How to Paint Ikea Furniture Including Expedit, Kallax, Lack and Malm

Before and After of Painted Ikea Tarva Chest

Painting Ikea furniture can transform a generic mass-produced product into a personalised item unique to you. A lot of people are keen to customise their Ikea furniture for this reason but many find themselves put off by horror stories of people trying to paint their Ikea furniture and it all peeling off a few days later. It even leaves some wondering ‘can you paint Ikea furniture?’ This guide will explain how to paint your Ikea furniture so that it doesn’t chip and instead becomes a fresh piece of unique furniture with a new lease of life.

Painted Ikea Malm Drawers in a Nursery

Assembled or Disassembled?

Opinions differ as to whether you should paint Ikea furniture while it is assembled or when it is in pieces. Both ways have pros and cons but generally if you’re prepared to put the extra time in for a slightly better finish then you should take your furniture apart and paint the panels separately.

Painting assembled Ikea furniture obviously has the advantage of not having to take apart and put back together your furniture, which can be a time consuming process that could also damage the components if care isn’t taken. It also means that you’ll only be painting the parts of the furniture that will be visible saving you time and paint. The panels are mostly suspended in midair so you can paint both sides at the same time without having to wait for one side to dry before you can flip it, rest it on the ground and paint the other side (which typically causes the painting process to take twice as long).

Priming Ikea Malm Chest of Drawers Furniture for Painting

The obvious downside of painting assembled Ikea furniture is that it can be very awkward to get into all the corners and this can end up giving you an uneven paint finish with brush strokes not all going in the same direction. There’s also the risk of accidentally painting parts of the furniture you didn’t intend to such as handles or if you were trying to paint different panels in different colours.

For these reasons it can be worth taking the Ikea furniture apart and laying the panels out flat to get a smoother finish, but be prepared for far longer drying times. There is also the risk of chipping the paint when it comes to re-assembling the finished piece of furniture if you don’t give the paint enough time to cure fully. Ikea furniture is essentially designed to be disposable and was only really intended to be put together once. As a result taking it apart and reassembling can weaken the integrity of the chipboard, particularly around the screws where over-tightening can cause them to lose grip. We gave some tips in a previous article on moving Ikea furniture which can help you safely disassemble and reassemble it without damaging the furniture.


Preparation and Primers

This guide focuses on painting the cheaper, basic Ikea furniture ranges such as Expedit (Kallax), Lack and Malm. These are all composed of laminated veneer chipboard which is notoriously difficult to work with as paint doesn’t adhere well to the smooth, non-porous melamine surfaces. Preparation is key to any sort of painting and doubly so when it comes to painting Ikea furniture. If you want a smooth finish that won’t chip away, it’s absolutely vital that you key and prime your surfaces prior to applying primer.

If your furniture has a smooth, satiny feel such as the basic white Expedit shelves (soon to be Kallax) or particularly the glossy finishes found on the new Ikea Malm ranges, then it is vitally important that you give the surfaces a light sand to create what is known as a key. P120 grade sandpaper is ideal for this and rubbing it at random in broad curves over the laminate roughens up the surface and gives the paint and primer we’re about to apply something to grab onto.

Zinsser BIN Shellac-Base Primer for Painting Ikea Furniture

Priming is the second vital preparation step and is essential if you don’t want your paint to chip. Primer is a remarkable substance which is intended to stick to any surface, and in turn allow any paint to stick to it. It provides a bridge between furniture surface and paint and ensures good all round adhesion. The best primer to paint Ikea furniture with is undoubtedly Zinsser BIN Shellac-Based Primer which is specially designed for laminate surfaces.

Most primers form a white surface which is great if you’re painting over in a light colour but can require multiple coats of darker coloured paints to get an even finish. It is possible to tint your primer to make it a slightly grey shade which goes a surprisingly long way to make your desired colour easier to achieve with darker paints. I recommend applying primer with a simple mini-roller instead of paintbrushes which can leave brush marks,  nor paint spray guns which aren’t optimised for primer and tend to leave a dusty finish. After you’ve primed your Ikea furniture panels and it has fully dried, be sure to give them a super-light going over with some medium-high grade sandpaper to remove any bumps (but be sure not to sand away too much of the primer!)



