How to Refurbish Particle Board Furniture

painting particle board

Heirlooms at Home

Particle board furniture is a cheap option when you need to decorate your home on a tight budget, but the furniture does not always withstand the test of time. If you're noticing your particle board bookcase, end table, or coffee table starting to peel, chip, or fade, refurbish the item instead of tossing it.

Painting particle board will help you save money and add more personality to an existing piece. You can use stencils, a bold paint color, wallpaper, or decoupage to further enhance the item.

Tools and Supplies

  • Sanding block
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Roller and tray
  • Wood filler (optional)
how to paint particle board
  1. Prep the Particle Board for Painting

    As you may have noticed, particle board furniture chips and cracks easily when hit. If you notice your furniture has existing damage, repair these blemishes with wood putty or filler before painting.

    To repair chips or cracks, apply the wood putty or filler with a putty knife and swipe back and forth until the crack is filled with the putty or filler. Then, let the putty or filler dry overnight. For chips or chunks missing from particle board furniture, mold the filler or putty into the shape of the missing piece.

    After the filler or putty completely dries, gently sand over the repaired area with high grit sandpaper until the surface is smooth.

    How to Remove Water Marks

    When water sits on particle board furniture, it can create bubbles and permanent stains on the surface. To fix water-damaged sections of particle board furniture, remove the damaged areas using a sharp razor, then fill the space with wood filler.

    If the damage is extensive, remove the damaged areas and replace with a new piece of particle board. If the furniture item is not that important or sentimental, you may want to evaluate the cost of the repair versus purchasing a new piece of particle board furniture.

    how to paint particle board furniture
  2. Sand Surface Evenly

    Once all the damage has been filled with wood filler or replaced with new particle board, it's time for sanding. Since particle board furniture has a glossy finish, it's difficult for paint to stick to the surface. If you skip this step, you might find your new coat of paint chipping off in a matter of days.

    Sand the entire item with high grit sandpaper or a sanding block to remove any old finish, lacquer, or gloss. Be careful not to sand too harshly on the edges or you risk chipping away the top layer of the laminate.

    how to refurbish and repair particle board
  3. Mix Paint With Primer

    Picking the right primer is going to save you time by preventing you from needing unnecessary coats of paint.

    • Use a gray primer if you plan on painting dark particle board.
    • Use a white primer if you plan on painting light particle board.

    Since we had white primer already on hand but wanted to paint a black particle board bookshelf, we opted to mix some of the new paint color with the primer.

    painting particle board furniture
  4. Add a Coat of Primer

    After sanding the item, apply your primer to the surface. It's tempting to skip right over to the paint, especially if you're using chalk paint. However, resist the urge and take the time to add a coat of primer. This step will make it more likely that the new paint will last.

    We opted to apply a thin coat of primer using a paintbrush in order to get into every crevice. Make sure to let the primer dry completely before applying any paint. We opted to wait a full 24 hours before going on to the next coat.

    refinishing a piece of particle board furniture
  5. Lightly Sand Surface of Primer

    For best results when painting particle board, you want the paint layers to be thin and precise. Too thick of paint will more easily scuff off when items are put on and off the furniture.

    Before going on to paint the new color, make sure to lightly sand the primer layer. This will ensure that the top coat goes on smoothly and sticks well. After sanding, remove any dust with a lint-free rag.

    painting particle board
  6. Roll on Top Coat

    If possible, use a roller for painting particle board furniture. This tool will ensure that the final finish is smooth and doesn't show obvious brush strokes. If you like the look of brush strokes, then, by all means, use a paintbrush. You'll need to use one anyway to cut in corners that a roller won't reach.

    While painting, make sure to watch the edges for any paint drips and use a brush to wipe them away before the paint is able to dry.

    Depending on the paint, one coat may cover the furniture completely. If you need a second coat, be sure to let the first coat completely dry before applying the next one.

    how to paint particle board furniture
  7. Enjoy your new piece of particle board furniture!

    painting particle board bookshelf

All images by Lauren Thomann, Heirlooms at Home