PAINTING OVER HIGH GLOSS FURNITURE | MELAMINE VS FORMICA VS LAMINATE… WHAT I DIDN’T KNOW! | VIDEO TUTORIAL
Has a shiny piece of furniture ever left you scratching your head on whether it’s laminate, Formica, or melamine? Well, you’re not the only one! Today is all about Painting Over High Gloss Furniture! When I found this super shiny dresser, I thought it was time I do a little research and demystify (for myself!) the difference between Formica, melamine, and glossy laminate. Because quite honestly, even though I’ve been painting furniture for 10+ years and thought I knew the difference I was only half right! — and half wrong. 😉
It’s also Furniture Fixer Upper day my friends – one of my favorite days of the month! I’m joining my furniture painting besties and linking to their makeovers below.
Here’s the boxy-glossy dresser I started with. I picked it up from the Restore for $30. I knew it was laminate because of the slick plastic finish. Also, the grain pattern is EXACTLY the same on each drawer. I’ll be sharing another laminate indicator down below.
But before I get into the how-to, here’s the new look. SOOOO much better!!!
The Conch Silk Paint (love this color!) and revamped hardware really steal the show, don’t you think?!
THIS POST IS SPONSORED/CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS TO PRODUCTS I USE. YOU CAN SEE MY FULL DISCLOSURE HERE.
Glossy Dresser – SALVAGED
Titebond Wood Glue
Dewalt Orbital Sander
Sandpaper | Tack Cloth
White Mud Wood Filler
B-I-N Shellac Base Primer
Conch Silk Paint
Gold Gilding Wax
FORMICA VS MELAMINE VS LAMINATE
I like keeping things simple. So after doing some research, on the difference between Formica, melamine, and laminate, here’s how I broke it down for myself.
A veneer is a Laminate. Melamine is a Laminate. Formica is a Laminate.
The term laminate can be applied to veneers, melamines, and Formica. I didn’t know this! They are ALL laminate because the definition of LAMINATE is to cover a flat surface with a layer of protective material. A thin decorative surface layer is usually glued onto a base to create a color, a pattern, or to simulate wood or granite.
I also learned Formica and Melamine (for the purpose of furniture prepping/painting) are the SAME! Melamine is a low-pressure laminate while Formica is a high-pressure laminate, but there is basically NO difference in how to prep and paint them! Good to know, right? I’ve been painting furniture for 10+ years, I did NOT know this!
Melamine Laminate – the word melamine is short for melamine-formaldehyde which is a hard plastic for surface coatings. Like what I believe is on this dresser. (But let’s say I’m wrong… it doesn’t matter because prep for ALL GLOSSY LAMINATE PIECES is the same!)
PAINTING OVER HIGH GLOSS FURNITURE
The key to painting over high gloss furniture is a good scuff sanding to break up and dull the shiny finish and an excellent BONDING PRIMER!
Also, a big question is what type of paint to use on high gloss furniture? Once your shiny piece of furniture is prepped properly — ANY type of paint will work. Chalk paints, mineral paints, latex paints, acrylic or enamel paints — paint away!
Here’s the 411 for this dresser…
CLEAN AND REPAIR
I gave this dresser a good cleaning with White Lightning. Then I repaired the loose drawer fronts by using some Titebond Wood Glue and clamps.
This piece had some damage. There was bubbling and scratches on the top plus some damage on the bottom. The pic below is a perfect example and dead giveaway of a laminate piece of furniture. You can see an additional layer has been placed on the wood and that it’s peeling away to expose the MDF.
I sanded the imperfections with an 80 grit and my Dewalt Orbital sander. The reason for sanding is to scuff this glossy surface so it accepts a bonding primer. I did more than a ‘scuff sand’ because of the damage on this piece. If you’re not into sanding, you can use this product here but be sure to read the next step before you decide.
PRIME & PATCH
You might be wondering why I didn’t use Slick Stick… it’s because Slick Stick is for BONDING but NOT bleed through. And once I sanded down the bubbled top and damaged areas, there was bare wood showing which would lead to bleed through in the finish.
