Painting 1980's desk of particle board with contact paper

Donna Makowski
by Donna Makowski
I have an old computer desk I want to use for a sewing table but as you can see, it is particle board with contact type paper on top. I pulled the worst of it off a few years ago but am ready to fix it up. The second and third pics show the heavy plastic edging - it is in perfect shape. Should I just sand it a little and paint it? What would be the best way to deal with not getting paint on the edging? Thank you in advance. I LOVE Hometalk!!
Particle board with contact like paper from 1980's
Heavy plastic edging
Heavy plastic edging to show thickness
  17 answers
  • Z Z on Sep 04, 2015
    Actually l like the looks of it with the particle board showing. You could either just clear coat it with a good quality polyurethane, of test a spot and see if it will take stain. As it is, it has a bit of a cork look to it. Stain would not adhere to the plastic/rubber edging so you wouldn't even have to mask it off. Just wipe as you go if you get some stain on it. At the worst, the poly could stick to it, but all you'd have to do is use a utility knife to carefully run between the top and the edge and then peel off the poly like you did with Elmer's glue when you were a kid off your fingers during art class in school.
  • Gwennie Gwennie on Sep 04, 2015
    Wow, it is in great shape. I think I would "blue tape" the edges before I tried to paint or put anything on the top esp. liquid. Does water bead up on the top? If it doesn't then I would not put anything liquid on the particle board altho it looks like it very tight and not flaking. Possibly some type of oil stain with built in finish would be nice. Have you considered some new contact paper type of finish?
  • Donna Makowski Donna Makowski on Sep 04, 2015
    It's in perfect shape except for that one corner. I bought it new in the 80's.
  • LD LD on Sep 04, 2015
    It appears to have multiple levels to it, so I would recommend taking a pic of it before taking it apart and make sure to label pieces and parts, so you can put it back together again after finishing it. First take blue painter tape and cover the plastic edging on the piece and check over the pieces to make sure that there are no dents and such on the pieces. If there are areas that have indentations you need to fill those in and let dry. Then the next step would be to sand all the pieces minus the plastic tape areas with the finest of sand paper sponge blocks so you can get good adhesion of your finish. I would paint the metal legs along with the other pieces. Think about using bronze color finish to the legs and then chose a paint color(s) that speak to you for the other parts of the desk parts. If you choose to use shabby paint for the color be sure to give the piece a protect finish, either by using a glaze or a poly coating.
    • Donna Makowski Donna Makowski on Sep 04, 2015
      It's really just two levels. The top desk part and the lower keyboard part. Was originally a computer desk.
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Sep 04, 2015
    If you don't want to get anything in the corner put painters tape on the piece before you do anything.
  • CK CK on Sep 05, 2015
    You might just get some more repositionable Contact paper in wood pattern (or any other pattern that you like) and apply right over the part where the particle board is exposed. In our former home I used it on one area of our kitchen counter top and it worked really well...durable, washable, etc.
  • Nancy Gramm Nancy Gramm on Sep 05, 2015
    You could always cover it with laminate sheeting. A 48" x 96" sheet of matte white is under $50 at Home Depot. Hub and I used it 30 years or so ago when we built a lake house. Can't remember now why we made our own rather than buy new, but it wasn't difficult. You can find how-tos online. Failing that, if you want to paint, which I admit is cheaper, try it on the bottom. You'd only need to do a small test spot. Good luck.
    • See 1 previous
    • Nancy Gramm Nancy Gramm on Sep 05, 2015
      @Hlbronwyn I don't remember positioning the laminate to be quite that easy, but I believe you. As I recall, we used 2-part epoxy and laid small dowels between the plywood and the laminate until we had it perfectly positioned, then removed one dowel at a time, rolling the laminate smooth as we went. But that's my not-so-great memory speaking. And hub and I always seem to find things harder to do than they appear on television.
  • Emily Emily on Sep 05, 2015
    Painters tape on the edging is the answer to no paint there. Are you going to treat the keyboard part the same as the top or remove it? I'm assuming this is not a "forever" piece of furniture? Paint would be the least costly way to go. But even as thin as the contact paper is, you may see a division through the paint, of where it is and where you have removed it. You probably also want an easy to clean surface to protect your fabrics. Paint would be the easiest and can also be covered it you later decide on another kind of topping.
  • Dgoupil Dgoupil on Sep 05, 2015
    On this same day's posting I read about a woman who covered the top of a card table and chair seats with an iron on laminated material she bought at JoAnne Fabric. This might be a good solution to your problem.
  • Donna Makowski Donna Makowski on Sep 05, 2015
  • Diane Wickham Diane Wickham on Sep 05, 2015
    You can buy iron on veneer in several different colors. I've done this with the stain able one. Just match the color to your edge. Worked well for me.
  • Swan Road Designs Swan Road Designs on Sep 05, 2015
    I've seen a lot of discussion about paper bag finishes. You might want to try something like that for your table.
  • Barbara Brown Barbara Brown on Sep 06, 2015
    You could cover it with Gesso and then paint it how you want.
  • Heliane Ripley Heliane Ripley on Sep 06, 2015
    Try a brown paper bag finish and top it of with several layers of clear acrilic spray
  • Chipp47 Chipp47 on Sep 17, 2015
    using a shellac based primer will let paint stick to almost any thing.
  • Foresmate Foresmate on Sep 20, 2023

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