The Never Ending Desk Painting Episode or How to Spray Laminate Furniture (from someone who made a lot of mistakes)

My son wanted a blue desk. We originally found one at Ikea, but after measuring his room we realized it was too big. No problem, there’s an easy fix for this problem –I can just paint whatever desk we purchase. I was itching to use the paint sprayer for some time now and this was a perfect opportunity.

We purchased the Little Seeds Kids Desk. It fits perfectly in the space and has a good amount of storage. My son and I sat down with the Sherwin Williams Paint Fan Deck and sorted through a bunch of blues. He wanted bright and I wanted muted. In the end, we picked SW Georgian Bay. It’s definitely a brighter blue but I was happy to concede to my son’s wishes. It’s his room and I want him to feel ownership in this project too.

To prep the desk for spraying, we assembled it (but did not attach the drawer rails or fronts), lightly sanded and wipe it down to make sure it was clean. My husband built a paint spraying area in the garage to limit the over spray and we moved the desk and the drawer fronts into the booth. The drawer fronts were placed on wood blocks to elevate them and prevent them from being stuck on the ground after painting

We have a Wagner Power Painter Plus sprayer. Since it was my first time using it, my husband gave me a little run down and I tried it out on an old board. The first spray or two can splutter and create large paint droplets, so I always try it out on an old before before actually painting.

With a respirator on my face, I stepped into the booth and sprayed everything. It was super quick and efficient. It was so quick that I didn’t want to stop and so I did another pass on the desk. The desk looked good. The finish looked good. I was really encouraged. I exited the spray tent about 7 minutes I entered it and went inside.

After an hour or so, I sprayed another coat. At this point things were looking really good.I was feeling optimistic, but after I sprayed the desk, I bumped the desk with my tush while spraying the door fronts creating a small white space on the corner of the desk. I then noticed a couple of paint runs. I guess I was too brave and applied the paint a too thick in a few places. I tried to fix them with a brush, but the paint was already tacky and it created more problems.

I had to make a decision at this point – try to work with these problems or scrape off the paint in the damaged areas and re-paint. Of course, I wanted the desk to be as nice as possible, so I decided I would scrape and re paint. There were three main areas to scrape: the front left leg, the left side of the drawers and the two small corners on the top (you’ll see it in the pictures below). Scrapping the desk was…easy. I then had the realization. OMGGGGGGG. I did not get the right primer for this project. Okay, I didn’t get any primer for this project. Most paints have a primer built into them. It hit me hard. For laminate furniture, everyone (DIYers, bloggers etc.) recommends the same primer (B-I-N Shellac Primer). I called my husband and told him my dumb mistake. We talked about how to move forward. We DID sand the laminate already. I mean that should help, right? Did I feel like scraping the entire desk?????? No. I didn’t. We decided to take a chance with painting with what we had. I scrapped the damaged areas and was back to spraying.

The color of the desk in the first two photos is how the paint looks in real life. The photos of the desk after I scraped the damaged parts makes the paint look lighter and more baby blue which is not reflective of the real paint color. I’m not sure what happened with the lighting, but just know that I didn’t pick a different color.

I was determine to not make any more mistakes and, luckily, the desk came out looking great. Here is a little peak of the desk in B’s room a couple of days after I finished spraying it. I was really happy with how it looked.

Unfortunately, the story does not end there. I was worried about the top of the desk and the drawers. They seemed like the most vulnerable parts of the desk. I did some research and decided to attach a clear shelf liner to the top to protect it and preserve the paint job. I purchased the shelf liner, but didn’t attach it right away (maybe a week or so went by). Then one night I went into the room and saw all kinds of speckles on the desk top. I ran over and realized they were crumbs (B was eating toast while playing a video game). I cleaned it up but when I moved some items around on his desk, I found a scratch.

At this point, I just decided to scrape the entire desk, prime with the shellac primer and re-spray. I should have done it from the beginning. I quickly scraped the desk top. It was actually really satisfying and fun. The pieces came off in large chunks. I briefly chastised myself for not doing this sooner and started on a couple of the drawers. A few days later, I had time to finish prepping the desk….but it was REALLY hard to remove the rest of the paint. My husband and I started working on the main areas that we thought would get the most wear/tear. The paint would NOT come off. I then tried sanding it off and it continue to stick and the sanding actually caused more problems (see picture below).

I had to walk away from the project before I made any more mistakes. After a couple of minutes to reflect, I decided I had to make the best of the situation. I tried one last time to remove the paint, but it did not come off after several attempts. Alright. Fine. The universe has spoken. The Frankenstein desk would be painted like this.

The desk was cleaned up and I wrapped the drawers in plastic, only allowing the drawer fronts to be painted. The desk was put back in the DIY spray booth. This time I sprayed the desk with the Zinsser B-I-N Shellac Primer. This stuff reportedly sticks to EVERYTHING! Just a quick note– this primer smells really bad. You should use it in a well ventilated area and wear a mask. The primer is thin and watery compared to the paint we typically used. When spraying the desk, we used the “stain” setting on the paint gun because it was so thin. I also suggest you ask the paint counter clerk to spin the primer before you leave the store (ours had completely separated). Also – to clean up this primer, I recommend a mixture of ammonia and water (I did a 1:1 dilution).The paint dries quickly, so I would clean your paint sprayer as soon as possible.

The primed desk and drawers looked good. I let it set over night before spraying with the Sherwin Williams Home Infinity (eggshell) paint. Again, the color of the desk is SW Georgian Bay. I can’t tell you how happy I was to be working with latex paint again.

I sprayed three coats and now I’m waiting a couple of days for the paint to cure. Overall the desk looks nice (just like last time). I’m still debating if I should add the clear shelf liner to the top.

Next time you’ll see it, it will be in B’s room! Fingers crossed this is that last time I paint it. 🙂

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