How To Paint Particle Board – Complete Instructions and FAQ

A stack of particle board sheets.

You get your hands on a particle board furniture item, and you decide to paint it to make it your own. Yet, what starts as excitement quickly turns into a sense of being way over your head.

You search online and feel overwhelmed by the scary amount of information on primers, brushes, paint types, and more. The list seems to go on and on.

We know exactly how you feel because we’ve been in your shoes. This is why we decided to put together this straightforward how-to guide to help you out.

Just breathe a sigh of relief and jump into our easy-to-read guide. You’ll learn all about how to paint particle board pieces in just a few simple steps.

Can you paint a particle board? Particle board can be painted successfully if you carefully prep the surface first and seal the project with a protective finish. Follow these steps:

  1. Remove the hardware.
  2. Scuff the surface with sandpapers.
  3. Prime your particle board.
  4. Apply 2 – 4 layers of paint.
  5. Apply the final clear coat.

Easy, right?

Yet, that’s not all! We’ll also be sharing a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when painting. They’ll help you keep track of what you should and shouldn’t do.

Let’s get painting!

Supplies Needed

1. Remove Hardware 

Before painting your particle board, remove any metal fittings or handles attached to the piece of furniture. You don’t want the paint to reach those handles.

The hardware is often easy to remove using a screwdriver. Then, place them somewhere safe so you don’t lose any pieces.

2. Sand the Board

Particle board is often laminated to give it a smooth surface. This laminate will prevent new paint from sticking to the surface. You’ll need to remove that sheen using sandpaper.

Begin by using the rough 80-grit sandpaper to scrape off that laminate. Keep in mind that this will leave the surface feeling rough and scratchy.

Next, use the medium 120-grit sandpaper to make it smooth, and follow with the fine 220-grit sandpaper.

Using all three types of sandpaper is ideal. However, if you have a lot of surfaces to cover, you can save time by using only the medium 120-grit sandpaper.

Particle boards are easy to scratch and damage. To avoid this, make sure you don’t apply too much pressure when sanding the surface. 

3. Apply the Oil-Based Primer

Painting the particle board is easy. Yet, getting the paint to stay in place is a whole other story. This is where the primer comes into play.

Use a wide paintbrush to apply an even layer of the oil-based primer (this is great one for both indoor and outdoor use) over the entire surface.

Allow 30 – 60 minutes for the primer to fully dry. If you can, allow your particle board to dry in the sun.

To check if the primer is dry, give it a gentle scratch with your fingernail. If it doesn’t leave a mark or peel off, then you’re good to go.

KILZ Adhesion Primer, Interior/Exterior, 1 Gallon
  • A good bonding primer is essential to ensure that topcoats adhere to tough-to-paint surfaces. High...
  • KILZ Adhesion is a unique latex primer developed to bond securely on slick surfaces where a...

4. Prepare the Paint

Make sure that the paintbrush or paint roller of your desired size is ready. You don’t want to prepare your paint only to discover that you’re missing the brush.

As for the paint itself, oil-based paints are often the best choice for particle boards.

The standard formula for mixing oil-based paints is 8 ounces (1 cup) of paint thinner or mineral spirits with a gallon of paint. The thinner gives the paint a nice consistency.

Sunnyside 70532 Pure Odorless Paint Thinner, Quart
  • Not for sale in California and other VOC restricted areas
  • Completely odorless solvent for thinning oil-based paints, primers, varnishes and stains

5. Apply the First Layer

Now that your paint is ready, it’s time to apply the first coat of paint with a brush or roller. Use straight, smooth strokes to avoid leaving streaks.

Allow the boards to dry for 60 minutes, preferably outdoors. Keep in mind that paint will take longer to dry indoors, especially in cold weather.

After 60 minutes, gently touch the surface. If no paint rubs off on your finger, then it’s ready for the next step.

6. Smooth the First Layer

If you move your hand over the dried paint, you’ll notice it feels rough compared to how it was before the paint. This is completely natural because when the paint dries, it tends to leave a bumpy texture.

To fix that, use the 220-grit sandpaper and swipe over the first paint coat using gentle pressure. It’ll re-polish the paint surface, as well as allow for better adhesion of the second layer.

7. Apply the Second Layer

Apply the second layer of paint. Many people have separate brushes or rollers for each layer, but a word of advice: use the same tool you used for the first layer.

The first brush you used already has paint on the bristles. This can help minimize brush marks and streaks when it’s time to add another layer.

