Asked on Jan 05, 2017

What can I do about chipping paint on Ikea furniture?

Dolores DeLuise
by Dolores DeLuise
Hi All, I recently had some Billy bookcases fashioned into a kitchen cupboard, and the carpenter who put them together lightly sanded and dusted, used Zinsser oil primer first, followed by Benjamin Moore cabinet-finish latex. Two weeks later it's chipping. What can be done short of stripping? Thanks.
  22 answers
  • Lily Schlender Lily Schlender on Jan 05, 2017

    he should not have mixed oil primer and latex paint. this will not work. you may have to strip it off and start over. sorry.

  • Tova Pearl Tova Pearl on Jan 06, 2017

    Ugh, that's so annoying! I suspect that if the billy was covered in laminate or any other industrial coating (which won't let any paint adhere) then a light sanding would just not be enough to get the paint/primer to really stick. Was the Billy unprimed natural wood before the carpenter worked on it? That would have been the best case scenario. In any case, now that it's too late, the only thing I can think of would be to embrace a distressed look, by sanding all the edges of the piece, to make chips less noticeable.

    • Dolores DeLuise Dolores DeLuise on Jan 06, 2017

      Thanks, Tova. I think bare wood was not an option. It was finished in the Ikea white shiny finish. Distressed is a great thought--I have other stuff that's distressed. Might work!!

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Jan 06, 2017

    Was a sealer applied after the paint was dried?

  • Dolores DeLuise Dolores DeLuise on Jan 06, 2017

    No; what kind of sealer should be used? Thanks.

  • Cat Cat on Jan 06, 2017

    jeez, some carpenter! i guess he's not a "painter"!

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Jan 06, 2017

    MinWax non yellowing polycrylic. Research Min Wax .com for there advice on sealing latex paint .

  • William William on Jan 06, 2017

    I agree with Janet! Touch up the paint chips. Seal with at least three coats on a water based polyurethane. Use a foam roller and foam brush for a smooth finish.

  • Dolores DeLuise Dolores DeLuise on Jan 06, 2017

    Thanks very much, William! He used a foam roller on it and it's painted beautifully. Or was!!

  • So sorry to hear about your paint troubles. I just wanted to chime in and say that actually, the method used by your carpenter is in fact a common go to method for painting melamine products. However, if I had to bet on why they are chipping, I would say that it is the prep work. Probably needed a bit more sanding between coats, and I am guessing that the paint was completed within just a few days and then installed (?). If so, this is where it all went wrong. The proper technique really requires a "cure period." I like to use BIN primer followed by Sherwin Williams Pro latex enamel. I would have suggested waiting at least 48 hrs after priming (depending on humidity) and a full two weeks after paint before installing. A good seal coat would also have helped. Of course, none of that helps you out now. :-/

    You could still try sealing them as others have suggested, but I believe that at this point, the only way that you will get a professional look and quality is to redo the paint job. You shouldn't have to completely strip them down. Just smooth out the chipped areas real well, and lightly sand the rest before going over.

    Not what you wanted to hear, I know. I feel your pain. But in the long run, you will probably never be satisfied with seeing those chips in an otherwise beautiful finish.

    • See 2 previous
    • Dolores DeLuise Dolores DeLuise on Jan 09, 2017

      I'm glad to hear that you had success with a tricky issue--a backsplash. Everything I've known about BIN is great, except in my kitchen!! Thanks for your input.

  • Lily Schlender Lily Schlender on Jan 06, 2017

    The primer is on and the latex paint won't stick to that. I think if you try to put anything on it that will come off also. Talk to your carpenter and maybe he will give you a refund or help you with the cost to have the paint job corrected. (Maybe he will replace the cabinet) Do you have a sherwin williams paint store near you? Ask someone there or at a painting company. Not lowes or home depot no offense. Maybe a citrus stripper if it comes to that? Good luck, hopefully you only have 1 cabinet to worry about. Keep us posted!

    • See 2 previous
    • Dolores DeLuise Dolores DeLuise on Jan 10, 2017

      Thanks for your comment, Lynne. I suppose I didn't do enough research before we went forward, but I read several articles about painting Ikea furniture and thought that sounded the best. See picture and comment from Chris Canada, below, and take heart with me!

  • Lily Schlender Lily Schlender on Jan 07, 2017

    me again, sorry about my previous posting. I thought the cabinet was bare wood. also I am just repeating what my father taught us about painting (from the old days) he was a painter since he was 14 from Scotland. he used to mix his own colors, did graining and staining and wallpapering. again if I gave wrong information I apologize. I just don't mix products.

