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How to Paint Laminate Wood Shelves

This post shares all about how to paint laminate wood shelves. I’m also talking about what I think is the best paint for bookshelves. This post is sponsored by DecoArt as part of the DecoArt Art Room partnership and is featured in a roundup of my 10 best painted furniture projects.

How to Paint Laminate Wood Shelves

It’s about time for another paint project, isn’t it? Today I’m sharing a recent project that I absolutely ADORE—this painted geometric ladder shelves DIY! I did this project for DecoArt and could not be happier with the results. So I’m sharing my take on how to paint laminate wood shelves.

I’ve been doing a lot of neutrals because, well, I love neutrals. But I decided to switch things up for these shelves and use some navy. I know…not a very adventurous choice, but baby steps, right? And I love how well the navy ended up looking with the bronze.

painted laminate ladder shelves
painted laminate ladder shelves


And here’s how to paint laminate wood shelves!

(Remember to wear an appropriate mask while working with paints, stains, and finishes. Follow the directions and warnings from your particular brand.)

Step 1: Organize.

The shelves came unassembled, which made painting much easier! To get started, take all parts out of the box and lay the shelves out from biggest to smallest. This is a ladder-style shelf, so the biggest shelf will go on the bottom rung.

The shelves will get smaller until you reach the top rung. Use your tape measure to find the center point on each shelf. You can find the center point by measuring vertically and horizontally and making a small pencil mark.

Step 2: Tape.

Use painter’s tape to create a large triangle on one side of each shelf. Each triangle should extend from the corners of the shelf to the center point. Then make a second triangle inside of the first triangle. I did not measure this one; I just eye-balled it. There’s about an inch or two of space between the two tape lines, depending on the size of the shelf.

On the second triangle, carefully cut the area where the tape overlaps so that it’s a clean point. You now have two paintable areas: a border area and a triangle area.

applying frogtape

Step 3: Start painting the laminate shelves.

I wanted to do a bold geometric design that would really pop on the sleek white finish the shelves came with, so I chose to use Americana Decor Satin Enamels in Dark Denim and Americana Decor Metallics in Antique Bronze.

On the top, middle, and bottom shelves, paint the triangle areas using Dark Demin. Then paint the border areas using Antique Bronze. While the paint is still wet, carefully peel off the tape. On the two remaining shelves, just flip the colors. Paint the triangle areas using Antique Bronze. Then paint the border areas using Dark Denim.

Reapply the tape and paint additional coats as needed. I wanted both colors to be completely opaque, so I did two coats of Dark Denim and three coats of Antique Bronze.

applying frogtape
painted laminate ladder shelves

Step 4: Finish painting.

Repeat steps 3 through 6 on the other side of each shelf to mirror the design. And that’s it! Such an easy way to customize a plain set of white shelves.

What do you think of the design and colors? Would you customize a piece this way?

applying frogtape
painted laminate ladder shelves
painted laminate ladder shelves
painted laminate ladder shelves
painted laminate ladder shelves
painted laminate ladder shelves

For more paint projects, check out my best DecoArt painted furniture projects, my yellow painted nightstand, how to remove paint from clay pots, and my black-painted nightstands!

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  1. Ariel says:

    These look so good! I’ll have to do something like this for outdoors!

  2. Amy says:

    Love them! I have some natural wood shelves just like that and I’ll save this in case our new house needs some color ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Ashley says:

    Great idea! And that gold pot… phew! ? Where did you get it?!

    • It’s one of those plain Ikea clay pots painted using DecoArt Americana Decor Metallics in Antique Bronze–my fav color!

      • Ashley says:

        oooh I love that! It’s this one, ya?

        Last weekend I got a bunch of the classic terracotta ones from a garden center, but these ones are much cuter (and cheaper!) I’ve taken to spray painting my terracotta planters gold, but I’d love a brush-on option. I’ll have to try out the DecoArt metallic colors!

        • Yep, same ones!! I love their pots. They have the cutest options for CHEAP! I just wish I lived a little closer to an Ikea…of maybe it’s a good thing I don’t. I was there too much when we lived 15 minutes away from one!!

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