Another tip to reduce brush marks is to paint in one direction. In other words, don’t move the brush back and forth, but rather move it in one direction over the entire surface.

Again, allow up to 60 minutes for the paint to dry before proceeding. Once it dries, you can add a third, or even a fourth, layer if you want a deeper color.

8. Apply the Clear Coat 

If you’d like to get back that luminous sheen you had before painting, don’t skip this vital step.

A clear coat (polyurethane is ideal in most cases) doesn’t only give you a lustrous finish, it also protects the underlying layers of paint.

Use a foam brush to apply a thin layer of clear coat over your finished particle board.

We mentioned above that you should keep the brush moving in one direction. In this step, however, it’s better to go back and forth to ensure complete coverage.

Leave to dry for 24 hours, preferably indoors. This way, you can protect the board from possible dust and debris that may stick to the wet coat.

Rust-Oleum 9141H Oil-Based Ultimate Polyurethane,...
  • Protects interior wood surfaces such as furniture, cabinets, trim and doors
  • Oil based formula provides maximum durability and allows for a more even finish

9. Reattach the Hardware

Once your paint is completely dry, it’s time to reattach any hardware. Alternatively, you can buy new hardware to give your board a complete makeover!

Common Questions About Painting Particle Board

A single sheet of particle board.

Do You Need To Sand the Particle Board Before Painting?

It’s common for people to skip the sanding process, particularly if the board doesn’t have any defects. However, we recommend sanding your piece anyway.

Sanding doesn’t only help reduce the defects, but it also helps scuff the surface. This scuffing helps the paint better adhere to the surface.

Should I Prime the Particle Board Before Painting?

Primer is often used on real wood to prevent the paint from bleeding through.

Yet, particle boards are wood-based products made by compressing wood chips and adhering them with glue.

For this reason, many people don’t consider particle board as natural wood, and they assume they don’t need a primer.

Most particle boards don’t allow the paint to soak in due to the wax content. Still, we recommend using a primer to allow for better paint retention.

Can I Use Water-Based Primer on Particle Board?

It’s not recommended to use a water-based primer on particle board. It tends to seep in between the particle board wood chips and cause the piece to swell, which might damage the board’s integrity.

Always use oil-based primers as they’re the best choice for particle board.

Can You Paint Particle Boards With Latex Paint?

We don’t recommend it. Latex paint is water-based paint that requires a water-based primer. We already mentioned that wood doesn’t take kindly to water.

However, if your particle board has been previously painted with oil-based paint, you can use a water-based primer and latex paint to repaint the board.

The previous paint layer will prevent the water-based primer from seeping into the wood.

That said, you may still get some swelling in small areas. Hence, we recommend sticking to oil-based primers and paints when dealing with particle boards.

Best Paint for Particle Board

Take a look at our top three oil-based paint recommendations.

Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors

Williamsburg Oil Traditional Colors Set
  • Contains eight 11ml colors and one 37ml tube of Titanium White
  • Cadmium Lemon - Cadmium Yellow Med - Cadmium Red Med - Alizarin Crimson

Williamsburg paints are professional-grade paints that provide an excellent handling consistency.

If we talk about color, texture, or consistency, this paint has it all. The one issue we found is how relatively small the color tubes are.

If you tend to use one color over others, we recommend buying that color tube individually.

Old Holland Classic Oil Paints

Old Holland paints offer a high-quality product that you can use on particle wood, and it comes in a wide range of colors at a more affordable price.

The downside is the quality inconsistency. Some colors, like the Scheveningen, use cheaper pigments that tend to show after your painting is finished.

Gamblin Artist Oil Colors 

Gamblin Artist paint is one of the best products in the oil-based painting market.

It’s not that expensive, it’s environmentally friendly, and it’s on par with our two other recommendations when it comes to quality.

One thing we didn’t like about it is the variable consistency. Even if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions every time, you tend to end up with different consistencies from time to time.

Wrapping It Up

It’s important to know how to paint particle board, but it’s also helpful to understand why. In a world of constant inflation and soaring prices, it pays to be smart.

Refurbishing old items lying around your home is now more popular than ever! All you have to do is find the right materials and put in a bit of elbow grease, and they’ll look brand new and better than ever!

Last update on 2022-05-18 at 22:59 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print
Rich

Rich

I'm a hobby enthusiast with a real love for painting miniatures. I also happen to run this site and write the majority of its content!