Painting Ikea Furniture (finally!)

Once you’ve keyed and primed, it’s finally time to paint Ikea furniture – hooray! If you’ve decided to skip these preparation stages, let me just warn you that you’re making a big mistake and will soon regret it. Seriously.

The colour of the paint is of course up to you but I’d recommend going with gloss or eggshell over standard emulsion for a much tougher finish. Be sure to read the tin to ensure the paint you’ve chosen is compatible with the primer and follow the instructions with regards to drying and re-coat times down to the letter.

Most people recommend using a paint spray gun (which have become more affordable in recent years) for the most even and professional looking finish, but if you don’t have one to hand then a foam mini-roller should suffice. Note that a mini-roller might require a few extra coats to get rid of the unsightly marks and lines they can leave. Generally I’d say to avoid paint brushes at all costs, particularly cheap ones, as you’ll end up applying countless coats of paint to get an even finish (it’s a false economy). Be sure to follow the recommended instructions for drying times between coats of paint or the earlier coats will never fully dry and will eventually come off.

Once you’re satisfied with the finish you’ve achieved, you need to allow the paint to dry fully which is known as curing. This takes far far longer than you might expect and if you’re not living in a warm climate, could take weeks or even months. If you don’t allow your Ikea furniture enough time to cure, you’ll soon know about it. The paint will chip off with the slightest knock and this is particularly noticeable for tables in which the paint will come off on anything you happen to put down on them such as cups. Follow the instructions on the paint tin about drying times in relation to temperature and humidity, and remember it’s best to err on the side of caution if you don’t want all your work to have been in vain.


Polycrylic Topcoat Sealing (optional)

Once you’ve waited for the paint to cure over the course of a few days and are happy with the finish you’ve achieved on your Ikea furniture, it could be a good idea to add a topcoat of sealer, particularly if you haven’t used an eggshell paint. There are a number of different types of poly- sealant, with both oil-based polyurethane and water-based polycrylic varieties. Polyurethane sealants are perhaps better known, but as they are nearly always oil-based they tend to yellow over time. Whereas Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish is water based and so isn’t prone to this yellowing issue, plus it’s also much easier to apply and cleanup.

A coat of transparent satin polycrylic will barely alter the appearance of your paintwork at all (although do a test patch to double check you’re happy with it on your particular piece), and will ensure an even stronger and longer lasting paint finish on your Ikea furniture. I’d typically go for 2-3 coats of polycrylic sealant, and as always give a light sanding between coats with a very high grade sandpaper (220+). Remember to carefully remove the dust from this sanding with a quick wipe down from a damp cloth before applying the next coat as polycrylic is completely transparent and will really show up these specks.


Finishing Up

Good luck and may your furniture end up looking as good as this painted Ikea Tarva Chest (similar to Rast) by Luisa from ‘Why Don’t You Make Me?‘ who used Behr Coral paint mixed with varying quantities of white to create this progressive piece.

Painted Ikea Tarva Chest in Behr Coral Shades

If you found this guide useful, you might also be interested in other articles Homeli has about DIY projects for Ikea furniture. In the past we’ve looked at ways to customise Ikea Expedit shelves(Kallax), how to make your Ikea furniture look vintage, and some ingenious ways to repurpose your furniture known as ‘Ikeahacking.

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  1. Weisse

    Thank you for the great article and responses to questions.
    I am planning on painting MALM dresser drawers to white. The only dilemma I have is, while reading many articles and reviews of water based polyurethane’s sold in stores that, they will yellow over a time (especially when exposed to a sun), but not as bad as the oil-based polyurethane.
    Is there ANY protective coat on the market, except the CLC Centrusion, Violak, Renner, Lacy, or Circa ICA that a non-professional could use to make sure the white paint will stay white without any yellowing?
    I am not afraid of those professional coats, but I am not ready to spend hundredths of $ to buy a spray gun… just to cover six drawer fronts.

  2. Bob

    I have a question. Is the recommended primer an oil based product ? If so shouln’t the top coats be oil based as well.?