So if you have a perfect gloss piece of furniture in NO need of repair, this Slick Stick product will work perfectly. I have a full tutorial here.
If your glossy furniture is in need of some repair and you have to do a little more than scuff sand, to ensure no bleed-through, I suggest this shellac-based primer.
B-I-N is my go-to bonding primer because it’s a stain blocker as well but I’ve heard good reviews on Gripper, Stix, Bulls Eye 123 and, Kilz Adhesion to name a few. If you’ve tried any of these I’d love to hear how you like them!
I gave it two coats of primer and patched the imperfections with this wood filler. TIP – I sometimes like to apply one coat of primer and then do my patchwork. The primer makes it so much easier to see every scratch or flaw that needs some wood fill. Then I sand and apply my second coat of primer.
I sprayed two coats of this Conch Silk Paint. This was my first time using this color. Feminine and calming… it’s gorgeous!
This paint is self-leveling and brushes on beautifully but I’m kind of addicted to spraying it. Here it is in progress.
I found these MCM feet with brass bottoms that I had taken off of this dresser here.
I thought they would be perfect to add a little height and interest to this box dresser. Plus the brass on the bottom goes SO well with the newly painted hardware!
To finish this piece I scuff-sanded some old hardware and painted them with Golden Gemstone Mousse. * Update – I don’t believe the Gemstone Mousse is available any longer but this Gold Gilding Wax is a great alternative. Omgosh… I absolutely love how they turned out and it pairs with the Conch perfectly!
I’m loving this new look!
Here’s the step-by-step on Youtube. If you have any problems viewing below, feel free to watch it on my Youtube Channel here… and don’t forget to subscribe! 🙂
AND NOW FOR SOME FURNITURE FIXER-UPPER FUN!
1. PETTICOAT JUNKTION
2. GIRL IN THE GARAGE
3. SALVAGED INSPIRATIONS (HAPPY YOU’RE HERE!)
4. CONFESSIONS OF A SERIAL DIYER
Here’s another look at this before and after. I hope it’s inspired you and given you some new ideas for your high gloss projects.
LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK OF THIS FURNITURE FLIP. ALSO, DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE BONDING PRIMER OR PRODUCT FOR HIGH-GLOSS FURNITURE? I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. IT MAKES MY DAY! 🙂
Also, a big thank you for all the well wishes in regard to the kidney stone ER visit. You are the sweetest… thank you!
Happy furniture painting friends!
HOW TO MAKE ANY SURFACE PAINTABLE
HOW TO USE B-I-N SHELLAC PRIMER
PAINTING LAMINATE THE EASY WAY
HOW TO PAINT LAMINATE WITHOUT SANDING
2 BEST WAYS TO PAINT LAMINATE
HOW TO PERFORM THE SCRATCH TEST
PIN AND SHARE!
Denise! I rarely comment on anything but I just had to tell you how beautiful I think this piece turned out!!!! Well done, you!
Oh, I SOOOO appreciate this! Thanks so much Stacie! And Happy Holidays to you and yours! x
Wow-I see Art Deco/Hollywood Glam. It is really beautiful.
Thanks so much Marietta! (love your name btw…beautiful and unique!)
Looks awesome… thanks for explaining about laminates and veneers.. I was wondering why you weren’t using Slick Stick,…You explain everything and it is very informative!
Oh I’m so glad it’s helpful, thanks Lorri! XOXO
Linda Hickey says
Absolutely love your made over dresser. Love the color you choose.
Thank you Linda! x
Hi, Beautiful piece. thanks for the tutorial =any reason why using BOSS for the bleed through would not apply in this case?I had shiny cabinets and used Slick Stick but saw some bleed through so covered a few spots with boss and it worked so wondering why in the list of suggested primers, BOSS didn’t; make the list. I am still learning…
Hi Patricia and thank you! BOSS is for blocking odors, stains and bleedthrough but is not a gripper primer. Just as you said DB Slick Stick is their bonding/gripper primer that is fabulous for all sorts of different slick surfaces like tile, plastic, ceramic, glass and high gloss furniture. 🙂
Jackie B says
You have knocked it out of the park again! This piece turned out amazing. Thank you for sharing with us such wonderful information.
