What Kind of Primer Is Best for Laminate Furniture?

Laminate furniture offers a budget-friendly and robust home furnishing solution. Yet, painting or refinishing it can be challenging due to its sleek surface. Enter primer—a vital aid. A suitable primer enhances paint adhesion, yielding a flawless, uniform outcome. But which primer suits laminate furniture best?

For laminate furniture, a high-quality bonding primer is the ideal choice. Bonding primers are specially formulated to improve adhesion and create a strong bond between the furniture and the paint. They also contain fillers that can even out scratches, chips, or dents on the laminate surface.

In this article, you will learn:

  • The 5 factors to consider when choosing primer for laminate furniture
  • What type of primer is best
  • My top picks for the best primer for laminate furniture

The 5 Factors to Consider When Choosing Primer for Laminate Furniture

1. Coverage

If you’re painting laminate furniture a lighter color, you may not need a primer that provides full coverage. In this case, a tinted primer that matches your paint color may be a good choice, as it can help minimize the number of coats needed for an even finish.

However, if you’re painting your furniture a darker color, you may need a primer that provides full coverage to prevent any original colors from bleeding.

2. Adhesion

Laminate furniture is made from a thin layer of paper or vinyl glued onto a wood substrate. Therefore, it is essential to choose a primer that has excellent adhesion.

Look for a primer that is specifically made for laminates or one that has been designed to adhere to glossy surfaces. You can also opt for a bonding primer formulated to stick to any surface.

3. Application Methods

There are different ways of applying primer to laminate furniture. Choose a primer that is best suited to your application method. If you are using a brush, look for a primer designed to be applied with a brush.

For spray applications, choose a low-VOC primer specifically made for spraying. Also, consider how quickly the primer needs to dry and what finish it will give before making your final choice.

4. Environment

The environment in which you’ll paint your laminate furniture can also impact your primer choice. If you’re painting indoors, you may want to opt for a low-odor or low-VOC primer that won’t fill your home with fumes.

5. Brand and Quality

Lastly, the brand and quality of the primer you choose can make a significant difference in the outcome of your project.

While it might be tempting to buy a cheap primer, it may not provide enough coverage or adhesion. Invest in a high-quality primer from a reputable brand, ensuring your laminate furniture looks impeccable.

What Type of Primer Is Best?

Shellac-based Primer

Shellac-based primer is a specialty primer with a shellac solution as its base. It’s often used for challenging surfaces and stain-blocking applications.


  • Excellent Adhesion: Known for their superior adhesion properties, making them a good choice for slick surfaces like laminate.
  • High Stain Blocking: They effectively block water, smoke, and ink stains.
  • Fast Drying: This primer dries quickly, often within an hour.
  • Seals Odors: They can seal in odors from smoke and pets.


  • Clean-up: Require cleaning chemicals, which can be more difficult and hazardous than cleaning up water-based primers.
  • Odor: Have a strong odor and may require proper ventilation during application and drying.
  • Not Flexible: They tend to be brittle and might not be the best choice for surfaces that expand and contract.
  • Flammable: These primers are explosive due to the alcohol in the shellac.

Water-based Primer (Latex/Acrylic)

Water-based primer, also known as latex primer, is a type of primer that uses water as its primary solvent. It is often used as a first coat on surfaces before applying paint.


  • Low VOCs: They have lower volatile organic compound (VOC) levels than oil-based primers, making them safer indoors.
  • Easy Clean-Up: Being water-soluble, it can be cleaned up easily with soap and water.
  • Quick Drying: Dries faster than oil-based primers.
  • Odor: They have less odor than oil-based primers, making them more comfortable to work inside.
  • Non-Flammable: Unlike oil-based primers, water-based primers are not flammable.


  • Less Adhesion: May not adhere well to slick surfaces like laminate without proper preparation.
  • Not As Durable: Water-based primer is great for many applications, but it may not hold up well on high-traffic items like furniture.
  • Susceptible to Humidity: Can absorb moisture from the air, which can cause them to swell or shrink.
  • May Raise Wood Grain: Might raise the grain on raw wood, creating a rough texture.

