Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Oh crap, it's laminate. Oh well!

So I found this little white cabinet on one of my much traveled Facebook yard sale sites for $20. I couldn't tell what it was made of from the picture online and was hinging my purchase on whether it was wood or laminate. The previous owner stated it was wood so I packed the kids into the minivan and drove all the way to Kittery ME to pick it up. I get it in the van and guess what? Its laminate!
Here it is in all it's plasticky glory
 I don't think the woman I bought it from was trying to be deceptive but rather had no idea what the difference was. I desperately needed a storage solution for my entryway and this little cabinet was exactly the right size and compared to the much smaller $80-ish unit I wanted at Ikea I figured 'oh well, I drove all this way right?' so home it came.

It had been in use about a month or so before I got the chance to do anything with it but I used that time to do a little research on how to paint laminate. We've all seen the Pins, they're all over Pinterest! One thing they ALL had in common was priming is a NECESSITY. I lightly sanded it a little bit just to kind of rough up the smooth surface so that the primer would have something to stick to and then primed it. I chose a simple sand color that will coordinate well with my living room colors and wont darken up my small entryway.

Ready to prime and paint!
So far this is a very boring story. I know it. You know it. But here's where it gets more interesting (I hope anyway!). I bought some contact paper for like $5 at Target that has a really graphic and bold black and white damask pattern on it and it's going on the back wall of the piece for a pop of fun! 
I had to cover this up. I mean seriously, look at it. Blech.
While I waited for the second and final coat of paint to dry, I took the cardboard back that I had removed earlier and carefully put the contact paper on the front side (which was taped together with some really old masking tape). From there I basically wrapped it like a present. A beautiful present to me :)
I made a cut in the contact paper to avoid bulging corners

Once the contact paper was folded down on both the long and shorts sides I was left with a tab that stuck out.

I just cut that sucker off :)
 Once everything was dry I put it all back together and wow! It was dingy, scratched and marked up when I started but now its sleek, clean and very modern looking.
It really looks incredible

Here it is in my little entryway. You cant see the damask backing very well with the baskets in there but up close it's still a very nice touch.
Its hard to see the color difference but the damask backing is whats so exciting about this makeover!
Lesson Learned 1). Laminate can be painted so don't let it be a deal breaker if you find something free or cheap that fills a need. Priming worked great but I wish I had used a better quality brush or rolled it on the flat surfaces. The oil based primer I've been using is a major B to clean up so I used an older, low quality brush hoping that sanding and using a good quality brush and roller for the 2 coats of paint would make up for it. While it's not super noticeable you can see the brush strokes in some places.

Lesson Learned 2). Do not be afraid to gussy up the boring cardboard or particle board backings on things. Many pins I have on my boards suggest using wallpaper scraps or fabric for this use but contact paper was inexpensive and super easy to use. I don't know what the durability of it will be long term but I'm sure it will be on par with painted laminate :)

Lesson Learned 3). While a high quality brush does seem to leave less visible brush strokes than the el cheapo brushes, your last layer is only as good as your first. Especially when you are too impatient, er... you don't have a lot of time to spend on sanding between coats.

Anyway, the only reason I blogged this makeover is because something as simple and easy (and CHEAP!) as contact paper really elevated this piece from something to hide in the back room to something to be proud of! Now stop reading and go get some contact paper!


  1. How'd you get the cardboard backing off without tearing it? I have a laminate DVD shelf where the backing is on backwards (no pun?) and I'd like to redo it but it's so cheap I'm scared of ruining it in all of its cardboard/laminate glory.

  2. Mine was screwed in with roughly a million little tiny screws. Luckily hubby has a screw driver small enough. Is yours stapled or nailed?