    • Dolores DeLuise Dolores DeLuise on Jan 09, 2017

      Thanks for your message, Lily. I think it's mixing the products that created the problem.

  • Shaza Lee Shaza Lee on Jan 07, 2017

    there is an old saying: oil and water don't mix. this is the case with your Ikea furniture. the original finish and the new finish repel each other. there is no adhesion - they will always chip no matter what you put over the top.

  • Sophia,M.,McConnery Sophia,M.,McConnery on Jan 09, 2017

    They sell woodworker pencils in all colors.When I have this issue I personally use markers in the matching color!

  • Dolores DeLuise Dolores DeLuise on Jan 09, 2017

    I haven't heard of woodworker pencils and didn't think of using markers--what a good idea. It's getting worse, however, and I don't think that coloring will fix it. Thanks.

  • Chris Chris on Jan 09, 2017

    I just painted two Ikea Billy Bookcases almost the same color you used and I followed the method your carpenter/painter used. I thought we were in for trouble when I could scratch the paint off. But since they were painted, the paint has cured and is stuck like glue. It takes weeks for the primer to cure and time for the paint to cure. Touch up and patiently wait!

    • B. Enne B. Enne on Jan 10, 2017

      I agree with Chris. As I mentioned in my previous comment with links, these primers are good, but you have to let the paint cure. The last DIY job ( wall) I did had BIN shellac-based primer and HH latex paint topcoat. I scratched it the next day, and it was like rubber. In another spot, it seemed to have shrunk near the outlet. I was disheartened! I touched up the 2 spots and let them cure. It is now as Chris says: ''tough as nails''. I have painted many cupboards, it works if you are patient.

      As for Lily Schlender's comment, if it is any consolation, paint has really changed over the last few years. At one time, it was taboo and very incorrect to paint latex over anything with oil. Now the new primers are different. I use the oil or shellac-based ones because I find the paint finish in the end lasts a lot longer. I can no longer get oil topcoat where I live, and I'm not a huge fan of latex and acrylics, so I want them to adhere as best as they can. I suspect the carpenter either didn't prep well or did it too fast because he was paid by the hour. The last time I hired a painter, I paid for the job, and let him take all the time he needed. He was slow, but the paint is still holding up almost 20 years later with only a few chips...and that was on cheapy panelling walls!

  • Dolores DeLuise Dolores DeLuise on Jan 10, 2017

    Chris, your china cabinets look beautiful!! This is the first light at the end of the tunnel!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Lily Schlender Lily Schlender on Jan 10, 2017

    Best reply! Good news for you and all future cabinet painters.

  • Florence Florence on Jan 17, 2017

    I am interested in what others think. -- Yes, I would go with the suggestion here, of paying by the job, not the hour. If you paid by the hour & the painter was not giving you a....'slam, bam, thank you mam', job. He could have done this in two steps. Do the first, then come back after a cure time for the second phase.

    Of course only charging you for actual time on the job. Do you have a contract that he will guarantee his work, lets say for the first year or at least 6 months?

    If the painter bought the paint I would go back to him and give him a chance to explain a bad job. He should make the corrections no matter how long it takes.

    He should be held responsible in some way for producing a 'hit and run' project.

    If at best he should give you a refund. I know it is not easy to threaten court, but

    he in fact did ruin things by shortcutting the job.

  • Florence Florence on Jan 18, 2017

    Delores - I would certainly like to know how it all works out for you.

    I Wish You The Best.

    But don't stop till you have some compensation. Your cabinets are

    important to you and the results could have been as professional a job as your

    painter marketed himself when you appointed him. If I came over to your house and started chipping away at your furniture, you'd abruptly stop me.

    His shoddy workmanship should be replaced by him, to your satisfaction.

    Some handypersons what job assignments but not the responsibility.

    Pride of workmanship goes with the territory. This applies to all who touch other peoples homes in any way. For any maintenance reduce things in writing to

    'Hard Copy'. Ask how long is the anticipation that any job will take. What do they guarantee and how long do they honor their work. Measure time is measuring money. Ask first then you place the price on the job. You are the employer.

    Example here: I had all supplies to replace & tile my kitchen floor.

    All I needed was the labor. Every handy person quoted about the same

    5 to 6 thousand dollars. I stashed the materials on my back porch for 3 seasons,

    living with adequate flooring. Come January, I looked up top notch professional tile installers who were looking for work. They wanted the job - I asked questions; How long will it take? The owner bragged 3 days. How many men?

    He answered 2 plus himself. What was he going to do? Supervise & have the

    equipment delivered then check the final work. Did he have the right equipment? Yes, wet saws etc.

    Now what did he want to charge for, Off Season?

