Wood veneer furniture features a thin layer of real wood over a less expensive base material, such as particleboard or MDF. The result is a more affordable furniture piece with the look of solid wood. While it can scratch or dent, wood veneer can also be refinished relatively easily, either with paint or stain, like you would with any solid wood furniture piece. The main difference is limiting your sanding since the real wood layer is thin on veneer pieces.
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How to Paint Wood Veneer
Step 1: Repair Veneer if Necessary
Glue down any damaged wood veneer that has started to come off. Any wood veneer that is cracked, buckled, or damaged in some way needs to be replaced. Cut the area with a utility knife to get straight edges and make it easier to cut a patch of new veneer for the area. Glue the new veneer in place and use clamps to hold it in place until it dries. This will give you a smooth surface to start with.
Step 2: Take Off the Furniture Hardware
Remove any hardware, such as hinges, knobs, or pulls, and set aside with the screws. Put them in a plastic bag to ensure you don't lose any parts.
Step 3: Clean the Wood Veneer
Clean the surface with detergent and water. Don't over saturate the wood veneer with water. A soft cloth dampened with the cleaner should do the trick. Wipe the surface with a clean, damp cloth after washing it with detergent. Dry the wood veneer with an old towel to remove any remaining moisture.
Step 4: Sand the Veneer Surface
Lightly sand the surface with 150-grit sandpaper. Do not sand through the veneer. The thickness of the wood layer varies with higher-quality furniture typically having thicker veneer than lower-quality pieces. Sand just enough to scuff up the surface so the paint and primer stick. Vacuum the surface or wipe with a tack cloth to remove any dust before moving to the next step.
Step 5: Protect the Floor
Cover the floor with newspaper or a drop cloth and mask off adjoining surfaces with painter's tape.
Step 6: Prime the Veneer
Apply a thin coat of primer and allow it to dry. Multiple thin coats are better than one thick coat.
Step 7: Sand the Primed Surface
Lightly sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper. This will remove any blemishes and give the next coat a surface to adhere to. Vacuum the surface or wipe with a tack cloth to remove any dust.
Step 8: Apply More Primer
Apply a second coat of primer and allow it to dry for at least 24 hours. You want to wait longer after applying paint than between coats of primer.
Step 9: Sand the Surface Lightly
Lightly sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper. Vacuum the surface or wipe with a tack cloth to remove any dust.
Step 10: Paint the Veneer
Apply a thin coat of paint over the veneer. Allow the paint to dry between coats according to the recommended guidelines supplied by the manufacturer.
Step 11: Sand the Surface Again
Once the paint is dry, lightly sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper. Vacuum the surface or wipe with a tack cloth to remove any dust.
Step 12: Paint a Second Coat
Apply a second coat of paint and allow to dry.
Step 13: Let It Dry
Wait at least 24 to 48 hours. Then, lightly sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper. Vacuum the surface or wipe with a tack cloth to remove any dust.
Step 14: Varnish the Piece
Apply several coats of varnish to protect the paint.