    1. John

      Zinsser is shellac/solvent based. It can be topcoated with oil or water-based paints after 45 minutes in ideal conditions.

  3. Barbara Jones

    I have painted kallax storage unit grey to match the grey kallax I bought but what colour do I use for the outside edges to match?

  4. Alie

    I just bought an IkEA Liatorp console table which is just what I wanted style-wise except for the white color. Is there any way I can follow your instruction ‘but’ get it to match the rest of the stained furniture already existing in my living room ???

  5. Helen

    Thank you, this is a great help. I’d also like to add a bit of shine to an existing matt Ikea Veddinge door (not painted by me, just as it comes) to make it look more silvery, could I just add a mid sheen varnish layer or would I need to prep somehow? Thank you in advance for any help you can give.

  6. Julie

    So..I have Ickes wardrobe. The doors have wood border down the sides of door with off white doors. I want to white gloss them. So light sanding down,good primer,light sanding down, dry then gloss with sponge roller ..right?? If it goes wrong I will have to get new doors..or leave home coz hubby will kill me lol thankyou for you’re advice on this

  7. Holly

    I have a White Malm Single Bed from Ikea, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to paint it white (it’s black) will it be hard? It probably will be harder to paint than a black dresser but I really want to! I’m not sure if I will consider getting a new one knowing that there might be a possibility of painting it over. Has anyone managed to paint their bed black to white? Does anyone know if it’s possible?

  8. Claire

    This is so helpful – thank you! I would like to turn an Ikea laminate mirror frame into a copper colour. If I follow all the above advice (sanding & primer) can I use Rust-Oleum copper metallic spray paint? Quite difficult to find a metallic paint as good as Rust-Oleum. Thanks again

    1. Avatar photo Author

      Hi Claire, I haven’t tried it myself but it should work if you prime it correctly, but make sure you give it plenty of time to cure and are careful when hanging the mirror afterwards. I’ve used Rustoleum spray paint on my radiators and if you so much as touched them within the first few days it’d scratch off, but after a month or so it became much stronger

  9. Tiffany

    Is it okay if I use synthetic shellac of the Zinger bin advanced primer. Or should I get the exact one posted above. The only difference is mine is synthetic shellac.

  10. Michelle

    Is eggshell paint different in the UK than North America? I saw you reference in some comments where people asked if they could use regular wall paint, and you recommended eggshell. Eggshell is fairly standard for “wall paint” here, so wondering if there is a more specific finish/paint type I should be looking for? Thanks for any tips you can provide.

    1. Avatar photo Author

      Perhaps there is a bit of a difference in terms across the pond. We do have eggshell wall paint here but when someone just says eggshell here they’re usually refers to an oil based paint for woodwork as far as I’m aware.

  11. RD

    Can you please advise on where to dry the items – I cannot imagine letting to dry this outdoors due to British weather! I am worried about stinking the whole house if I let this to dry indoors. Do you think it is ok to let it dry in the shed? While the paint is still wet, is there a risk or letting particles stick to the paint?

  12. Moya


    Thank you for this. I am wanting to paint an aneboda wardrobe its light wood coloured and wanting to paint it white would the above steps work for this ?

    Please help.

    Thank you Moya :)

  13. Sami

    What steps should I follow if the furniture is not laminated please e.g. Sundvik wardrobe. Do I still need to sand and prime? Many thanks in advance. Regards

  14. Cassie

    Wonderful advice! I’m trying to figure out what I need to do for an ikea bed I bought on craigslist (Gulliver Toddler Bed). It was not painted to begin with (though I’m guessing some kind of sealant) and then the person I bought it from painted it purple. I love the color, thats why I bought it, but I’m finding that as time goes on it keeps chipping and wearing. I don’t really want to strip it all down and repaint it, so any suggestions what I could do for it? She gave me a little paint for touch up, but not much. If I did repaint it, would I need to totally strip it, or just sand on the paint thats already there and use a primer on top of that? I’ve never really painted furniture before. I also have some Sherwin Williams Emerald® Interior Acrylic Latex Paint that I could use, but I’m not sure if that’s just for walls or if it would work. The color would be just a little darker purple then what I already have, so visually I think it might work.

