Does anyone know if it's possible to refinish non wood IKEA cabinets?

Brad Zuckerman
by Brad Zuckerman
I have IKEA Besta individual pieces in a dark brown finish (not real wood). I would like to refinish them in a hi gloss lighter finish that wouldn't peel, chip or scratch off. If anyone has tackled a project like this successfully I would appreciate any imput. Thanks in advance
does anyone know if it s possible to refinish non wood ikea cabinets, Individual cubes and pieces make up this unit Dark brown non wood finish
Individual cubes and pieces make up this unit. Dark brown non wood finish
  9 answers
  • Darla Darla on Jul 10, 2016
    Are they particle board with a plastic coating? You can paint just about anything with acrylic paint. You will need to scuff the finish with sandpaper or deglosser, put on a good quality primer (I use Kilz) then get paint in the sheen that you like. A roller will make it smoother than a brush, but it probably won't be perfectly smooth. You could even use wall paper or some kind of adhesive covering like Contac paper for part of it. For a higher gloss, final coat with polyurethane.
  • Katbarry Katbarry on Jul 10, 2016
    I've had excellent results painting laminate/plastic coated furniture without sanding with Rust-Oleum 03504 Interior/Exterior Oil Primer Sealer Cover Stain. If you can't find it locally you can order it from Amazon, then you can use whatever paint you want over it.
  • Jemma Dee Jemma Dee on Jul 10, 2016
    Also consider using the paint additive Floetrol to ensure a brush stroke free finish. Depending on the available paint finish you may have to use a high gloss finish coat to achieve the high gloss finish you are looking for. Rustoleum 2X Ultra Cover Gloss Clear is an option.
  • Schufrei Schufrei on Jul 10, 2016
    A few years ago I painted some cabinets with standard water-based acrylic paint, and they came out... OK. But they don't have that professional-looking "hard" finish that I was after. This year I discovered oil-based paint from Benjamin Moore (It's only "legal" to use it on metal substrates, and one of my pieces was metal so... don't arrest me.) What a revelation! Not only did it give me the hard finish I was looking for -- it was absolutely delightful to work with. You know how, when you're painting with water-based paint, if you have drip spot and don't fix it immediately, you're stuck with it forever? The oil-based is so forgiving, you can find a drip or a thin spot or just about any little boo-boo HOURS later and just run a brush over it and it looks perfect. That's the payoff for the fact that it takes forever to dry. Use Ben's oil-based primer, which they'll tint to match. It all goes on "like butter," the brushstrokes just sort of disappear, and as the weeks go by you'll see it deepen and harden into a really beautiful smooth finish. One warning: It's really expensive. I mean really. Like $60 a gallon. But worth it, IMO.
  • Shirley4 Shirley4 on Jul 10, 2016
    Scuffing the surface first is a good idea. Then I would suggest using a bonding primer... that's a primer made for glossy surfaces. I know both Kilz and Valspar make one... probably others, too. I know Home Depot sells something called Zinsser Cover Stain (you can get it in white and it sticks to anything, even glass). The other thing you could try would be liquid sandpaper (google those 2 words). Might work just as well as a bonding primer? Let us know how it works out once you decide what your approach is! :-)
  • Shirley4 Shirley4 on Jul 10, 2016
    One other thing... about your high gloss finish. A long time ago we bought an old old oak cabinet. I painted the top in a flat black and then coated it with Minwax Antique Oil. I just painted the minwax on... didn't wipe it off. What I expected was a lovely satin finish... BUT... it dried to this unbelievable mirror finish that's as hard as it gets. I had a black lacquer bedroom set once and this top is even shinier than that. It's astonishing, really. It was just one of those happy accidental discoveries about the antique oil. And not a single brush stroke to be seen anywhere.
  • Christine Millership Christine Millership on Jul 10, 2016
    Hi Brad, yes this is really easy to do if you know the pitfalls to avoid, but you need to know to keep the original surface intact. After years of learning, this will give you your IKEA hack result! I always use ESP Easy Surface Prep by Owetrol. I bought mine on Amazon and although seems pricey, ($30 or so) it lasts ages. Whatever you do, pls don't rough up the surface, as the following may/will happen: you'll end up sanding and painting plus polishing for days, using up lots of energy and time and your reward in a couple of years is that your furniture starts to warp, as disturbing the original surface lets in the atmosphere (wet or dry) and alters the strength of the bond holding the layers together. I learned the hard way, I'm afraid. :-) So, after you've applied your ESP, sand very lightly and use a good primer, sand lightly then undercoat and then sand before each of the top coats of paint (your choice). Using Floetrol is good to smooth the surface to a brilliant gloss. You'll probably need several thin coats if each paint type as you're lightening the colour. Another tip is to use a small roller to apply all layers, using a thin flat textured roller, or maybe thin sponge foam. Your pic shows a big unit, so as you want a good glossy finish, use the roller if you don't want brush strokes to mar the surface, and you should do 3 or 4 thin coats or more of gloss so that it won't chip or scratch......thin layers bind together and produce stronger surfaces. Sorry, but I don't think I can advise on type of gloss paint or way to create great shiny gloss, as being from the UK I don't know your brands very well. Hope this helps, Brad. If you've more questions, do let me know by replying. :-)
  • Jennie Lee Jennie Lee on Jul 10, 2016
    A number of people on Hometalk have recommended Restore paint for painting kitchen cabinets. In fact, I think I'll do that when I paint mine. Anyway, you can search for "Restore paint" either here or on Pinterest, and read what people say about it.
  • Gord Gord on Jul 10, 2016
    A Mallimine paint is the paint used on these surfaces and can be tinted to your desired finish. Use a sponge roller to get the same textured effect. This is an oil based product and $ store rollers and brushes are a must.