Can You Paint IKEA Furniture? The Ultimate Guide to a Successful Transformation

Bob Thomas


If you've ever purchased IKEA furniture, you know that it often comes with an affordable price tag and modern design.

But after some time, you might be looking for a change.

The good news is that you can give your IKEA furniture a whole new life by painting it. 

In this comprehensive guide, I'll share my personal experiences and tips on how to transform your IKEA furniture with paint.

Quick Summary

To successfully paint IKEA furniture, follow these steps:

  1. Gather your materials
  2. Disassemble your furniture (if possible)
  3. Clean and sand the surfaces
  4. Apply a primer
  5. Paint your IKEA furniture
  6. Protect your masterpiece with a sealant
  7. Reassemble your furniture

Gather Your Materials

Before you start, gather all the necessary tools and materials.

Here's a list of what you'll need:



For disassembling your furniture (if possible)

Cleaning cloth & mild cleaner

For cleaning the furniture's surface before painting

Sandpaper (120-grit & 220-grit)

For prepping the surface by sanding it lightly

Primer (oil-based, shellac, or bonding)

For creating a strong base for the paint to adhere to

Paint (latex, chalk, or furniture paint)

For giving your IKEA furniture a new look and color

Clear sealant (polyurethane, polycrylic, or wax)

For protecting the painted surface and providing a finished look

Paintbrushes, rollers, or paint sprayer

For applying the paint and sealant to your furniture

Drop cloth or plastic sheeting

For protecting your work area from paint spills and drips

Disassemble Your Furniture (If Possible)

If you can disassemble your IKEA furniture, this will make the painting process easier.

Remove any hardware, such as handles, knobs, or hinges, and store them safely until you're ready to reassemble.

Clean and Sand the Surfaces

Before painting, ensure that your IKEA furniture is clean and free of dust or grime.

Use a mild cleaner and a damp cloth to wipe down all surfaces. After cleaning, it's time to sand the surfaces.

IKEA furniture is often made of laminate or veneer, which can be tricky to paint.

To ensure proper adhesion, sand the surfaces with 120-grit sandpaper followed by 220-grit sandpaper.

This will create a slightly rough texture, allowing the primer and paint to stick better.

Apply a Primer

A primer is essential for a successful paint job on IKEA furniture.

Choose an oil-based, shellac, or bonding primer, as these types are more effective on laminate or veneer surfaces.

Apply a thin, even coat of primer to all surfaces, and allow it to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

The primer will create a strong bond between the paint and the furniture surface.

Paint Your IKEA Furniture

Choosing the Right Paint

Now that your furniture is prepped, it's time to choose the best paint for your project. Latex, chalk, and furniture paints are all suitable for painting IKEA furniture, each offering unique advantages:

  1. Latex paint: A water-based paint that is easy to clean up and comes in a wide range of colors and finishes. It dries quickly and has low odor, making it a popular choice for DIY projects.
  2. Chalk paint: A thick, matte paint that requires little to no prep work and adheres well to various surf
  3. aces. Chalk paint can be easily distressed for a vintage look and can be sealed with wax for added durability.
  4. Furniture paint: Specially formulated for use on furniture, this type of paint is designed to withstand wear and tear. It is available in various sheens and typically has a self-leveling feature, which helps to minimize brush strokes.

Selecting the Perfect Color

When choosing a color for your IKEA furniture, consider the overall aesthetic of the room where it will be placed.

Take into account the existing color scheme, as well as any future design changes you may have planned.

You may want to choose a bold, contrasting color for a statement piece, or opt for a more subtle hue that complements your existing decor.

Application Techniques

To achieve a professional-looking finish, consider using one of the following application techniques:

  1. Brushing: Using a high-quality paintbrush, apply thin, even coats of paint in the direction of the wood grain. This method may require more coats for full coverage but offers more control over the final appearance.
  2. Rolling: A foam roller can provide a smooth, even finish with fewer visible brush strokes. Be sure to use a roller with a low nap (3/16 inch) to minimize texture.
  3. Spraying: A paint sprayer can deliver a flawless finish, especially on intricate or detailed pieces. If using a paint sprayer, be sure to thin your paint according to the manufacturer's instructions and work in a well-ventilated area.

Applying the Paint

Once you have selected your paint type, color, and application method, it's time to start painting.

Apply thin, even coats, allowing each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next one.

This may require some patience, but the result will be a more durable and professional-looking finish.

Depending on the paint and the color you've chosen, you may need two or three coats to achieve full coverage.

Lightly sanding between coats with a fine-grit sandpaper (220-grit or higher) can help to ensure a smooth finish.

Adding Decorative Effects

For a unique and personalized touch, consider adding decorative effects to your painted IKEA furniture:

  1. Distressing: Use sandpaper or a sanding block to lightly distress the edges and corners of your piece after the paint has dried. This creates a worn, vintage look that adds character to your furniture.
  2. Stenciling: Add patterns or designs to your furniture using stencils and a contrasting paint color. This can be an easy way to add visual interest and make your piece truly one-of-a-kind.
  3. Glazing: Applying a tinted glaze over your painted furniture can add depth and dimension, as well as an antique or aged appearance.