    I really like this piece, but I worry about the paint chips with my toddler….

  15. shlendie

    HI, I was wondering if IKEA furniture coated with reinforced polypropylene could also be refinished? IKEA has a round extendable table but it only comes in black or white :(. In the product desctiption its says that the table top is made of: Particleboard, Beech veneer, Reinforced polypropylene, Stain, Clear acrylic lacquer. Is there anyway I can refinish this to look more natural wood or at least a more espresso colour to match the kitchen?

    Thank you!

  16. Kat

    Hi Homeli,

    Thank you so much for your article, really useful information.

    I’m struggling to get any zinsser primer. Could you give some specifics of what type of primer I would be best to find. E.g. oil or water based.

    Many thanks

  17. Horst Mall

    Hi Homeli,
    I have read your wonderful post with great interest, however, I’m interested in Billy shelves.
    I’m thinking of turning a couple of boring Billies (Birch finish) into a – hopefully – great looking built-in shelf using Farrow & Ball colors. Do you think the process you have described will work here, too?
    Or should I just hang curtains and forget about the whole thing?



    1. Avatar photo Author

      Hi Horst, this should work just fine. Painting IKEA furniture successfully is mainly about the preparation and primer and not the final paint. Good luck with your Billy shelves.

  18. Elise

    I do not know why people create a 5 page article for something so simple that can be explained in maybe 6 steps total. Sand surface, apply primer and lightly sand between coats, paint (roller, spray or brush …there are multiple ways of doing things, this is just preference), apply a sealent of choice (test a patch before applying), done! People do not make it more complicated than it needs to be! There are multiple ways of doing things just choose one. And if you don’t like the color just cover it up or sand it away, not a big deal! I think the more you exaggerate unnecessary details (your furniture is not going to fall apart from one dismantle, i know because i’ve taken my cheap piece apart three times already.), the people will second guess themselves and ask a ton of unneccessary questions (as shown in this comment section). Just go the your home improvement store, buy the supplies, and get the job done. You are not the first and you won’t be the last so i’m certain the paint dept has heard your questions thousands of times, and can suggest or help out with any questions.

    1. Avatar photo Author

      I don’t know why people write a 199 word comment that could be written in 4 letters. The fact is some people feel uncertain about projects like this and hence they look up detailed articles. Ikea recommend you don’t disassemble and reassemble their furniture so I’m sure some people would want to know if it can be done without having to ruin a piece of furniture first. You might be willing to dive in, mess up and sand back as you said, but some people might decide not to try it all if they don’t feel confident. This article written by one person in an hour or two has been viewed almost 300,000 times, has given people the confidence to try it, and has no doubt saved a lot of paint dept employees a lot of questions and time. Ikea chipboard and melamine furniture isn’t designed to be painted, its not as simple as slapping on some emulsion and hoping it sticks. Not quite sure why you decided to come here yourself if its as simple as you say.

  19. liz

    Hi Sweety
    I read ur article with great interest but am abit stuck.
    I also use primer when painting my splid wood doors. And you can tell the difference primer makes :-)
    I bought the Lack sideboard and Hemnes Day bed a year ago and want to paint them as they have yellowed in colour from White.
    The cabinet and day bed r used regularly couldn’t wait for a week or two to finish the painting job :/
    Any tips u could offer I don’t have the space to dismantle them both and paint individually or drying space :( What should I do? These r used in the kids room where they play chill do homework etc its a busy room with 4 kids 3 whom have Autism aged 12,10,8&6 yrs old :-)
    I’ve got lots of gloss paint with satin finish ceft over from when I was doing the doors could I use that or spray paint after primer and would I need a sealer on top??
    Is undercoat same as primer?? Kindest Regards Liz very busy mummy lol

  20. Nakita


    Great post, thank you for sharing. Question; I purchased two side tables from Ikea. The Nornas collection- the key features says the product is untreated solid pine that can be painted. My question should I follow these exact steps? Please advise..

    Thank you so much!

    1. Avatar photo Author

      If its unfinished pine then the instructions here will work, but you can just paint it like you would any wood furniture, so the Zinsser Bin primer isn’t strictly necessary and just about any undercoat primer for wood will work.

