If your particle board furniture looks worn, but you don't want to replace it, consider painting it. Particle board is made from pressed wood chips glued together, then covered with laminate, and it makes an inexpensive décor option.

However, the shiny, laminate surface can be a challenge to paint since it is porous. It is possible to paint particle board furniture by following these tips.

Prepare to Paint the Furniture

To paint particle board furniture, gather:

  • work gloves
  • eye goggles
  • plastic bags or small containers
  • lint-free cleaning cloths
  • dish soap
  • tack cloths
  • 120-grit, 220-grit to 400-grit sandpaper 
  • putty knife
  • wood filler or wood glue
  • paint brushes
  • oil-based primer and oil-based or acrylic paint 

Detach the hardware, or cover it with painter's tape. Remove shelves and drawers, if applicable, to make painting easier. Store hardware in plastic bags or small containers.

Examine the pieces for holes, chips,  or cracks, use a putty knife to fill them. Let the filler dry, then lightly sand the area with the 220-grit sandpaper, then vacuum sand dust, or clean it with a tack cloth. Use wood glue to repair large cracks. For chips, you will need to shape the filler to fit into the area.

Sand and Clean the Pieces

Sand the entire piece with 120-grit sandpaper to remove the shiny coating working in a circular motion. Avoid pressing too hard, or you could damage the laminate. Vacuum or wipe the sand dust with the tack cloth. 

Mix a teaspoon of dish soap in two to three cups of warm water. Dampen a cloth in the mixture, and wipe the pieces with a cloth. Dampen a clean cloth in cool water and go over the surface again to ensure all sand dust has been removed, rinse the soap, and let the piece dry.

Prime and Paint

Choose a light primer, if you plan to paint the pieces a light color, and choose a gray primer for dark paint. If you want a glossier finish, use acrylic latex paint with oil-based primer. 

Roll or brush on the primer. A roller gives a smoother finish than paint brushes, but you may need brushes to get into tight areas. 

 After the first coat dries, sand the piece with 220-grit-400-grit sandpaper, then clean dust. Let the primer dry, which commonly takes four hours. Check for missed areas, and apply another coat of primer, if needed. Sand the second layer, and clean sand dust.

If you want a glossier finish, use acrylic latex paint. Roll on the paint in the same direction using short strokes. Let the first coat dry, and add another layer, if needed. Wait one week before reinstalling hardware.