met already!! :)

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  31. I think my kitchen cabinets are laminate, and they are white but are 16 years old and not lookng as white as time goes by, i want to paint them so bad but didnt know how to make it last. they feel slick like plastic so i am thinking this would work... I guess i could try one in my bathroom first in case it didnt work out, at least it wouldnt be out in the open as much as my kitchen....

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  32. I found this post via Somewhat Simple. I can't get over how beautiful your re-dos are. That green desk is to die for! Will this work for the cheapo Ikea stuff? Our bed is the cheap Ikea mdf/laminent stuff in a terrible color. But the terrible color was $100 than the white that I wanted. I'd LOVE to paint it!

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  33. AnonymousJuly 29, 2012

    I just love your ideas

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  34. Hi Natalie, I love your blog! I have a question about this topic. I purchased a french provincial dresser and desk for my daughter's room and am going to paint them. They both have the plastic laminated tops. I work indoors in my basement and prefer not to use anything oil based. If I rough it up good with the 60 grit sandpaper and then apply 2 coats of the zinsser bullseye water based primer, would that work as well? I'm painting with latex paint for the top coats. Can you put latex paint over an oil primer? If you could email me that would be great! emily_pressler@yahoo.com. Thank you!

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  35. My husband and I have finished our first pieces-a bedroom set for our daughters we purchased at an estate sale. Our issue is that upon first use, the drawers stuck when opening and then the paint wore off from the rubbing of opening and closing. We sanded it down to the wood, primed with 2 coats sanding between each as you describ e and applied 2 coats of BM Blackberry Wine. Do you know why this happened? Is top coat of Poly required for the whole piece, and not just the top? Any help would be greatly appreciated! diana11camp@gmail.com

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  36. Have you ever purchased a dresser or desk second hand with the intention of refinishing it, only to realize the top looks like it's made of plastic? My first encounter with this hard top was a couple years ago when I purchased the vintage, french provincial dresser for Isabelle shown here.
    Edmonton Painters
    Painters Edmonton

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