How to Paint Formica Furniture

Here's an idea as practical as it is thrifty...Give free rein to your imagination, renew your decoration and paint your old Formica furniture. It'll look like new!
How to Paint Formica Furniture

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Formica furniture is a great way to decorate your home. Although current decorating trends point to other materials, such as melamine, we can still find certain furnishings in many homes, especially in the kitchen. Therefore, if you want to hide the wear and tear of time or adapt to the new, the best option is to paint Formica furniture.

Some common examples of this material are cupboards, shelves, cabinets, countertops, and desks. This type of furniture, with a shiny, smooth, and resistant surface, is made with a sheet of pressed sawdust or synthetic plastic adhered to the wood.

You can renovate your furniture with a bit of paint, but the reality is that you don’t need to be an expert to get a great finish. Best of all, this will save you money, as you’ll spend less than replacing them.

Ready to learn how?

How to paint Formica furniture

Let’s take a look at what materials you need to start and the steps to follow to get a perfect finish.

Materials before you start

Once you decide to modernize the style of your furniture, you must gather all the products required. Always look for the best quality so that the result is as expected. Take note and get the following:

  • Acrylic or spray paint in the color of your choice (we recommend that it match the decoration of the space)
  • Wood sealer, also known as primer
  • Painter’s masking tape
  • Paintbrush
  • Small roller
  • Sandpaper number 80 or 100 and another 360
  • Soap and water
  • Alcohol or kitchen cleaner
  • Cloths
  • Wire sponge

1. Clean the surface

To start with the task you must clean the furniture very well, both inside and outside. Soak a clean cloth in soapy water, wipe all over and rinse.

If it’s an old piece of furniture, a good alternative is to mix ammonia with water, following the same process. While if it has a lot of dirt or grease, a scouring pad with alcohol or kitchen cleaner will be very useful to remove impurities.

Cleaning product
You can use alcohol or ammonia for the initial cleaning of surfaces. This step is important before painting.

Keep reading: Tips on How to Paint Wooden Furniture

2. Remove accessories

It’s important to remove the handles, grips, and any other accessories before painting Formica furniture so as not to stain them.

Take this opportunity to replace them with other modern or more functional ones, depending on the type of furniture. The idea is to achieve a totally different style.

3. Sand the furniture

Without too much strength, sand the surface of the furniture until you completely remove the enamel. How do you know when to stop? It’s very simple: you’ll notice that the shine is gone.

Be careful not to apply too much force, as you could damage the surface. When you finish, wipe with a damp cloth to remove the dust resulting from sanding.

4. Apply the sealer base

If the paint you bought doesn’t contain sealer, apply the primer for wood with a roller, let it dry and then give it a few seconds. You can buy spray primer paints, which are much faster to work with.

In any of its presentations, this product seals the pores. This way, the paint will fix much better, without wasting any product.

However, some people are satisfied with the matte white provided by this product and do without the colored paint. Others, on the other hand, combine the base coat with a paint color toner to obtain pastel colors. But the vast majority prefer traditional paints.

5. Let’s paint the Formica furniture!

First, cover the edges of your furniture with painter’s tape so you don’t go over the areas you don’t want to paint. Look for designs that you like, combining various colors and shapes.

Use a roller if you have liquid paint (be precise with the amount you use). As for the corners, you need a brush. You can use it for the whole space, but you risk leaving brushstroke marks.

On the other hand, if you have spray paint, you’ll have less work to do. Just whisk it well and spray it on the furniture.

Regardless of the format, we suggest you apply several coats, giving them each enough time to dry. Sand with 360 grit paper after each coat.

Also, the way you paint is key. Although it isn’t wood, Formica stains in the direction of the grain (the natural markings of the wood) and a smooth and even manner.

Keep reading: 8 Crafts to Decorate a Children’s Party

6. Coat with polyurethane varnish

To achieve a glossy or satin finish, apply a final coat of polyurethane varnish or, if it’s a piece of furniture in constant use, apply two coats. This chemical has no color, so it won’t alter the tone of your paint.

Rather, because of its density, it’s very useful to protect the material and give it an impeccable appearance. As the last step, peel off the tape.

Tips for painting Formica furniture

You already know the step-by-step. Now it’s time to give you some tips that will be very useful when you are ready to paint.

Choose a good space

An excellent trick is to place the furniture in an open space, such as the patio so that you don’t end up with paint on other objects. If not, you can also cover things with plastic.

Also, don’t forget to place newspaper or a plastic base under and around the painting area so you don’t stain the floor, walls, or any items.

cleaning a table
Protecting other objects and being careful with the edges make the task more effective. Take your time in preparing and cleaning surfaces.

Fix imperfections

If the furniture has visible cracks, fill the surface with special wood filler using a spatula, just as if you were repairing a wall. Wait for it to dry and sand.

You can use this material to make the holes of the handles disappear, in case you don’t want to use them anymore or you buy others with different entrances. You must do this procedure before placing the sealing base.

Clean the right way

After painting Formica furniture, keep it clean. It’s very easy: use a cotton cloth dampened with your favorite cleaner (detergent, acetone, or lemon, for example).

Wipe all areas, rinse with hot water and dry thoroughly. You can complement it with a little glass cleaner, opportune to prevent or disappear the traces of drying.

After painting Formica furniture, take care of it!

To extend the life of your furniture and ensure that it remains in good condition, remember not to leave very hot pans or cut food directly on its surface if it’s a kitchen countertop. Always place a protective base to preserve the material. Likewise, avoid banging it or placing heavy objects on it.

Finally, you have in your hands the durability of your furniture and also its appearance. No more excuses! This is the perfect time to take advantage of what you have and turn it into what you dream of. Paint Formica furniture to renew the decoration of your home!


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Plazaola E, Flores M, Reyes E, Castañeda K. Mobius. Muebles reciclados. Paraguay: Universidad Americana; 2015.
  • Schweigger E. Manual de pinturas y recubrimientos plásticos. 1. ° edición. España: Ediciones Díaz de Santos; 2005.
  • Santos N. Aplicación de productos de limpieza de mobiliario. Edición 2019. Logroño: Editorial Tutor Formación; 2019.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.