Can you paint IKEA furniture? Yes!

Can you repaint IKEA furniture? You betcha. And it's surprisingly easy. Follow these four steps and you can transform your favourite flat-pack furniture into any colour you like. Along the way, I'll share some of my favourite IKEA paint makeovers.

'Misty Morning' Makeover

This story begins with a bedroom makeover. I picked up second-hand navy blue IKEA Hemnes bedside tables and a chest that the previous owner had tried to repaint.

Luckily for me, they hadn't read this article and I was able to literally peel the new paint off like slews of flaking skin after a sunburn. 

Bad paint job

The previous owner had painted directly onto the furniture without any preparation. That's like trying to stick plastic to plastic.

Here's how you do it properly...

De-gloss the surface with a fine grit sanding block

The first step is to de-gloss the original laminate or painted surface so that the new paint has something to grab hold of. That being said, it's best to go gently. You don't want to gouge the existing surface - just take the sheen off.

Make your life easier by removing any handles now. If the furniture has drawers, remove those too so you can access all of the painted surfaces, including inside the drawers and cabinet. 

When you finish, the surface will look lightly scuffed all over, but it will still be smooth - not rough or scratched.

Photo credit: @angelarosehome

Angela repainted this IKEA Hemnes chest of drawers with chalk paint, added lip pull handles, and replaced the legs with some she created herself. Photo credit:

IKEA Kallax sideboard project: Step 2

Apply primer paint with a microfibre roller

Before applying primer, clean your furniture with a damp cloth to remove all dust. You might like to vacuum the area too. The cleaner your work space the better.

Choose a good quality primer. I used Zinsser. It can be used with either a water-based or oil-based top coat. 

I recommend applying the primer with a mini microfibre roller. You'll also need a good quality paint brush to get into corners and hard to reach spots. (I've given up on cheap paint brushes. Buy yourself a good one and wash it properly after every use and it will last for years.)

The key to good priming is to ensure proper coverage. It's especially important to cover the edges. It's also important to follow the manufacturer's instructions and let the primer cure properly before top-coating or applying a second coat of primer. (I applied two coats of primer.)

Photo credit:

Tarsha repainted this IKEA Billie book shelf for her daughter's room. Photo credit:

IKEA Kallax sideboard project: Step 3

Apply top coats

You're now ready for your top coats! This is where your project really starts coming to life.

Choose a good quality paint. I've always had good results with Dulux, so I choose Dulux Duramax in a satin finish.

I prefer to use water-based (acrylic) paint because it dries fast and cleans up easily.

Also, oil-based (enamel) paints are super smelly and should be used in a well ventilated area. Cleaning up is also a bit harder because you'll need to clean your roller and brushes in mineral turpentine. 

Apply your top coats with a microfibre roller (I find that foam rollers can leave bubbles) and, again, use a brush to get into the corners and hard to reach spots.

Two to three light top coats - with the appropriate drying time between each - is going to yield better results than being heavy handed. You want to avoid drip marks at all cost.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions when it comes to the drying time and do make sure you factor in weather conditions. In humid or cold conditions, drying times will be longer.

After completing the final top coat, try to be patient before moving your furniture into position. Allowing the paint to cure for a couple of days will mean that it's set nice and hard before you start lugging it around!

Photo credit:

Lauren repainted this IKEA Hemnes pantry cabinet to match her kitchen cabinets. To hide the inside, she also added mirrored antique window film - clever! Photo credit:

IKEA Kallax console project: Step 4

Optional: Apply a sealer

This is an optional step, but recommended if your furniture is going to cop a beating - for example, in a kid's bedroom.

You'll want to choose a clear, non-yellowing polyurethane sealer.

Sealers come in a range finishes, from matte to gloss. A satin finish is recommended for most furniture, unless you're going for the velvety look of, say, chalk paint, in which case use a matte finish. For a wet or shiny look, choose a gloss finish.

A water-based sealer (like this one) will make clean up easier. A little bit of vanish goes a long way, so for small jobs, an aerosol can may be more efficient.

In all cases, follow the manufacturer's instruction regarding application and clean up. 

In terms of my little 'Misty Morning' makeover, here's the finished product! We painted the wall and second-hand headboard the same colour.

 Photo credit: Lux Hax

Dulux Duramax 'Misty Morning' is lovely and serene without being insepid!

Hungry for more money-saving D.I.Y. decor projects?
Explore more projects below. 

DIY project: Hamptons-style floating sideboard DIY Project: IKEA Besta media console DIY project: DIY drop zone

 DIY Project: Jewellery display and organisation DIY project: IKEA Kallax drinks cabinetHow to add handles to your IKEA furniture