How to Paint Laminate Furniture: A Sauder TV Stand Before and After

Updated on October 31, 2018
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Hi, I'm Holly! I'm a DIYer from Boise who loves toDIY, write and share. Thanks for reading!

How to Paint Laminate Furniture

Our ugly, wobbly TV stand from our newlywed days was on its last leg. The sheer physics of the warping table top were distracting–how low could it go? Not to mention, the crooked doors had seen better days (those days before we had three boys hanging all over them). Being the cheapskate I am, I learned to overlook these flaws and even refer to them as “character.” However, the day finally came when the hubby found a cheap-enough energy saver 60 inch TV that would entice me to agree to update our old plasma TV. And as big purchases often do, this begat more purchases. The bigger TV needed a bigger stand, of course.

I got quite the sticker shock when I started shopping around for a new one. I’m fairly certain we paid about $90 for our cheapo Mainstays model, so why is everything I like now in the $400 range? I guess that’s what you pay when you don’t want a wobbly, warped TV stand with doors hanging off. What’s a cheapo like me to do when what she wants isn’t in the budget? Well, check out the Craigslist free items, of course!

Find a Freebie

Watch Craigslist, Facebook, and Letgo for Freebies

We picked up this this older, outdated, and (most importantly) FREE Sauder entertainment center from craigslist. Free stuff usually goes fast around these parts, but we had two advantages over the Craiglist freebie finders with whom we were competing. This item was HEAVY, and was listed accordingly, and this item was large (my hubby has a truck). Lucky for me, we were able to nab it within hours of the post. After a short drive and a “quick” heave-ho with our freebie giver, we were the proud new owners of this exceedingly heavy Sauder entertainment center. Outdated–perhaps–but full of potential.

Take Pieces Apart as Needed

Upon further inspection at home, the hubby confirmed he could remove the top section of the cabinet just by removing some screws underneath the table-top portion of the stand. Screws were somewhat hidden, so if you’re able to nab a similar stand, be sure to look all over for where you may be able to unscrew unwanted features before hacking into it with a saw. After the top portion was removed, it already looked significantly better. The next step was to remove the country-style decorative piece at the bottom. Again, it was already looking better, and money spent = zero.

Use Wood Filler if Needed

A little wood filler went into a few nicks in the wood. Since our old bottle of wood filler had dried out, we finally had to spend some money. Boooo. Cost = $4 at Home Depot. Pushing around the boys in one of their awesome racecar carts = priceless.

Next came the work of unscrewing and undoing every single door and board that was joined together, since we wanted this project to look like a piece that came from the factory in ivory. Honestly, I think it would have looked just fine either way, but since my husband insisted we do it this way, I designated this laborious chore solely to him.

What did I do in the meantime? I played the role of mad scientist, laughing maniacally while stirring up various leftover paints from oh-so-many past projects. Not only did this allow us to get rid of 5 near-empty cans of paint that were taking up the hubby’s “precious garage space,” it also allowed us to continue to keep our project total at…you guessed it…$0. I realize that many folks won’t have all this hoarded paint laying around, and if this is your case, consider Amazon’s selection of eco-friendly and budget-friendly Renaissance Chalk-Finish paint. It’s comparable to the Pinterest-popular Annie Sloan brand, but costs way less. This Ivory Tower shade is the color I was going for when I was mixing my leftovers.


Then came the sanding. We used 150-grit sandpaper and roughed up the surface just enough to take the shine off. Wear a mask so you’re not breathing in these dust particles. You don’t want to sand all the way down to the particle board underneath. You just want to take the gloss off the surface and really give that primer something to adhere to. Speaking of primer, don’t you love it when you run into those know-it-all type people at Home Depot, and they help steer you in the right direction on a project? That happened to us when we went to buy primer, and the gal (who spends all her free time restoring old furniture) suggested we use an oil-based spray primer instead of our usual Killz from the can. This way, we don’t have to worry about brush strokes showing through in the final product.


After we wiped down the sanded stand with a moist rag, we used 2 $6 spray cans of Kilz primer from Home Depot. and applied 2 thin coats, waiting 2 hours between coats. One can should cover up to 18 square feet. You can find a similar primer on Amazon, but you’ll pay more for it there. We sanded again at this point using an extra-fine 320 grit sand paper just to make it as smooth as a baby’s bottom. We compared it in a blindfolded smoothness test with our toddler’s bottom–one could not tell the difference. Our cost is now at $16 total since we had leftover sandpaper from a previous project.

Just about now, you might be ready to question why you started this project in the first place. You may be kicking yourself for thinking this would be a quick piece of cake, or kicking your husband for not talking you out of this c’mon-it’ll-be-fun project in the first place. You’ve given up half your weekend, and possibly some blood, sweat, and tears, and all you have to show is a garage covered in pieces of sanded boards and a naked toddler running around with a paint brush. But chin up, DIYers, you’re finally ready for the exciting part–painting!

Paint and Seal

Painting is the fun part, because you finally get to start seeing the fruits of your labor, and it feels really fulfilling toconfirm why this piece of furniture inspired you in the first place. We did 2 coats of paint all over, and then a third coat for the top portion that will get the most use.

I should pause to reflect about how I’m using the term “we” loosely at this point. Several weeks after fetching the freebie TV stand, my hubby was kicking himself for not talking me out of this c’mon-it’ll-be-fun project in the first place. Anyway, “we” started out using a roller, and that left some texture marks in the paint, so we switched to our go-to quality Purdy brush, and let each coat dry for several hours. If you don’t have a paint brush, you’re looking at a $10-$20 cost for a 3-pack at Home Depot. Keep in mind you’ll need a brush to seal it later.

When you go to seal it, pay attention to the finish you want the piece to have. Since I didn’t want a shine on the finished product, I chose General Flat Out Flat Topcoat and chose to apply it with a brush after reading the reviews about bubbles with foam rollers. Three thin coats later (apply it as thin as you can, because I read in the reviews that glopping it on too thickly will cause bubbles and/or discoloration), and this baby is practically done. Keep in mind if you’re remodeling a piece that will get heavy, constant use like a table, an oil-based polyurethane could be a better choice.

Put it all Together

When my hubby put the pieces back together, he made some adjustments so that we’d have the middle area open for our Ps4 and blu-ray player. He simply moved the right hand board in the middle section over slightly before screwing it back in and left off the middle door. He started the process of putting the pieces all back together before I had even primed the doors (oops), and lo and behold, I liked the look of the bare doors!

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “After the cost of that pricey topcoat, this “free” TV stand now cost $46! BUT it’s about 10% of the cost of the retail versions. Plus the custom paint scheme = PRICELESS.

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