How to Paint Particle Board? (4 Easy Steps)

The synthetic formula and porosity of particle boards make it tricky to apply paint on the board. Since particle board is porous and made from synthetic glue and wood particles, paint gets soaked into the wood and when this happens, the particle board starts to swell.

So, to get a smooth paint finish on particleboard, you’ll need to sand and prime the board before applying the paint. But that’s not all you need to do before painting particle board.

This post discusses in detail all you need to know about painting a particle board successfully including the tools needed for the task. Let’s dive in.

What Kind Of Paint Can You Use On Particle Board?

The best type of paint to use on a particle board is oil-based paint. This includes different types of oil-based paints including lacquer. However, if you primed the particle board with a stain-blocking oil-based primer, you can apply water-based paint on the particle board when the primer coat gets dry.

The reason oil-based paint is recommended for particle boards is that oil-based paints don’t cause the faux wood to swell as water-based paints do.

Asides from that, oil-based paints offer good protection to the particle board from wood damage and moisture. If you use water-based paint on a particle board, you should seal the water-based paint with a clear sealant to protect and preserve the finish.

Next, let’s check out how to paint a particle board.

How to Paint Particle Board?

Applying paint over a particle board surface isn’t tough and it’s a task you can take on yourself as long as you have the right tools and you know the right steps to follow. Luckily, this guide reveals the tools and supplies needed to paint a particle board in 5 simple steps.

Here are the tools and supplies needed to paint a particle board:

  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Oil-based or solvent-based primer
  • A portable vacuum or duster
  • Paintbrushes
  • A screwdriver
  • A sealant like polyurethane (optional)

Here is a 5-step guide to painting a particle board easily:

1. Sand The Particle Board

Sand The Particle Board

The first step is to remove the attachments and fittings on the particleboard. Metal fittings, handles, wall sockets, and the likes should be removed from the particleboard surface or paint will get on them.

You can unscrew handles and metal fittings with a screwdriver. After removing the fittings, wipe down the particle board with a rag to remove stains.

The next step is to sand down the particle board with a fine-grit sandpaper. 220-grit sandpaper works fine. The purpose of sanding is to remove splinters, loose particles, and grain on the particleboard. Sanding makes the particle board smooth and ready to be painted.

If the particle board was sealed or laminated, you’ll need to sand with 120-grit sandpaper. This is to remove the laminate coat on the particle board – laminated particle boards repel paint due to the presence of a laminate coat on the particle board. So you need to remove that first with 120-grit sandpaper.

After sanding the board, you should remove the dust from the surface – you can do this with a vacuum or duster.

2. Apply A Coat Of Primer

Apply A Coat Of Primer

The next step after sanding is to prime the particle board. To do this, you should use an oil-based primer. If you intend to use water-based paint on the particle board, then you should apply a primer coating that is compatible with water-based paints.

You shouldn’t use latex, acrylic, or water-based primers on a particle board as the water in the primer coating will cause the particle board to swell.

3. Apply The Paint

Apply The Paint

When the primer coating is dry, you can apply multiple coats of the paint – It takes an average of 2 hours for the primer coat to dry. Since you already primed the particle board, water-based or oil-based paint can be used on it but oil-based paints offer better protection.

You should use a paintbrush to apply the paint and you should only move the paintbrush in a horizontal or vertical direction.

You should wait for each paint coat to dry before applying the next coat. Water-based paints dry in 30 minutes but wait 1 hour between coats. Oil-based paints take 2 hours to dry between coats. You should apply 3-4 coats of paint on the particle board to get the desired finish.

4. Seal The Paint

Seal The Paint

The final step is to seal the paint with a top coat. This step is optional but sealing the paint on the particle board helps to preserve the finish. You can seal the paint with polyurethane, varnish, or any other solvent-based sealant.

Can You Paint Directly On Particle Board?

You shouldn’t paint directly on a particle board because particle boards don’t accept paint properly. If you paint directly on a particle board, the paint will be soaked heavily in the wood board causing it to swell. Before you can apply paint on a particle board, you need to seal the seams and prime the wood with a solvent-based primer.

Particle boards at first glance look like natural wood but a closer look and you’ll see that it’s not real wood. Particle board is a faux wood or artificial wood made from wood shavings, wood chips, sawdust, plastic waste, and synthetic resins.

These are glued together using adhesives. The make-up of particle boards makes the wood very porous. So, when you apply paint directly over a particle board, the paint will be soaked in heavily causing an uneven finish.

Asides from that, the particle board will also swell due to the over-absorption of the paint. Water-based paints especially should never be used directly on a particle board because the moisture in the paint can weaken the adhesive causing the wood to develop even more spaces than it already has. Before painting over a particle board, you need to seal and prime the wood so the paint can stick without being absorbed excessively.

How Long Does Paint Last on Particle Board?

On average, paints last 5 years on particle board. Paints have a lifespan between 5 and 10 years on particle boards but how long the paint lasts depends on the type of paint that was used. Water-based paints last 5 years on average when used on particle board while oil-based paints can last 7 years. If the paint was sealed, it will last 10 years on the particle board.

Particle boards are more delicate and softer than real wood. As such, particle boards aren’t used on busy areas like floors. You are likely to see cabinets, shelves, drawers, and frames made from particle board because these wood items see limited traffic. Since the wood board is used for low-traffic items, the paint will last well on it.

If you want the paint to achieve maximum durability, you can seal the paint with a sealant like polyurethane. This will make the paint last at least 10 years because the sealant will protect the paint from moisture, scratches, and abuse.

The cleaning and maintenance routine also determines how long the paint will last. If the paint is frequently wiped and maintained, then it will last longer on the particle board. But, if you leave the paint to accumulate dust and stains without cleaning, then the paint will get stained and will wear off.

Can You Paint over Already Painted Particle Board?

You can paint over an already painted particle board if the paint wasn’t sealed. If the paint was sealed with a top coat, you’ll need to strip the sealant and sand the particle board before you can paint over it. You should also know that if the existing paint on the particle board is oil-based, then you can’t use water-based paint over it because it will not stick.

Painting over an already painted particle board is possible but you need to inspect the type of paint on the particle board before painting it. If the existing paint is oil-based, you can only use oil-based paint over it. This is because water-based paints can’t stick to oil-based paints. However, if the existing paint is water-based, then you can paint over it even with oil-based paints since water-based paints accept all paints.

You should know that you can’t paint over a sealed particle board finish. This is because a sealed finish will repel new paint since sealants are waterproof and non-porous. If the existing paint is shiny, chances are the paint was sealed and you’ll have to remove the sealant, sand the particle board, and apply oil-based primer before laying new paint on the wood.

Final Words

In summary, it’s easy to paint over particle board as long as you know the right steps to follow. You should only use oil-based or solvent-based primer on the particle board to seal the board and prevent over-absorption of paint.

You can use water or oil-based paint on a particle board after sealing the wood but you should never apply paint directly on the board. If there is an existing finish on the particle board, you might need to remove it before painting.

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