Aw thank you, Jackie! XOXO
Jan Duda says
Denise — Your Conch Dresser is beyond fabulous. You took it from ‘oh dear’ to the proverbial Silk purse. The color is sooo beautiful. You are a constant inspiration! — Jan Duda
Thank you Jan! The color worked miracles on this piece… I think Conch is SO beautiful too! 🙂
Wow! I had to look at the original again to make sure this was the same piece. What a stunning renovation!!
Thanks Rebecca, so glad you like it! x
Linda Zammit says
Denise, I’m a new subscriber and I’m addicted to your site already! This piece is truly lovely – such a soft, blush color.
I do have one question – you said you spray painted it. I have a sprayer I use for large pieces that require more paint, but did you use just that small jar of paint? If so, did you lose a lot of your paint in transferring it into the sprayer, then back into the jar? I know Dixie Belle isn’t a cheap paint and I was curious about your process.
Can’t wait to look back through all your previous posts to learn and admire your creativity!
Hi Linda and thank you …so nice to have you here!!! This is a great question. I used 1/3 of this 16 oz Conch Silk Paint jar to spray on two coats for the dresser makeover. I don’t lose any paint (well maybe a few drops) transferring paint into my sprayer and back again. And the Husky Paint Gun that I’ve used since 2013 doesn’t have a lot of overspray if set properly. You can see it in action spraying this piece in this Youtube video here.
Marie - Interior Frugalista says
What a stunning color and the gorgeous gold hardware makes it sing – so pretty! Love the MCM vibe the legs add to this piece too.
Thanks my friend! XOXO
Connie K. says
Oh how I wish you lived close by!
First of all I love your posts! and this very pretty color!
I’m just starting to redo furniture and get my inspiration from you!
My Big problem is…
I have an octagon table from the late 70’s if I remember right. It has 2 leaves with it, they all need to be redone and I’m looking at farmhouse style ..painted bottom white and stained top dark. The problem is it has this top on it that is ” Heat Proof” even though we never say any hot things down without a hot pad under them. My parents and anyone from that age group have passed away and I have no clue what it is or how to remove it so I can stain the top. It set up about 1/8 of an inch. I tried on my own to sand it off…it takes the “wood grain” off with it….HELP! I’ve tried to find out what it is but can’t find anything!
Hi Connie and welcome to the world of furniture painting! 🙂 Hmmm, well if the wood grain is sanding off, it’s not real wood. It could be a wood veneer (which can be sanded down quite easily as you can see here) or a melamine glossy laminate of some sort. If that’s the case, painting it would be the best option as laminate can’t be stained.
Michele M. says
Oh my goodness, that is unbelievable!!!! WOW WOW WOW!!!!
I absolutely adore what you’ve done with this piece, Denise. It it a jaw-dropper for sure. (GREAT color and perfect choice for her pretty legs/feet!!!
Exceptionally well done – and awesome tutorial, thank you!
Thanks so much, Michele… so glad you love it! You just put a HUGE smile on my face!😁
Jen @ Girl in the Garage says
Denise, the pink is so pretty and that hardware is fabulous! xo
Thanks so much Jen! XOXO
I LOVE BIN Shellac Primer and don’t mind the smell, but no relaxing glass of wine while priming allowed or I’d get good and shnockered. I’ve only used a brush. I can’t wait to try the roller method! I used BIN 123 when I painted my front door. I believe it’s better for outdoor priming. I had some rusty parts that I could still feel the texture of, if that makes sense. BIN 123 is an awesome product. It smoothed and covered beautifully and was great to work with.
Great to know, thanks! I did try it once years ago and I don’t remember why I never bought it again. But it could just be because I tried and stuck with the BIN Shellac Primer. 🙂
With no exaggeration- your website is the best informative one around – particularly on paint bonding with old furniture & bleed throughs!!
Years I have asked people, mainly different hardware store workers, about bonding on glossy surfaces. Usual answer, clean and use their products – only to be irritated with the results after the scratch test (which I thought I was the only one on this earth who did that!) ending up with more work to sand off primar to bare bottom!