By expanding your knowledge of paint types, colors, and application techniques, you can achieve a stunning transformation that will leave your IKEA furniture looking like a custom piece.

Don't be afraid to experiment and let your creativity shine!

Protect Your Masterpiece with a Sealant

Once your paint has dried, it's essential to protect your newly painted IKEA furniture with a clear sealant.

Polyurethane, polycrylic, and wax are all good choices, depending on the type of paint you used.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for application and drying times.

Reassemble Your Furniture

Once your paint and sealant have dried, it's time to reassemble your furniture.

Replace any hardware you removed earlier and admire your transformed IKEA furniture.

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. Can I use spray paint on IKEA furniture?

  A: Yes, spray paint can be used on IKEA furniture for a smooth, even finish.

Be sure to use a primer specifically designed for laminate surfaces before applying spray paint.

Work in a well-ventilated area and follow the manufacturer's instructions for best results.

Q. How can I protect my painted IKEA furniture from scratches and wear?

  A: Applying a clear topcoat, such as a water-based polyurethane, can help protect your painted furniture from scratches and everyday wear.

Be sure to choose a topcoat with a finish that complements the paint you've used, whether it be matte, satin, or glossy.

Q. Can I paint IKEA furniture with a high-gloss finish?

  A: Yes, you can achieve a high-gloss finish on your IKEA furniture by using high-gloss paint or by applying a high-gloss topcoat over your chosen paint color.

Keep in mind that glossy finishes tend to show imperfections more easily, so it's essential to properly prep and sand the surface before painting.

Q. Do I need to seal my painted IKEA furniture?

  A: Sealing your painted IKEA furniture is not always necessary but can provide added protection and durability.

If you've used chalk paint, it's recommended to apply a wax or clear topcoat to seal and protect the finish.

For other paint types, a water-based polyurethane can be used as a protective topcoat if desired.

Q. How long should I wait before using my painted IKEA furniture?

  A: It's important to allow your painted IKEA furniture to dry completely before using it.

Most paints require at least 24 hours to dry, but it's best to consult the paint manufacturer's instructions for specific drying times.

Additionally, some topcoats may require up to a week to fully cure and harden, so it's essential to be patient and give your furniture ample time to dry before putting it to use.

Q. Can I paint IKEA furniture that has a glass or metal component?

  A: Yes, you can paint the non-laminate components of IKEA furniture, such as glass or metal, using paints specifically designed for those surfaces.

Be sure to prep the surface properly, according to the paint manufacturer's instructions, and apply the appropriate primer if necessary.


In conclusion, painting IKEA furniture is a fantastic way to breathe new life into your pieces and customize them to fit your personal style.

By following these steps and using the right materials, you can create a successful transformation that will leave you feeling proud and accomplished. 

Suggested Products:

  1. Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Based Primer: This primer is excellent for laminate surfaces, such as IKEA furniture, due to its strong adhesion properties. It ensures a smooth, even base for your paint, making it easier to achieve a professional finish.
  2. Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch Multi-Purpose Paint: This latex paint is suitable for painting IKEA furniture and offers excellent coverage and durability. It is available in various colors and finishes, allowing you to customize your furniture to match your desired aesthetic.
  3. Annie Sloan Chalk Paint: Chalk paint is known for its ease of application and ability to adhere to various surfaces, including IKEA furniture. This high-quality paint provides a matte finish that can be easily distressed for a vintage look or sealed with wax for added protection.
  4. General Finishes Milk Paint: This furniture paint is perfect for achieving a smooth, professional finish on your IKEA furniture. It offers excellent durability and is available in a range of colors to suit your desired look.
  5. Krylon Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint: This spray paint is specifically designed for use on laminate surfaces like IKEA furniture. It offers excellent adhesion and a smooth finish, making it an excellent choice for a quick and easy furniture makeover.
  6. Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish: This water-based polyurethane topcoat is ideal for sealing and protecting your painted IKEA furniture. It is available in various finishes, including matte, satin, and glossy, to complement your chosen paint color.
  7. ScotchBlue Painter's Tape: To ensure clean lines and protect areas you don't want to paint, use painter's tape specifically designed for delicate surfaces. This will help you achieve a professional-looking finish on your IKEA furniture.
  8. Wooster Brush Softip Paintbrush: This high-quality paintbrush is perfect for applying thin, even coats of paint to your IKEA furniture. Its soft bristles ensure a smooth application and help you achieve a flawless finish.
  9. Rust-Oleum Clear Coat High Gloss: If you're aiming for a high-gloss finish on your IKEA furniture, this clear topcoat is an excellent choice. It provides a durable, glossy finish that enhances your paint color and protects your furniture from scratches and wear.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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