Painting IKEA Furniture the Right Way

Thinking of painting ikea furniture? Here’s some history and advice as to how others have done it.

When it comes to furniture, we certainly are not without options. In fact, you will find furniture stores that are both locally owned and those that are part of a nationwide chain. For most of us, it’s not simply a matter of choosing from among the more expensive options but that doesn’t mean that we want to risk purchasing something that is low-quality, simply for a little bit of economical savings. That is where IKEA comes into play and it is a store many of us appreciate.

IKEA is one of those rare stores that matches quality with price. It isn’t going to be the highest quality that you will find out there but it’s simplistic design and low prices certainly is going to benefit most people who are trying to purchase furniture on a budget. At the same time, with the proper care, you can expect your IKEA furniture to last quite some time and you may even find that it is outliving your use, depending on why you purchased it.

When Should You Paint IKEA Furniture?For some people, the purchase of IKEA furniture is because it is exactly what they want in their home. For others, they think of it more as being a blank canvas that can be painted and customized in order to match their exact needs. If you tend to be one of the latter, there are some things you can do to improve upon what many people consider to be perfection. That’s right, by simply adding some paint to the IKEA furniture that you purchased, you can add to it and make it absolutely ideal for any location.

First of all, it is important to consider everything that is involved with painting IKEA furniture. In many cases, planning the project and preparing for it in advance is not only going to make a difference in the quality of the end product, it is also going to help speed things along as well. Those are some of the things that we will focus on in this article but we are also going to consider some of the options available for those who want to add a splash of color and want to do so in the simplest way possible.

When Should You Paint IKEA Furniture?

For those of you who actually go to IKEA and purchase something new, you have an opportunity to take care of the painting process in the most convenient way possible. This is something that many people tend to overlook, but when you do it properly, it can really make a difference in what you are seeing when the project is complete. Of course, I’m talking about painting IKEA furniture prior to the time that you put it together.

One of the things that most people appreciate about furniture from IKEA is the fact that it goes together rather simply. All that is really necessary is to take the time to understand the assembly instructions and then to lay everything out, piece by piece, so you can put it together. In fact, even the instructions are somewhat simplistic when compared to the instructions found with many other types of furniture that you assemble at home.

When you lay all of the pieces out in front of you, it will be much easier to paint each of them individually prior to the time that it is put together. This has the benefit of allowing you to catch all of the spaces so that you won’t have any of the white showing through when it is finished. It can even save you some time, provided you are proficient with painting the pieces. There is something that you should be careful of, however, if you plan on painting it prior to the time that you assemble the furniture.

Much of the assembly instructions are going to be based on the labeling of the individual pieces. If you’re only dealing with a piece of IKEA furniture that has a few pieces to assemble, this isn’t going to be a difficulty. On the other hand, if you have a multitude of pieces laid out in front of you, things can get rather confusing. That is especially true if you start painting and end up painting over the labels.

Most of the labels are going to be put in areas where they will not be easily visible once the furniture has been assembled. It is still important for you to identify those pieces and to ensure that they are marked appropriately so that you know where they go in the grand scheme of things when the painting is complete. Believe me, this is going to save you a lot of frustration.

One option that you may want to consider is taking pictures of the individual pieces along with their labels before you paint them. You can always go back through the pictures and discern which pieces are which. It isn’t always going to be necessary to do so but if you get confused along the way, you are really going to appreciate the fact that you have a visual aid when all is said and done.

Another important thing to consider, along with the instructions that we provide for painting IKEA furniture below, is drying time. If you’re going to paint the individual pieces rather than painting the entire piece of furniture once you assemble it, you don’t want them to attach to each other because the paint was not dried properly. This can make it difficult if you ever decide to disassemble the furniture. Be sure you allow plenty of dry time and then give it some extra time to make sure that the paint is set properly.

In addition, you should be cautious that you don’t fill up any of the holes with paint. IKEA furniture goes together rather snuggly so you don’t really have any wiggle room when it comes to filling up screw holes or holes for the dowel rod. Avoid these and if necessary, put some tape over the top of them so that it is not a problem. Be sure to use painters tape so it can be removed without damaging the furniture.

