Giving New Life to Old Nightstands

7 Jun

Yes, you can paint laminate furniture! That’s the moral of the story today.

You might remember the following photo from my blog earlier this week that covered how I redecorated our guest bedroom for minimal cost. I moved the large dresser and matching side table to another bedroom and wanted a pair of matching nightstands for this bedroom, instead. Little did I know how difficult it is to find two matching nightstands, secondhand, of course. I wanted something I could refinish.


After scouring, I finally ran across these lovelies (Sorry for the terrible picture – this is actually what was posted in the ad. And there are two of them. And it’s the only true “before” picture that I have.):


I thought they had an interesting shape, and I liked how they were open with just the one shallow drawer. The ad said they were solid wood, and that was good enough for me because I was planning to sand them down and restain them. I bought them for $30 for the set.

Then I brought them home and started sanding them down a bit. I quickly realized that while they LOOKED like solid wood, the tops were laminate. Boo.

New plan? White paint. I was a tad concerned about that laminate top, though, because I didn’t want it to chip or peel off. Soooo…like I tend to do, I researched, and researched some more. All sorts of other blogs told me that I could paint laminate, so I went full speed ahead.

First, I sanded down the top with my electric sander and a nice, rough, 80 grit sandpaper.

Next, I removed the knobs because I wanted to replace them with wide, brushed nickel handles to better fit the shape of the drawer. I filled the knob holes with wood putty and planned to drill new holes. The drawers look lighter here because I sanded them down after filling the holes to get a smooth finish.


Then I got the best, stickiest primer I could find:


Let’s call it the stinkiest primer too. That oil-based stuff is potent! I put two coats on both nightstands for good measure (the nice part about oil-based primer is that you can recoat in about an hour), then followed up with two coats of off-the-shelf white latex paint.

And here’s a lesson learned the hard way – for flat surfaces that you want to paint smoothly, use a small sponge roller instead of a paintbrush. I brushed on my first coat of paint, then realized I could see the brush strokes. So, I rolled on the next coat and that helped a ton.

Back to that laminate top. I was still a little nervous about scratches and chips, so I pulled out my favorite top coat (Minwax water-based polycrylic in semi-gloss) and threw on a couple of coats just on the top.


Voila! Done – and no chips yet. Honestly, the tops seem like Fort Knox to me so far. That polycrylic really did the trick. DSC_0442


Here’s a reminder of the “before” so you don’t have to scroll to the top.


So go ahead – don’t be scared. Paint that laminate. Anyone have any laminate pieces that they’ve painted? How have they held up? I’d love to hear your comments below. Thanks for reading!


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