  21. Shruti Bhatia

    What a fantastic tutorial!!
    I recently bought a Besta tv unit in oak finish, it doesn’t go well with my rustic oak coffee table and other living room furniture. The Besta is of light oak color and the rustic oak gives a honey tinge. Will you please help me understand if I can oil/lacquer the Besta tv unit and get the similar color that of rustic oak.

    Thank you.

    1. Avatar photo Author

      Hi Shruti, unfortunately I don’t think this will be possible. Painting IKEA furniture is very different to staining, and if the oak finish on Besta is only a laminate image of oak wood (and not a real oak veneer) then a stain just won’t be penetrating the wood. You’re only option would be to sand and refinish the real oak furniture to match the IKEA oak effect, or to paint the IKEA furniture a different colour completely so it doesn’t look like they almost match

      1. Shruti Bhatia

        Thank you so much for your reply Homeli. We have decided to change the furniture as it was pretty new and get some better matching one. Thanks again :)

  22. Michael

    Does the aerosol primer work also ?
    I’ve found sources of it in Australia, but it’s very expensive – coupled with paint and sealant, may end up costing more than the furniture I want to paint !

    The aerosol primer, however, is much cheaper, and can be had in 396g capacity. May be enough to do a hall table.

    1. Michael

      Also… what’s the difference between that Stain Blocker and Stain Killer ?
      I can only seem to find the Stain Killer …

  23. Saba

    Hi! I’m in the process of painting my Nordli bed side table

    Which seal do you recommend as the link on this page takes me to several seals and I’m not sure which one to get. Also, how do I know that my paint has cured? I’ve left my furniture overnight and it feels dry to me – is this a trick?!


    1. Avatar photo Author

      Hi Saba, the sealant I’d recommend after painting IKEA furniture is Minwax Polycrylic, but a polyurethane topcoat is fine too. Curing is different to being ‘touch dry’, and to be on the safe side I’d say wait at least 48 hours in a reasonable warm room

      1. Saba

        Hi Homeli,

        Thank you so much for your reply! Is this type of sealant sufficient?

        Thanks for the point re “curing”. One of the sides has two layers of paint now, and it’s feeling fairly dry. But I’ll wait until the weekend before doing any sealant. The colour is looking really lush so I hope I’ve done enough prepping etc. Btw, don’t think I said thanks for this helpful guide!


        1. Saba

          And sorry, one last question, should the sealant be applied using a foam roller (as the primer & paint) or using a brush? Or is it personal preference?


  24. David

    Really great walkthrough guide to paint ikea furniture. Has a lot of little tips and tricks which you really just wouldn’t know until you try it for yourself, or at least until someone else has tried it and told you about them. Was advised by friends that painting ikea furniture would be impossible but I’m going to have a go after reading this.

  25. klaudia

    Hello! Great tutorial, loved it! However, got a question about pain, can I use a normal paint for walls or it has to be the one for the wood? thank you

    1. Avatar photo Author

      Hi Klaudia, you’ll want a stronger paint than what you’d use for walls. I prefer eggshell paint for Ikea furniture.

  26. Mike

    Ikea is opening a store close to my store Redposie Boutique furniture in a few a weeks. I teach how to paint furniture. Your information on how to paint Ikea furniture will come in handy for I plan on having workshops on how to paint Ikea pieces.

  27. sarah

    I have just started painting my malm drawers and pax wardrobes. I have used the shellac primer that has been recomended and also eggshell paint… What would you recomend to ‘seal’ the paint?? I do not want a gloss finish. TIA

    1. Charlie

      I think any sort of clear matte sealer should do just fine. Eggshell paint should be quite a strong finish in itself though and might not need it, especially if its Ikea wardrobes instead of something like a table.

  28. Carly

    I have the expedit in the dark brown version but I am wanting to change it to white – to suit my new living room theme! Is it possible to go from such a dark colour to such a light colour? Do you have any advice on doing this?

    1. Avatar photo Author

      Hi Carly, it’s definitely possible. The primer should do a lot to get you back to a neutral colour to work from as it is very opaque. After that just keep layering white.

