Inside: An IKEA Hack that shows you how to wrap the top of your bookshelf in fabric; plus how to paint and seal laminate furniture; perfect for a kids’ room!
This was one of the first big box pieces of furniture I ever bought. I was so excited to have something that looked streamlined and simple. It moved with me across the country, but when we got to this house and I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on updates, I decided I needed to figure out how to paint the laminate and update it somehow.
I ended up wrapping the bookshelf in fabric and it turned out so well! Here’s the tutorial for how to paint the laminate and how to wrap and seal it in fabric to give your Ikea shelf a custom look.If you’re into Ikea, so am I! Have tons of Ikea hacks and my most recent one is a similar project involving wrapping a Kallax Ikea shelf in wood. We use it in our playroom now. We also just installed the Havsta cabinets in our living room.
How to Paint a Laminate Ikea Bookshelf
Laminate is a kind of coating that is glue onto MDF board to give it a sheen and help give it form. It’s the cheaper of the materials used by Ikea and other big box companies and it can be a challenge to paint because it’s slick and you can’t really sand it down.
For example, this Billy bookcase is laminate and I didn’t paint it. I just transformed it with fabric and storage bins.
If you are going to paint laminate, you’ll want to clean the piece thoroughly and focus a lot on the priming stage. You need to give it a solid coat with stain blocking, sticky primer and let it dry.
Then I used three coats of high gloss white paint and a foam brush and roller to reduce brush strokes. It’s really important that you let it dry or you will get peeling. You can also check out my tutorial for how to paint furniture with latex paint.
How to Add Fabric to an Ikea Bookshelf
Now that the bookshelf is transformed with paint (I love the brilliant white!), it’s time to bring it up a notch. I didn’t like the way the screw holes showed on the outside of the shelf, so the decision was to figure out a way to cover them up and have it be durable.
The first step was to measure and cut fabric that would fit all around the outside of the shelf. If you can make it all one piece of fabric, great. If not, make sure you create a seam in a natural place or it will be super visible.
I used a white piece of chalk and a level to create my line and cut with fabric scissors.
Then apply a very generous and even coat of Mod Podge to one side of the shelf and smooth the fabric down over top of it. Make sure to work out as many bubbles and folds at this stage as possible because it will get harder to do as you go.
Work quickly to do the same thing to the top of the shelf and the opposite side. If there are any bits that hang over the edges too much, you can use a utility knife or even scissors to trim them. You want it as crisp as possible.
Once that has dried for at least eight hours, you will want to seal your fabric to the shelf and give it some durability. Apply three to four thin coats of Polycrylic to the fabric. Use one smooth motion and don’t brush it back and forth (that will just apply and remove it and you’ll get streaks). Let it dry between coats for about 30 minutes.
Once it’s totally dry, sand down any small edges or fabric fibers that hang over the edges and very gently sand the top of the fabric to remove any ridges created by the poly sealant. You’re finished! Give it a good week before putting anything heavy on top because it will take quite a while to cure.
I really love how adaptable this project is and that it proves you can paint laminate and make it your own with fabric!
This shelf lasted another three years in this room before we upgraded it completely to make way for the current nursery.