Painting Over Laminate Furniture, Contact Paper Bookshelf Makeover

These past few weeks, I’ve been painting over laminate furniture in the office and giving it a fresh makeover.

With another baby on the way, I am in organize mode! Our office is the biggest project on the list.

Our office is full of black laminate Ikea furniture. It worked great when it had a dramatically dark, masculine library-office look in the old house.

Now, between running the Etsy shop, being the family “secretary”, and working on projects, it has become “Mommy’s office”…and it is a hot mess!

Painting over laminate furniture before

Since the laminate furniture we already have is still in good shape and super functional, I thought painting it would be a good solution.

I saw a photo of a white bookshelf with a rustic wood back, and knew it would be the perfect way to update our laminate shelves, and get an affordable farmhouse look for my office! Post may contain affiliate links.

Paint over laminate bookshelf and add a backing for an affordable DIY furniture makeover! #makeover #ikeamakeover #farmhousediy #budgetdecor #homediy #farmhousestyle

Painting over Laminate Furniture

Painting over laminate furniture made me a bit nervous at first, but I realized it is almost as simple as painting over wood!

The most important thing is to use a quality primer to ensure adhesion.

Typically, I use Kilz because it has never let me down as far as sticking to stubborn surfaces. Unfortunately, it smells strong for days so I try to only use it outside.

I used BIN shellac primer for this project, followed by a latex paint. The BIN still smells during application, but it is not quite as strong. Unlike oil based, it dries completely odorless!

The paint color I used is Sherwin Williams in the color Alabaster. It is a lovely creamy white color, plus I found a gallon of it for $9 in the oops paint at Lowes…score!



1. First, remove the shelves. Next, sand the piece lightly with a medium grit sandpaper. This is important, and I learned the hard way!

Sanding laminate furniture before primer coat

2. After sanding, clean the piece thoroughly and allow it to dry.

3. Using a small foam roller, apply one even coat of BIN primer.

bin primer. Use a quality primer for painting over laminate furniture

You can use a brush to get to any spots the roller can’t reach. The foam roller helps to minimize brush marks and get a nice thin coat.

The shellac primer doesn’t wash out with water like latex, so I used a cheap disposable touch up roller and tossed it after use.

I use a mask while applying the primer, but within about a half hour, the smell dissipates completely.

4. After at least 24 hours, I applied the latex top coat. I used a roller again, with a brush to get in the nooks and crannies. To go completely from black to white, I needed three thin coats of latex.

Use a roller paint over laminate to minimize brush strokes

5. Apply the contact paper backing. This was the part I was most excited about. The instant transformation from the contact paper is pretty addicting!

First, cut the paper just a little longer than the back of the shelf. Peel just the top six inches or so, and get that aligned and smooth to the top corner of the shelf backing.

Then, slowly pull off the rest of the backing and smooth down to the base of the shelf. I used a knife to gently cut a clean line at the base to remove the excess paper.

Cut excess contact paper. painting over laminate furniture makeover

Lesson Learned

As always, I learned a couple things along the way. With the first shelf, I read the BIN can directions, and applied without sanding as directed.

The latex top coat seemed to adhere well. After a few days, I put the shelves in, I realized the shelves gouged the paint going in, and the paint scraped off! I have a feeling maybe the latex just hadn’t cured yet, but I wasn’t taking chances with the next shelf.

Of course, I had to try to get away without sanding…but in this case it was necessary!

To be safe, with the second shelf, I sanded the whole piece lightly before priming and had much better adhesion. The shelves went in fine!

The finished result is just what I was hoping for! Painting over laminate furniture and adding the fun backing was a relatively simple and affordable way to update the office!

The two contact papers I tried were a rustic wood grain, and a lighter weathered barn wood. I decided I liked the lighter one better for the office shelves, but I took photos of both!

Here is the rustic wood contact paper:

Makeover laminate furniture with paint and contact paper. A cute update on a budget! #furnitureflip #makeover #furnituremakeover #budgetdecor #ikeahacks

And the lighter plank one!

Paint over laminate shelves with BIN primer and latex paint. Easy DIY IKEA furniture flip using contact paper! #diy #makeover #furnitureflips #furnituremakeover #beforeandafter #ikeamakeover

I love how both turned out!

Right now, I am working on another project that uses contact paper, this time a chalkboard for the playroom! I can’t wait to share it with you!

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13 thoughts on “Painting Over Laminate Furniture, Contact Paper Bookshelf Makeover

  • Tonya Fiedler

    I’m so grateful for your Instructions! I acquired this chair that fits me perfectly. Only thing is that there are deep stains on the arms. And I’m not fond of the bright orange color. Can’t wait to do this! So excited!

  • Haley

    Thanks for the instructions!! Super helpful and your shelves look awesome!
    I have a question though: Is there a certain amount of time you should wait between each coat of the latex paint?

    Thank you in advance! 🙂

    • Joyeliz57 Post author

      Hi Haley!

      Thank you so much! 🙂 I waited a day between mine because I have a preschooler… and it feels like miracle just to get through one coat! However,I believe its fine to wait as little as an hour or two if the air isn’t humid and it feels dry to the touch. The back of the latex paint can should specify how long to wait for that particular brand!

  • Gerrie

    Loved this, I have a dresser that is laminate, this is a great project to change the look.
    Thanks for the great directions

  • Cheryl Hurst

    Beautiful, I love your finished product. I was looking at my old mahogany looking laminate entertainment center and thinking what could I do with it? You just answered my question. Thanks for sharing. I love the effect you created and switching my wood items from mahogany to country white is the perfect scratch for my ‘itch’ to change.

  • Allie

    Beautiful! I know you said these are IKEA. I have one from Walmart that I bought several years ago that I want to revamp. It looks exactly the same. But the back of it is a thin cardboard. Does that tack paper stick to that? I’ve never actually tried it but curious to know because I would love to use the shelf I don’t wanna waste products LOL

    • Joyeliz57 Post author

      Hello Allie! The contact paper would adhere perfectly to the cardboard back. Just apply it gently, as it is not completely rigid. 🙂

    • Joyeliz57 Post author

      The contact paper should adhere fine directly over the existing finish. I didn’t actually primer the areas where I applied the contact paper, and it is holding up great!