  29. AL

    I am planning on painting some IKEA BESTA frames. Planning to use these instructions. My only concern is curing time. Most “how long to cure” guides I’ve read say that latex paint should be left to cure for 30 days! Yowsa. That’s an awfully long time to have to wait between layers. I’ve read that oils pants, however, are good after a week. Thoughts?

    1. Charlie

      I’d say just follow what it says on the paint tin, the manufacturer of your specific latex paint probably knows more than other guides. That said, painting ikea furniture might be different curing times. Anyway curing can definitely take long if you have cold conditions but 30 days does seem a bit excessive to me.

  30. diego

    I’m just about done refinishing the sides of a white Malm bed that was damaged in a move. My initial plan was to touch up spots that needed it, but I figured blending would be more trouble than it was worth so I decided to re-do them completely. First, I would take your piece to get the color matched, works very well. Then, for any gouges in the wood pick up some Bondo and Glazing putty. I was able to repair some serious damage using the fiberglass. Can’t even tell where it was hit. Lastly, not sure if its mentioned but in order to get a nice smooth finish, your paint and finish will only look as good as your primer, so sand out that orange peel before painting.

    1. Avatar photo Author

      Some great points, thanks for sharing your filler method Diego.

  31. Christine

    Any advice on how to renovate the surface of furniture that has been damaged and chipped and stained in use?

    1. Avatar photo Author

      Hard to say without knowing the specific piece. Sanding it down could be appropriate but it depends how deep the staining and chips go but

  32. Tianni

    Is sanded necessary? I afraid sanding laminate furniture can damage the laminate and ruin the piece.

    1. Avatar photo Author

      Yes it’s very necessary. Only a light sanding to scratch the surface and make it rough. The whole point is that you damage the laminate because we’re going to be painting over it.

      1. Phil

        I have a Bjursta black-brown ikea table – is it possible to paint this finish? If anyone has ideas of colours / styles it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks Phil

        1. Avatar photo Author

          Hi Phil, as far as I’m aware the Bjursta table has the same finish type as the rest of the Ikea furniture in this guide so the paint instructions should work much the same.

  33. Melinda H

    I have the MALM nightstand and chest of drawers in the brownish black. Would I be able to paint it white using your instructions?

    1. Avatar photo Author

      Hi melinda, yes the instructions listed here cover malm surfaces. Going from dark brown to white might take a few coats depending on the paint you use, but the primer mentioned does give great coverage to get you started

      1. Niusha

        Hi there, I plan to do the exact same thing as Melinda, considering the brownish black has some grooves unlike the white, do I still need to sand it down?

        1. Olivia

          Have any of you succeeded in getting the dark-brown/black malm furniture to a distressed white? I want to do the same thing, and would love to see pictures and get suggestions if you have them!

  34. truongduchuu

    good story of painting ikea furniture. people found it difficult, you have nicely explained it.

  35. Toni

    Hi, sorry if This has been asked already……..Can I tint zinsser shellac primer with an eggshell (dark grey) paint? I’m painting 2 expedit bookcase/units which are a beach color & changing them to dark grey, I have just painted one and found out why tinting would be good for when the finishing color is dark! But don’t want to go and add the dark grey eggshell paint I have, to the zinsser shellac if it’s going to muck up what the shellac does!

  36. Jesse James

    I found this page because I want to paint my Lack side table. I’ve took the Google train to several DIY sites on this same project and this page is by far the most clear and helpful guide! I’m adding this page to my favorites.

    It’s sites like these that inspire me to do my own work around the apartment! Thanks :)

  37. Elsie

    Thanks for your great advice. I’m planning on buying the Hemnes drawers in white stain (not a glossy finish) and painting the drawers.

    Do you think I still need to sand and prime for this project? To me the white stain seems a little more unfinished, so I’m wondering if I can just paint straight on? Thanks!

    1. Avatar photo Author

      I’m not familiar with the white stain Hemnes furniture, but I suppose you could do a test patch of paint to see if it adheres well. However I’d still recommend sanding and priming to be on the safe side.

