How to Paint Ikea Kallax

The Kallax shelf from Ikea is a popular furniture item that provides ample storage space in any homeroom. Its modular design allows you to configure it in whatever layout best suits your needs.

How to Paint Ikea Kallax

However, some people find the plain white or black color options of the Kallax dull. If you’re looking to add some personality and style to this versatile shelf unit, painting it is a great and affordable option.

In this blog post on how to paint ikea kallax, I’ll share my simple step-by-step process for repainting an Ikea Kallax to give it a fresh new look without breaking the bank. From surface preparation to application of the paint, I’ll cover everything you need to transform your Kallax into something uniquely yours.

What Will You Need?

Before you get started, ensure you have everything you need. Here are the essential supplies that you’ll require to paint your Kallax:

  • Kallax shelf unit
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Cleaning cloth or sponge
  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloth or old newspapers
  • Primer (if needed)
  • Paint in your desired color and finish
  • Paintbrush or roller
  • Optional: stencil, paint stenciling brush, and acrylic paint for designs

Once you have gathered all your supplies, let’s dive into the painting process!

10 Easy Steps on How to Paint Ikea Kallax

Step 1: Prepare the Surface

The first step in any painting project is to prepare the surface. Begin by lightly sanding the entire Kallax shelf with fine-grit sandpaper. This will help remove any gloss or sheen from the surface, allowing for better paint adhesion. Use a cleaning cloth or sponge to wipe away any dust.

Use a Cleaning Cloth

Step 2: Protect the Area

Cover your work area with a drop cloth or old newspapers to protect it from paint spills. Use painter’s tape to cover any areas of the Kallax that you don’t want to be painted, such as the edges of shelves and the inside of compartments. Be careful not to cover any areas that need to be sanded or painted.

Step 3: Apply Primer

Using a primer can be beneficial if you’re planning to use light-colored paint or if the Kallax is particularly glossy. The primer will help the paint adhere better and prevent the original color from showing through. Apply a thin, even layer of primer to the entire unit, covering all corners and edges. Allow the primer to dry completely before moving on to the next step. You may skip this step if you’re using a dark paint color or if the Kallax could be more glossy.

Step 4: Apply the Paint

Once your primer is completely dry, it’s time to apply the paint. Stir your paint thoroughly to ensure it’s well-mixed. Apply your chosen paint color to the Kallax using a paintbrush or roller. You might need more than one coat to achieve the desired color intensity and coverage, so be patient and allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next. It’s better to apply several thin coats than one thick one, resulting in a smoother finish and better adhesion. Remember to paint the edges of the shelves if you want them to match the rest of the unit.

Using a Paintbrush

Step 5: Apply a Second Coat if Needed

After your first coat of paint has fully dried, assess whether you need a second coat. This will largely depend on the color and type of paint you have chosen. If the coverage is even and you’re happy with the look, you can skip the second coat.

However, if there are streaks or the original color of the Kallax is showing through a second coat is recommended. Apply the second coat in the same manner as the first, ensuring it covers all the areas evenly. Allow the paint to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Step 6: Repeat the Process if Needed

Depending on the type and color of the paint you have chosen, you may need to apply more coats. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 until you achieve the desired color and coverage.

Remember, allowing each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next one is essential. This can take anywhere from a few hours to overnight, depending on the paint and the weather conditions.

Step 7: Add Designs (Optional)

Stenciling is an appealing option for those looking to add a touch of creativity to their Kallax. Choose a stencil that suits your style, and apply it to the dried, painted surface of the Kallax.

Using a specialized paint stenciling brush and acrylic paint, gently dab the paint onto the stencil, ensuring you don’t overload the brush, as this can cause the color to bleed under the stencil. Carefully remove the stencil while the paint is still wet. Allow the design to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Step 8: Apply a Protective Top Coat (Optional)

If you wish to protect the new paint job and add durability to your Kallax, consider applying a clear top coat. This can be especially beneficial if the shelf will be located in a busy, high-traffic area. Choose a top coat that complements your paint’s finish (matte, semi-gloss, or gloss) and apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow it to dry completely before moving to the next step.