Oil-based Primer

Oil-based primer, also known as alkyd primer, uses a base of oil or alkyd (a synthetic resin) for its formulation. It’s often used for surfaces where durability and high adhesion are required.


  • Excellent Adhesion: Provide excellent adhesion, even on tricky surfaces like laminate.
  • Durable: They create a hard, durable finish that can withstand wear and tear, making them a good choice for furniture.
  • Good Stain Blocking: Effective at blocking stains, including water, smoke, and ink.
  • Smooth Finish: They tend to dry to a smoother finish than water-based primers, which can result in a better final look.


  • Clean-up: Cleaning up after using an oil-based primer requires solvents such as mineral spirits or turpentine.
  • Slow Drying: Takes longer to dry than water-based or shellac-based primes.
  • Strong Odor: They have a strong odor that may require proper ventilation during application and drying.
  • High VOCs: Oil-based primers typically contain higher levels of volatile organic compounds than water-based primers.
  • Yellowing: Oil-based primers can turn yellow over time, particularly if exposed to sunlight.

The 3 Best Primers for Laminate Furniture

1. Insl-X Stix Waterborne Bonding Primer (Brush-on)

Insl-X Stix Waterborne Bonding Primer is a brush-on primer that is the ultimate solution for painting laminate furniture.

This innovative bonding primer offers unparalleled adhesion to the most challenging surfaces. With its exceptional adhesive properties and outstanding enamel holdout, this primer ensures a smooth and even finish on laminate furniture that is difficult to achieve with traditional primers.

One of its outstanding features is its smooth leveling properties. This ensures that even the most irregular surfaces can be coated evenly, creating a perfect canvas for painting over laminate furniture. Another great benefit of this primer is its easy soap and water clean-up, making it incredibly convenient.

This premium primer is ideal for interior and exterior use and can be recoated in 3-4 hours. Additionally, it is notable for its low-temperature application, which ensures it can be effectively utilized even in colder temperatures, as low as 35°F (2°C).

2. Zinsser Cover Stain with Turbo Spray System Primer (Spray)

Zinsser Cover Stain with Turbo Spray System is an exceptional primer recommended for painting laminate furniture. This innovative spray primer provides superior coverage and adhesion on hard-to-paint surfaces.

With its advanced formula, Cover Stain blocks out tough stains, including nicotine, graffiti, fire, smoke, water, and dark colors. This allows for a smoother and more even finish when painting furniture.

Additionally, it is an effective sealer that can be used on interior and exterior wood, concrete, drywall, or non-galvanized metal. It is perfect for sealing spackle, drywall repairs, and hiding dark colors.

Its impressive Turbo Spray System feature allows for wider spraying coverage reaching up to 10 inches (25cm), allowing you to complete large projects faster.

The best part about Cover Stain with Turbo Spray System is that it adheres perfectly to even the hardest-to-paint surfaces.

Its ability to stick to glossy surfaces makes it the ultimate solution for painting laminate furniture. This primer will give your furniture a sleek finish lasting years

3. Rust-Oleum Zinsser B-I-N Primer (Brush-on)

Rust-Oleum Zinsser B-I-N Primer is the premier choice for achieving a sleek and durable finish. This iconic primer is renowned for its versatility in interior surfaces such as ceilings, walls, doors, and trim. Still, it really shines when utilized to paint laminate furniture.

Compared with traditional primer-sealers or bond coatings, it stands out due to its unique shellac-base composition. This feature equips it to effectively seal and bond to laminate surfaces resulting in excellent adhesion, improved coverage, and a smooth topcoat finish. 

The adhesive strength of this primer also plays a key role in preventing future peeling or flaking of the topcoat paint, making it a great investment for those looking to give their laminate furniture a fresh new look for the long term.

Creativity knows no bounds in today’s world of endless possibilities, and this primer is versatile enough to help bring your wildest ideas to life.

It can block an array of stains, including water damage, crayon, and ink, and is an effective option for those interested in upcycling and re-purposing their old laminate furniture.

Joshua Milton

Joshua Milton is a passionate DIY and home improvement enthusiast. With his expertise in various projects, he provides practical tips, step-by-step guides, and creative ideas for transforming your living space.

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