Several months ago, I was googling high and low for the answer to my dilemma and by chance I found your site and was TOTALLY amazed at the wealth of furniture restoration knowledge. and easy to understand instruction you offer!!
What you instruct is absolute and works! I’ve done two pieces so far and the bonding & bleeding problems usually encountered -resolved- and ecstatic!!
NOTE: DB’s primer isn’t reliable for stopping bleed through as some say! I’ve tried twice and again dissapointed with information and rework!! Your suggestion of oil base primer is the solution!!
Thanks so much for your excellent turtorials!!
Lovely work you do and great educator!!
You just made my day Karen! 💜 I’m beyond thrilled that you’ve found solutions and answers here. Blogging can feel isolating and sometimes you just don’t know if you’re making any sort of difference. So THANK YOU for taking the time to comment and share feedback. Truly, I have a huge smile on my face.🤗
Sher Kelly says
Your reply appears to be written by me, lol. I agree with everything you said.
Aw, thanks so much Sher!🤗
Absolutely gorgeous. That soft pink and the gold makes this piece stunning.
Thanks so much Annette! x
Susana Nobio says
Thank you denise! I never get tire of thanking you for all the detailed explanations you give us.
I hope this doesn’t sound bad but I never get tired of hearing it…🤣! Thanks so much Susana! XOXO
Cheryl Atkinson says
Denise, it is beautiful. Is Conch similar to Tea Rose? Pinned
Yes! Similar…that’s probably why I like it so much!
So beautiful, wow!!! Ty so much for great info, you are awesome!
Thanks so much, Lily!😘
Awww Such a pretty soft color. : I may need to get some soon 🙂
Adding feet was genius. Literally gave this ugly box quite a lift.
Very cute hardware choice, and the colors are sooo well suited to each other.
Thanks for sharing – and educating ! Your tutorials help me so much.
I’m SO glad you find them helpful and thanks re the MCM feet. This box needed all the help it could get, right?! lol. I know you’d LOVE the Conch! It’s gorgeous.🤗
I wouldn’t have given this piece a second look either. This is an amazing transformation and thank you for all the valuable information!
My pleasure Nicki and thank you! 😘
Christy James says
Oh my gosh, Denise, this is STUNNING! It looks so high end now! I knew you would do wonders with this piece!! XOXO
Aw, thanks my sweet friend!😘 I was so ugly I could have thrown paint at it and it would have looked better!🤣
This is absolutely gorgeous. You have such a talent and a great eye. I really enjoy your posts. I dabble in furniture refinishing and hope to Do more with it in the near future. Thank you for sharing your amazing talent.
Thanks so much Nancy, I’m so glad you like it! 🙂
What a great transformation! That hardware is perfect for the piece – talk about jewelry for furniture. And the Conch color is gorgeous – can’t wait to try Silk on something. Super helpful information, as always! Are you aware of any more earth-friendly but effective cleaning/prep products? Have you tried Dixie Belle’s Scrubby Soap? Thanks, Denise!
I use DB Scrubby soap to clean my brushes and LOVE it! As for more green cleaning products/brands I’m not sure. But I do know a few drops of Dawn Dish Soap works… and water and vinegar works nicely as well. That’s all I used when I first started painting and never had an issue. And thanks, I’m so glad you like it Marcia! Have an amazing day. XOXO
thanks so much, Denise! You do the same. 🙂 XOX
Oh, I see the Scrubby Soap is from a partner, not DB’s own product. Still, I’m curious about it….
Yes, I get it from DB but I’m not sure who makes it?? If you try it, get the original orange…it smells AMAZING!🍊
Peggi Rink Aitken says
Well I would have walked right by this dresser- it was truly ugly but now is a stunner! Love the pink shade with the gold hardware and feet. Very fun to see this transformation because many of us don’t have vintage pieces just old stuff that need some love and a redo. Thanks for the laminate lesson also Denise!
Hi Peggi and thanks so much!!! 🤗 I love this pink with the gold too! I can’t wait to use it on something else! XOXO
I love this piece! You took the hardware from a frown to a smooch!