Applying a Clear Top Coat

Step 9: Remove the Painter’s Tape

Once the paint and top coat (if used) are completely dry, carefully remove the painter’s tape from the Kallax. Do this slowly to avoid pulling off any of the new paint along with the tape. This step is crucial to ensure clean, sharp edges on your Kallax and to prevent any unintentional removal of your fresh paint job.

Step 10: Assemble and Enjoy Your Newly Painted Kallax

Now, all that’s left to do is assemble your Kallax according to the instructions provided by Ikea. Place your newly painted and personalized Kallax in your chosen spot and enjoy the fresh, new look it brings to your space. Remember, with a little creativity and effort, you can transform any simple piece of furniture into a statement piece that reflects your unique style and personality.

By following these ten easy steps, you know how to paint Ikea Kallax without sweat.

5 Additional Tips and Tricks

  1. Use Acrylic Paint: For best results, use acrylic paint as it’s known for its durability and comes in a variety of colors.
  2. Use the Right Paint: When painting Ikea furniture, it’s essential to use paint that adheres well to the laminate surface. Consider using a primer before painting to provide a good base for the paint to stick.
  3. Sand Lightly: Light sanding can help the paint to adhere better. Remember to wipe off the dust after sanding before you start painting.
  4. Multiple Thin Coats: Instead of one thick layer of paint, apply multiple thin coats. This will result in a smoother and more professional-looking finish.
  5. Patience is a Virtue: Allow enough time for each coat of paint to dry before applying the next coat. Rushing this process might result in a more-than-optimal finish.

With these additional tips and tricks, you can achieve a flawless paint job on your Ikea Kallax. As always, take your time, be patient, and have fun with it!

5 Things You Should Avoid

  1. Avoid Using Non-Adhesive Paints: Non-adhesive paints may not stick well to the laminate surface of Ikea Kallax. It could lead to peeling or chipping over time, ruining your hard work.
  2. Skipping Sanding: Although it might seem tempting to skip the sanding process, it’s an essential step for paint adherence. Ignoring it might result in a patchy, uneven finish.
  3. Rushing the Drying Process: Trying to expedite the drying process using heat or fans can lead to cracks in the paint or an uneven finish. Always allow each coat of paint to dry naturally.
  4. Ignoring Safety Measures: Pay attention to safety measures when painting. Use a mask, gloves, and safety glasses to protect yourself from harmful paint fumes and dust.
  5. Neglecting Clean-Up: Keeping your workspace clean might lead to accidents or damage to other items. Always clean the area and properly dispose of or store any leftover paint and tools after painting.
Use a Mask

Avoiding these mistakes can significantly contribute to the success and longevity of your Ikea Kallax painting project.


Overall, how to paint ikea kallax is an easy and cost-effective way to give your home a new look. We have covered everything from choosing the right supplies, prepping the surfaces, and applying the paint to create a unique and personalized piece of furniture. So what are you waiting for? Grab your brushes and get creative with your Kallax! You can experiment with different colors and patterns or add some stenciling or decals for an extra touch of personality.

Don’t forget to share your photos on social media using the hashtag #KallaxMakeover – we would love to see your transformations! Plus, you will have a beautiful custom piece of furniture and the satisfaction of knowing that you did it yourself.

So say goodbye to plain white Ikea furniture and hello to a one-of-a-kind showstopper in your living space. Let’s all raise our paintbrushes and cheers to a successful Kallax makeover! Happy painting!

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian is a woodworking hobbyist and has loved Woodworking since he was 10 years old. Back then in childhood, his father used to have a furniture shop. He used to help his dad and learned a lot from him about how to fix woodworking furniture, basic carpentry knowledge and also about how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others.

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