      The white stain basically saturates the wood’s surface so that further unintentional staining such as coffee can’t penetrate it, but this would also mean that your paint doesn’t have anything to grab onto.

  38. Sebastian

    Thank you for this guide, but I’m wondering if the same process would work for wood stains as opposed to paint. I’m interested in getting a couple of Kallax pieces in “birch effect” and staining them like conventional wood furniture. Would that be possible, or is this guide only for strictly painting?

    1. Avatar photo Author

      Sorry but this guide isn’t suitable for staining, only for painting. As you’re probably aware, the birch effect furniture isn’t real wood, its literally just a picture of birch wood printed on plastic. Staining is all about the liquid penetrating the wood’s grain and it just wouldn’t dry properly, nor give the desired effect on Ikea’s plastic coated chipboard furniture.

      However Ikea do make some great solid wood furniture which is very affordable and I have successfully stained. Its even possible with their veneered wood furniture as long as you’re careful how much you sand.

  39. Erin

    How long is waiting for it to cure? I live in AZ , VERY warm climate….
    I am planning on painting my three expedit cubes, my rast dressers, and a table (i cant remember the name) from IKEA.
    Just wondering if you had a ‘ball park’ for the curing time?

  40. emi

    Hi! Thank you for the wonderful tutotrial! I have finished all of the steps but have the same question as a few others — if it is an item that will be frequently used, should I put a gloss or varnish over the paint so that it doesn’t rub off onto other things or generally rub off of the painted furniture? If so, what gloss or varnish should I use, and how should I apply it? Thank you!!

  41. Cathy

    I have a WHITE Kallax 2×4 and the white came off and there is orange underneath. It’s a strip that’s about 7 inches long and 1 inch thick. The orange is smooth. Is this recover-able? What do I use to paint over the orange and paint it white to go along with the rest of the white Kallax? Thanks!

  42. Miss J

    What a faaaantastic page!!!
    I just brought 3pieces of Malm furniture and I want them upscale them.
    Could you please help me by letting me know, if I want to tint the primer as I would like to paint them black, what’s the best paint to use to tint the primer please.
    Also how dark should I tint the primer to get the furniture ready for the black gloss paint?
    Finally do you recommend that clear varnish is used after all the paint has dried?
    Thaaaank you!!!

  43. Eva Jager

    Thanks for the very helpful article.

    I have some black expedit items and i would like to make them a distressed white. so i am not concerned about possible chipping or small blemishes. after a proper priming, how would you suggest me to proceed?

  44. Jayne Scott

    hi I wanted to paint my malm drawers and bed am I best using a primer? Should I send before primer? Can I then use chalk paint or am I best using eggshell? Thanks jay e

  45. Taren Z

    Hi! Thank you for your helpful guide. I just got 2 Hemnes dressers in white. They’re actually cream. I want them to be a bright white. I’ve never painted anything and I’m terrified. I do have a Critter sprayer. I see that I need the Zissner primer too. Does the primer come in oil or water based? Which one is best for my project? Also I understand I need to so a light sand with 120. After I prime how long do I wait to paint? Do I sand after I prime? Last question… I want it to be the same finish it is now? How do I achieve that? Any tips/steps are much appreciated! Thanks

  46. Debbie

    Great info! I just started to sand the top of the Malm desk with a 120 disc on a rotary sander. I find that surface is still fairly slick after sanding with a 120 pad. I know you say “light” sanding, so maybe I’m on the right track. I just want to make sure that there is only supposed to be a subtle texture before priming. Can you please clarify? Thanks!

    1. Avatar photo Author

      Yes it really is just a light quick sanding and if you find it still fairly slick then I’m afraid you might have sanded it a bit too much. In any case a rotary sander really isn’t necessary for this kind of job and if anything is sanding it too well/evenly. It really does just need a few swipes in an irregular motion to rough up the surface a bit.

      1. Debbie

        Thanks! I think I’m ok. I might go over it again once lightly by hand with a slightly coarser grit and then prime. I’m actually doing two of these desks and will forgo the rotary sander for the next one.