    Only $3,000.00! Great? Not so! I told him 2 men for 3 days, he would not be paying them $400.00 each per day. I made mention that it wasn't my business what he actually would pay his men but that was a H_LL of an over-ride. I firmly but gently said I would pay him $1,600.00 for the entire 3 day job. As long as his standards were the same as we discussed. At about $150.00 per day for each man, that would come to $900.00 leaving him with $600.00 for using his equipment and supervising one hour at the start and a half hour upon completion. I explained this is what my budget would allow (or the materials would sit till spring when other workers could bid.) HE TOOK THE JOB.

    My floor is beautiful white porcelain tile, I am looking at it as I type this, and that was 14 years ago. So the figures herein are more valuable than they look.

    I surprised him with all details in writing when he showed up with his crew, that Monday morning, and gave him a $200.00 deposit, he did not ask for. When the job was over, I gave the two each $50.00 a bottle of fine wine and the owner a case of wine, besides buying lunch for two hungry workers for 3 days.

    The bottom line - I spent about $1,875.00 for a $6,000.00 quote on labor alone.

    $1,875.00 was still nearly half of the off season price quote of $3,000.00!

    Plus later I was able to arrange 3 other smaller jobs in my neighborhood, by showing off their work to others. Arithmetic is wonderful, and the pen mighty.

    Haste makes waste. Don't rush. The time to be excited is, when your project is complete. BTW, -- The total cost for renovating two houses came to $74K my out of pocket dollars was just under $21K.

    I do not brag here and I certainly am not a showoff. I merely hope my arithmetic

    story opens your mind for any project at your home. My definition of a fair trade is not 50/50, but both parties are happy equally - 60%.

    Then you can afford to leave a little extra on the table.

    Post Script: Repair persons that may read the above, don't hate me too much.

    You know pricing is whatever the market can bear. Not all of us

    are independently wealthy. Like you, we can try.

    • Dolores DeLuise Dolores DeLuise on Jan 18, 2017

      Hi Florence, Your experience is breathtaking!! I must say I admire your enterprising initiatives. I wish you lived next door!!

      I've had two major renovations and a great deal of other work in my previous house. In this house, I've decided to do one project at a time instead of hiring a contractor who will blitz the place to the point where I can't keep track of anything. So far, the electric and insulation went perfectly. No complaints. They even cleaned up very well.

      I'm very pleased with the young man who is more than a handyman. He changes fixtures, is helping me refinish some furniture, has done some painting--got the bedroom done before living in a total mess, which also included installing closets. So far, everything is going very well. He's exploring alternatives, including advice given here on hometalk, and is going to be fixing it.

      I thank you again for your response, and I will keep you updated on the results.


  • Toolpro Toolpro on Jan 18, 2017

    First determine if it chipping to the Ikea furniture or the primer. I suspect it is chipping to the furniture as it was not prepped properly. I am assuming the original finish was also white. It may be hard to tell. The info shared about oil and water not mixing has not been true in my experience. I frequently prime stained walls with an oil based primer whether Zinzer or a competitor and then roll with latex with no chipping or pealing. I have washed the walls first. Also 30 years ago I scraped to the bare wood and painted the 1895 shutters of my house . I repainted using MAB exterior oil primer, tinted grey, and latex exterior trim paint per their recommendation. . Except for a few joint areas I have not had to re-paint the shutters. Where there is pealing it is to the wood.

    I painted a 1920's built in corner cupboard a couple of years back using oil primer , white, and grey latex semi gloss finish. The paint chipped to the earlier pale yellow finish on the cabinet in a few places. I clearly did not prep enough in the corner areas.

    As to what can be done. I don't know. My guess is the furniture was not prepped enough. Lightly sanding is not enough for glossly finishes and a de-glosser would be the next step. Medium sanding for sure. Here is the thing about latex. It can take up to a month to completely cure and be hard and tough. Lets hope the finish is tougher in the next couple of weeks. Touch the chipped spots up with an artist brush and light hand, perhaps applying a bit of de-glosser to the white areas first for better adhesion.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Mar 03, 2022

    If the paint was your choice. Touch it up. If the Painter was responsible. Call him or her back in to see what has happened and solve the problem.

    • Dolores DeLuise Dolores DeLuise on Mar 03, 2022

      Thanks for your comment. Fortunately, we have this under control; he refinished and repainted. I have the occasional small chip because this cabinet is in a busy area, and what I do for that is use a water brush--a watercolor painting brush in which you can put the paint instead of water--and it works well. Best wishes.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Mar 03, 2022

    Glad you are now sorted. If you haven't already, then close down the question, then you won't get anymore replies.