Thank YOU Mikki! XOX
Where did you find the handles? Beautiful
Hi Linda! They came off an old beast of a dresser. I keep all my old hardware and these have been hanging around for at least 7-8 years waiting for the perfect piece. 🙂
Jackie C says
Much appreciation for the tip on primer. Good to know I don’t have to spend a fortune on DB Boss. While I do like their products, they are very expensive. I LOVE this color! This piece is beautiful.
Thanks so much, Jackie!💙 And ya, the really good bonding primers are a little costly for sure. I’m not sure BOSS is any more or less expensive than the BIN Shellac Primer.
Hola Denise, haces magia con los muebles feos. Además este color es bellísimo, ultrafemenino te ha quedado, impresionante cambio. Felicidades. Deseo que sigas mejorando tu salud.
¡Gracias por los buenos deseos Mercedes! Y estoy de acuerdo, esta cómoda era algo fea … jajaja. ¡Tengo que admitir que me emociono cuando veo tu nombre porque es emocionante traducir el español! jeje ¡Que tengas un día maravilloso!
Beth Scholtes says
So sorry. I missed about you ER visit. Hope you are feeling much better! I LOVE my Zinsser BIN Primer! I use it on every piece as you can’t go wrong with priming for adhesion and bleed through. And you never know. So, I just make it a practice to use this product on every piece. This color is amazing and you did an excellent job! I love it!!! ❤️😊
Isn’t this color AMAZING!!!? 💕 And thanks for the well wishes, Beth. I spoke to a specialist and we are waiting for this stone to pass “naturally” but so far no luck.🤞
Do Dodson says
I love seeing you furniture transformations and I noticed those lovely vases you used in your staging. Perfection! Always inspiring. 🙂xo
Thanks and yes, love my new ‘cinnamon vases.🤗 Have a super day my friend. XOXO
Thank you for the tutorial on painting this type of furniture. I avoid painting collectible/antique wood furniture as I love the real wood look. But this high gloss stuff is fair game! I will now be on the lookout for something I can bring back to life! The added legs on this one adds appeal to it. Perfect for a girls room!
My pleasure and I hope you find some fun pieces, Sherry. I think a lot of people avoid them so they’re easier (and cheaper!) to find and buy. 🙂
Angelia Lutz says
This is so beautiful. The color you picked is gorgeous. Outstanding job with the feet you added and the hardware.
This post was packed with valuable information, so thank you for sharing all of it with us.
Have a wonderful day!!
I’m so glad you like the makeover and info. Thanks so much and hope you have a fabulous day too Angelia! 🙂
Hi Denise! Thank You! Love the very informative info and the beautiful transformation. I have used both Bull’s Eye 123 and Stix, but both have sometimes let me down with bleeders. My current usual primers are Boss or Wise Owl primer. Also spray BIN is in my arsenal and I do use can BIN with a roller., but….honestly I don’t like clean up afterwards!
Please explain why it’s so important to prime different laminates and MDF pieces with Bondo repairs. I’m a primer, but was thinking of skipping it on a dresser with wood veneer over MDF.
Thanks again for everything,
Hi Kim! I think I used Bull’s Eye 123 years ago but I don’t remember why I never bought it again??? Good to know tho…thanks! It’s super important to prime if you’ve used Bondo or any type of wood filler. They absorb/take paint differently than your furniture does regardless if you’re working with a wood or laminate piece. I’ve skipped this step and then have seen an outline, discoloration, or almost what looks like an oil stain/wet spot right through some paints. So frustrating so I always make sure to prime.
Wow, Just Beautiful! Thanks for answering those questions about shiny surfaced furniture. This is an amazing transformation!
I like “WOWS”…lol…thank you Lori! 🙂
Hi Denise. Wow!!!! You never cease to amaze me. This dresser was UGLY before you got your hands on it. Now I’m absolutely in LOVE. How you manage to turn something so outdated and plain into something magazine worthy is astonishing. I love the color, the little legs, and those handles are the perfect touch.
Aw, thanks, Monique! I thought it was pretty ugly too…lol. 😉