  47. Kat

    Hi, thanks for the great tutorial! I have exactly the same questions as Amy (question 26 of june 2014) did you mean eggshell paint is better than emulsion or did you mean that eggshell needs to be used on top of emulsion? Thanks :)

    1. Avatar photo Author

      Hi, sorry for that ambiguity. I meant to say that I think eggshell is better than emulsion

  48. Natalie

    What a fantastic guide you have here! Perfect for what I’m planning to do with my Malm oak veneer chest of drawers. I want to paint it silver, once I’ve primed and sanded it, would you suggest I spray paint, roller or brush?


    1. Avatar photo Author

      Hi Natalie,
      I wouldn’t recommend spray paint, although a spray gun for real paint is the best option for an even finish. If you don’t have access to one of these then mini-rollers are the next best thing and are pretty cheap.

  49. Amy

    I want to paint the top of my Ikea Liatorp table, so this is a great guide, thank you. I am very weary of doing it and just wanted to check, you said to paint either a gloss or eggshell over a standard emulsion, so after priming, should I be painting in a white, basic emulsion letting that dry and then covering in a gloss? Also, as this is will be a regularly used piece of furniture, I’m worried that it will scratch and mark easily, so I wanted to seal the gloss paint for extra protection, is this possible? If so, what kind of sealant would you recommend? As I’ve heard many stories of sealant turning paint yellow (I will be painting the table in a pale grey colour)

    Many thanks in advance!!

  50. Joanna

    This was great. Thanks so much. I am currently in the process of stripping the KURA bunk beds I bought and painted (but didn’t yet assemble) After reading this article, I can now list ALL the things I did wrong! I sanded but even did that wrong…The paint comes off with a butter knife and since I didn’t allow sufficient drying time, it never fully dried (its been months) and sticks to itself and others. Fortunately, since it was so bad the paint comes off in strips with a razor blade so it won’t take as long to strip as it would if I had done ANY of the prep work correctly! ha! Thanks again for your article. I will be referencing it again in the future.

    1. Avatar photo Author

      You’re welcome, thanks for dropping by! It’s a shame things went so badly for you on your first try but better luck next time :)

  51. Diedra

    What is your take on using chalk paint? Particularly Annie Sloan chalk paint. I want to paint my Malm dressers and I’m trying to figure out the best paint to tackle this with.

    1. Avatar photo Author

      I haven’t tried chalk paint to be honest but I think as long as you follow the prep stages it should be fine. They do also recommend a protective wax on their site so you can follow it up with that for best results. Good luck!

    2. patrice paige

      Please post on how that turns out and the steps you took.
      I want to paint my expedit with AS chalk paint and am really hesitant.

  52. annalie

    this is a wonderful tutorial. What kind of paint do you recommend? Latex or oil based?

    1. Avatar photo Author

      Hi Annalie, I’d definitely recommend oil based over latex paint for Ikea furniture as it’s much more durable.

  53. Riccardo

    Thanks alot for the excellent guide!
    I did my LACK table today, with primer, old village buttermilk paint and finally a urethane sealer. But haven’t sand it… Will all the job be vain?
    Thanks to let me know before to use the table :-(

    1. Avatar photo Author

      Hard to say. The primer and urethane sealer will have done a lot to help but Lack tables do have quite a smooth surface and would really benefit from a light sanding.
      I’d say go ahead and use it and if you notice bits of paint flaking off then consider stripping it down and starting again (or just buying a new one if you’re close to an Ikea as they’re pretty cheap)

  54. Hadrian Wells

    Some handy tips here. Can’t recommend that zinnser bin primer enough, it’s miles ahead of the rest. The difference is clear when I compare the chest of drawers I just did to the other ikea furniture i painted about 6 months ago without it. Cheers

  55. Sheila

    Oh my god thanks for this guide! I painted my little lack table a few weeks ago and the paint chipped off this morning when I put a glass down on it. I primed it so thought it’d be strong but I didn’t sand the white coating of the table before starting. Gutted :(

    1. malay

      I have a white malm dresser and want to paint it black, should I still sand and use primer first? And do I use oil paint?

      1. Erin

        Sand and prime, definitely. You will regret it immensely if you don’t.

      2. John Squires

        What should I use to remove old paint and turn kallax back to white without damaging the surface

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