How to Paint Laminate Shelves

Revitalizing laminate shelves through a fresh coat of paint is a cost-effective and creative way to breathe new life into your living spaces. Laminate, while durable, can sometimes lack the aesthetic appeal that a vibrant or subdued color palette can bring. Whether you’re looking to match your shelves to a room’s decor or simply seeking a change, understanding the proper steps for painting laminate is crucial.

In this guide, we’ll delve into how to paint laminate shelves, exploring the necessary preparations, best paint choices, and application techniques.

From priming to sealing, mastering the nuances of painting laminate surfaces will not only enhance the visual appeal of your shelves but also add a personalized touch to your home decor.

How to Paint Laminate Shelves

Uncover the secrets to achieving a professional-looking finish and embark on a DIY journey that combines practicality with a splash of creativity, turning your laminate shelves into stylish focal points within your living spaces.

Reasons for Painting Laminate Shelves

Painting laminate shelves may seem like an unnecessary task, especially since they are already coated with a durable and smooth finish. However, there are various reasons why you may want to consider painting your laminate shelves.

1. To Update the Look

Laminate shelves often come in basic and neutral colors that can become dull or outdated over time. Painting them allows you to update the look and feel of your shelves without having to replace them completely. You can choose any color or finish that complements your existing decor, giving your space a fresh and modern look.

2. To Cover up Damage

Laminate shelves are prone to scratches, chips, and fading over time. If you have old or damaged laminate shelves, painting them can help cover up these imperfections and make them look brand new again. This is a more cost-effective solution compared to buying new shelves.

3. To Customize the Design

Painting your laminate shelves gives you the opportunity to personalize and customize their design according to your preferences. You can add patterns, stencils, or even create an ombre effect for a unique and one-of-a-kind look. This allows you to be creative and express your style in your living space.

You Can Add Patterns

4. To Protect the Surface

While laminate shelves are known for their durability, they can still be susceptible to moisture and scratches if not properly maintained. By painting them, you add an extra layer of protection to the surface, making it more resistant to daily wear and tear. This is especially beneficial for shelves located in high-traffic areas or used to store heavy items.

5. To Coordinate with Other Furniture

If you have laminate furniture, such as a bookshelf or TV stand, painting your laminate shelves can help create a cohesive look throughout your space. By using the same color or finish, you can tie all your furniture pieces together for a more cohesive and aesthetically pleasing look.

10 Methods How to Paint Laminate Shelves

1. Gather the Supplies

Painting laminate shelves requires a few basic supplies, such as sandpaper, primer, paint, and a brush or roller. It is important to select the right kind of primer and paint for the job; otherwise, the paint may not adhere properly and could easily chip off. Additionally, make sure to use a high-quality brush or roller to ensure an even finish.

2. Prepare the Surface

Before beginning to paint, it is important to prepare the surface of the shelves by cleaning them with soap and water. Then use sandpaper to lightly sand down any rough patches on the surface of the shelves. Doing this will help create a smooth surface for painting and will also help ensure that the paint adheres properly.

3. Apply Primer

Once the shelves have been cleaned and sanded, it is time to apply primer. Primer helps create a good base for painting and can also help prevent chipping or peeling of the new paint job. Make sure to spread an even layer of primer over all surfaces of the shelves using either a brush or roller. Allow sufficient time for it to dry before continuing with additional steps.

Primer Helps Create a Good Base for Painting

4. Paint

Once the primer has dried completely, it is time to begin painting! Select your desired color of paint and spread an even layer over all surfaces of the shelf using either a brush or roller. Allow sufficient time for each coat of paint to dry before applying additional coats until you have achieved your desired level of coverage and color intensity.

5. Add Finishing Touches

Once you have finished painting your laminate shelves, add some finishing touches such as stenciling or decals if desired! Stenciling allows you to add unique designs onto your shelves while decals are great for adding simple patterns or images without having to do any intricate work yourself! Once you have added any additional decorations, allow sufficient time for everything to dry before moving on with other projects in your home!

6. Allow Shelves To Dry Completely

After applying both primer and paint, it is important that you allow your shelves plenty of time to dry completely before attempting any further projects with them! If they are not given enough time to cure properly then they could easily chip or peel off when exposed to moisture or heat in their environment! So be patient and give them at least 24 hours before attempting anything else! 

7. Seal The Shelves

Once your shelves have dried completely you should seal them with a clear sealant spray in order to protect them from wear and tear over time as well as protect against moisture damage in areas where this may be an issue like bathrooms or kitchens! This step is especially important if you plan on placing items directly onto your freshly painted laminate shelving units! 

8. Remove Tape Carefully

If you used painter’s tape during any part of this project then be sure that once everything has dried completely you carefully remove it without ripping off any bits of newly painted surface along with it! This can be done by slowly pulling up one corner at a time until it comes off cleanly without taking any extra bits along with it! 

Remove It Without Ripping Off Any Bits

9. Clean Up Messes Immediately

As always when working on home improvement projects it is best practice if possible clean up messes immediately after they occur instead of waiting until later when things might get stuck in place due to their drying process! This can help save lots of extra work later on when trying to remove these kinds of things by hand instead! 

10. Enjoy Your New Look Laminate Shelves! 

Last but not least, once all steps are completed it’s now time to enjoy the beautiful new look laminate shelving units that were created! Whether it is being placed in the living room, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, etc these pieces now offer stylish functional storage space wherever needed most around the house!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Painting Laminate Shelves

When it comes to painting laminate shelves, there are a few common mistakes that many people make. These mistakes can lead to a less-than-desirable end result and may even cause damage to your shelves. To ensure that your project goes smoothly, here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid when painting laminate shelves:

1. Skipping the prep work

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when painting laminate shelves is skipping the necessary prep work. Laminate is a smooth, non-porous surface which can make it difficult for paint to adhere to. To ensure that your paint job lasts and looks great, take the time to properly prepare your shelves before painting.

2. Using the wrong type of paint

Another common mistake is using the wrong type of paint for laminate surfaces. Latex or acrylic paints will not adhere well to laminate and can easily peel or chip off. Instead, opt for a primer specifically designed for laminate surfaces and then use a high-quality enamel or oil-based paint for the best results.

Use a High-quality Enamel or Oil-based Paint

3. Not allowing enough drying time

With any painting project, it’s important to allow sufficient drying time between coats and before using the shelves. This is especially true for laminate surfaces, as they can be more prone to chipping or peeling if not given enough time to dry.


In conclusion, painting your laminate shelves can be an easy and cost-friendly way to upgrade the look of any room. Knowing what type of paint to use, how to properly prepare the area, and how to apply the top coat can make all the difference in achieving a beautiful result. With these tips and tricks, you should have no problem mastering the art of painting laminate shelves.

Now that you know how to paint laminate shelves, don’t hesitate to get started on your next project! Invite friends and family over for a DIY party or take on this task yourself solo – whatever makes you feel most creative and productive! Good luck and 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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