General Home Design

What’s The Best Paint For IKEA Furniture?

Many homeowners choose IKEA furniture as the furniture of choice for their homes because of its simple, no-nonsense design. IKEA’s popular pieces suit designs for every home, whether it is modern, contemporary, industrial, or traditional. Depending on the look you are going for, you can hack or customize IKEA furniture. One of the best ways to do this is to paint it to match your room’s color scheme.

There are quite a number of quality paints for IKEA furniture, including water-based, oil-based, chalk, and spray paint. However, it is essential to use the paint type intended for the material your furniture is made from—so, first check your product instructions or IKEA’s online database to determine if your piece is made from metal, solid wood, or laminate. For best results, use a primer before painting.

If you are looking for ideas on how to paint over your IKEA furniture and what type of paint to use, then worry no more. We have listed down the right paints to match your selected furniture, as well as other ways to customize them in this article.

A group of boxes of furniture installed at the top of an old fashioned car, What's The Best Paint For IKEA Furniture?

Picking Out the Best Paint

There are multiple kinds of paints that can be used for several applications. As with IKEA furniture, there are some paints that will work best on them, depending on the material you will be painting onto.

In this article, we’ll give you a breakdown of the kinds of material most IKEA furniture is made of, as well as the paints that are best suited for them.

Kinds of IKEA Furniture Material

Huge solid wood table made of real wood with matching chairs in a rustic design

In IKEA, there are three main types of materials that they use for their furniture:

  • laminate furniture
  • metal furniture
  • solid wood furniture

In order to check what kind of material your IKEA furniture is made of, look for the sticker on the unit and find the name of the series. Once you have the name of the series for the unit that you have, head over to IKEA’s website and look up your product.

You should be able to see the material on the ‘Materials and Environment’ tab sitting right beside the ‘Product Information’ tab.

Most of IKEA’s flatpack furniture is made of laminate, often made of layers of particleboard, a design image layer, and a clear acrylic lacquer coating. Essentially, your DIY furniture is laminated in plastic, and there are specific paints that will work on them.

Some IKEA furniture is made of wood or steel. You can use paints that are specific to these materials, and you can paint it like any normal furniture with the same material is being painted.

Matching Paint With IKEA Furniture

A colourful array of paint tins

Now that the material of your IKEA furniture has been identified, the paint needed to be used should be specific to the material. This is to ensure that your paint will be applied correctly and the quality will be optimal even as your furniture piece is already a few years old.

First of all, one of the best-kept secrets that professionals use whenever they are painting custom furniture is this—shellac primer. Basically, a primer is a base coat of paint that primes your surface for whatever final finishing paint you will be using.

For a lot of professionals, they use shellac primers because it has quite a number of benefits that make your custom furniture painting a lot easier.

  • shellac primers sticks to ALL surfaces without sanding. This means you can use it for laminate, wood or steel,
  • it dries really fast and covers odors,
  • it seals stains and makes the surface perfect for your finishing paint,
  • it works with any kind of finishing paint,
  • and it works with all kinds of top coats.

Get this shellac-based primer on Amazon.

Now that you’ve primed and prepped your furniture piece, there are a number of paints that you can use for your IKEA furniture. There are a few kinds that are quite popular for furniture painting and choosing what kind to use really depends on what look you are aiming for.


Set of watercolor paints and brushes for painting

Water-based paints or latex paints are popular because they are easy to clean up and emit less toxic fumes than oil-based paints. Latex paints are also quick drying and more flexible to different surface materials.

It also doesn’t yellow over time, making it the perfect choice if you are going to paint furniture with a lighter color. One important thing to know about latex paints is that it needs a primer in order for the paint not to stain or bleed.


Oil-based paints are very durable and last a very long time. These oil-based paints are known to last for years as long as the piece is sealed well. It can also cover up any odors that have been stuck to your furniture.

A few caveats with oil paints though is that it doesn’t dry fast and it isn’t as flexible as latex so it can crack on the surface. It also is hard to clean up and can yellow over time.

Chalk Paint

Chalk paints are decorative paints known for their matte, chalky appearance, perfect for getting that distressed shabby look or vintage feel for your furniture. It’s great for layering as chalk paints often change their looks and produce stunning effects, depending on how you apply them to your furniture.

While chalk paint is great for more craftsy paint ideas, it may be quite difficult for some painters to achieve a certain look with this paint. It produces more visible brush strokes and you might need a few coats just to get an even finish.

Spray Paint

Worker spraying paint over processed wood at production facility

Spray paint is very popular, especially for those who are looking to paint furniture pieces that are smaller in size. These paints are easy to apply and provide even coverage to your piece as long as it is applied properly.

It also dries fairly quickly, making it a great choice if you’re in a mad rush to get this piece back inside your home. However, spray paint is also very costly and it’s not suggested for repainting furniture pieces that are quite big.

What Should I Use to Seal My Painted Furniture?

Now that you’ve painted and customized your IKEA furniture, you might be wondering what’s next? One of the best ways to extend the life of your painting project is to seal your piece properly. This will prevent wear and tear on your painted furniture.

One of the most suggested top coats to use is a water-based polyurethane topcoat. This topcoat does not yellow over time and it comes in different finishes, depending on the look you’d like for your furniture.

They both work for water-based or oil-based paints, but it is still best to test the topcoat on an inconspicuous part of your furniture before proceeding to use it completely.

Get this clear topcoat on Amazon.

Can You Customize IKEA Furniture?

A man follows instructions to build an IKEA flat-pack chest of drawers at home

One of the caveats of having IKEA furniture is having the same look just like everyone else who bought it. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it also doesn’t show off your personality and style as easily as custom-made furniture.

Fortunately, IKEA furniture can be customized in a lot of ways. Other than repainting it, you can also choose to change drawer knobs or the legs of your IKEA furniture. This elevates the look and design of the furniture you have gotten.

You might also use other design elements like decorative contact paper, adding panel designs, or putting together multiple IKEA furniture side by side to create a unique item.

In Closing

Painting your IKEA furniture is one of the best ways to customize them. There are a few paints you can use to paint your furniture, and they will surely elevate the look of your piece.

If you feel like doing an IKEA furniture painting project, make sure to choose the right paint for the right IKEA furniture material to ensure quality and a long-lasting piece.

Want more inspiration for decorating your home? Check out these other posts:

How To Choose The Right Couch Color For Your Living Room

11 Best Colors For Small Living Room Walls