How to Refinish Formica Table Tops

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Things You'll Need

  • Soap

  • Bucket

  • Sponge

  • Two-part wood filler

  • Oil-based primer (tinted to coat color)

  • Oil-based paint

  • 220-grit sandpaper

  • Small paint roller/cover

  • Natural bristle paintbrush

  • Oil-based polyurethane


A second sanding will ensure the entire surface is primed.


Work on this project in a thoroughly ventilated area.

Does your tabletop match this phone?

Formica table tops were popular in the 1960s and 70s. They can give your home a retro look, but if the table does not match the rest of your decor, your home will be more "starving college student" than "retro renegade." You can repaint Formica to match your current decor following a few simple steps.

Step 1

Wash the table thoroughly with soap and warm water. Let dry.

Step 2

Fill in any cracks with a two-part wood filler such as Minwax High Performance Wood Filler. This filler dries quickly, minimizing downtime between steps.

Step 3

Sand the entire Formica surface with 220-grit sandpaper. Smooth the areas where you used wood filler so that they are even with the rest of the surface. Sanding the surface will allow your oil-based primer to adhere to the surface of the Formica.

Step 4

Wipe down the surface with a wet cloth to remove all dust. Allow to dry.

Step 5

Apply primer over the entire surface with a roller, and dry overnight.

Step 6

Apply an oil-based topcoat with a roller for the table top and with a brush for the edges.

Step 7

Allow paint to dry overnight. Apply two coats of oil-based polyurethane to protect the surface of your table top.

Robin Neorr

Robin Neorr has been working as a full-time freelance writer since 2007. She has written for various websites including The Frisky. Before she started her writing career, she spent 10 years in media marketing. She has a bachelor's degree in communications and a master's degree in communications management from John Carroll University.