Now that we have discussed painting each of the pieces individually, it’s good to review the steps that are necessary to paint the furniture, regardless of whether you are doing so individually or after it has been assembled. If you want everything to turn out flawlessly, following each of these steps is imperative. Some of them may seem less important than others, but they really come together to make a big difference.

Steps for Painting IKEA Furniture

Prepare the Area – If you are able to paint outside, or if you are painting in a garage or other area that is suitable for painting, you don’t need to worry too much about preparation. Just throw down a drop cloth and make sure that the area is ventilated. Many people who paint their furniture are going to have to do it in their home, and this requires some more finesse. Preparation becomes more than just throwing down a drop cloth, it requires some careful planning.

First of all, if you’re going to be doing any spray painting, it is important to have the area ventilated but you don’t want to have the HVAC actively running. You may not feel too much air moving through the area but it will carry the spray paint and could damage the carpet or other pieces of furniture. Be sure that you turn the HVAC off while you are painting. You should also cover a much larger area to in sure that any overspray is kept to a minimum.

Prepare the Piece – We already discussed the need to have everything labeled properly, especially if you are doing the painting prior to the time that it is assembled. In either case, however, you need to prepare the piece properly so that any issues are minimized.

If you’re only going to be painting certain parts of the furniture, you should mask off the other areas and cover them to ensure that overspray is reduced and that you are not accidentally painting over the line. Take the time to tape everything off using a quality painters tape so that you don’t ruin the furniture when removing it. There is no substitute for a quality painters tape.

Sanding – Most IKEA furniture is shipped with a finish so it is important to scuff the finish prior to the time that you paint it. If you try to paint directly over the finish, it is not going to stick properly and will eventually peel. You may also have problems with bubbling occurring on the surface, so take some time to sand it with a high-grade sandpaper to ensure that the paint is going to stick properly. Some people like to start with a heavier grit and work their way down but if you take your time, you can use a lighter grid, such as 220 from the start.

Priming – The process of priming may seem like an additional step that is not necessary, but it is going to make a difference. The primer has the ability to stick to the surface and it also creates a surface that is much easier for the paint to stick to. You can either buy some spray primer or you can buy a roll-on primer, such as Kiltz.

When choosing a primer, be aware that many of them are oil-based but the paint you may be using is latex. You may be able to paint over oil-based primer but it is going to require a lot more cleanup and will also have a much stronger smell to it. If you must use an oil-based primer, be sure that you get a low VOC option.

Cleaning – Throughout the process, it is very important to keep things as clean as you possibly can. You can clean first after the sanding process but then you should also ensure that the area is clean after the priming takes place. When things are cleaned properly, mistakes are less likely to happen.

Painting – You can use either a latex or an oil-based paint. If you use a latex paint, use a high quality option and for oil-based, make sure that you have the necessary chemicals to clean up your brushes when you are finished. Oil-based paint will make a much nicer finish but it also has a very powerful chemical odor. If you’re using an oil-based paint, opt for the low VOC option.

Seal – This step is often considered to be optional but, if you want the best finish, you shouldn’t skip it. Adding a high-quality seal protects the paint and allows it to stand up to a lot of wear and tear. Most seals require special care and if you don’t apply them correctly, it could ruin the entire finish. When applied properly, it can really give the furniture a professional look.

Finishing Touches – Now is the time for you to put on the finishing touches, including touching up any areas that you may have missed and remove the painter’s tape and anything else that was used to prep the piece. Be careful that you don’t damage the new finish during the time that you are cleaning things up. The paint is likely to be soft during this time so be sure that you handle it with care.

Cleanup during this time is also important. If you take the time to clean things right away, it will make things much easier. Latex paint can be cleaned with soap and water; oil-based paints require lacquer thinner. You may be anxious to finish up but you will only make more work for yourself if you wait to clean.

Those are the basic steps necessary for painting IKEA furniture. Many people consider IKEA furniture to be a blank canvas and with some imagination and paint, you can make it anything you want it to be.

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