How to Paint Particle Board Furniture | Faux Barn Door Coffee Table

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How To Paint Particle Board Furniture After You’ve Removed the Wood Veneer Top… I know this is a super-specific topic that probably isn’t the smartest “blog-traffic” move according to many.

But, I found ZERO help online with this exact problem a few months ago. Therefore, I will now, be the ONE post on how to paint particle board furniture! And hopefully help a couple (literally), people. 

So, you may or may not have read my post on Restoring Wood Veneer Furniture. If not, check it out and learn the ultimate method for removing veneer, (if you haven’t removed it already that is.) 

So, you’ve removed the wood veneer, and it turns out, your piece is not 100% hardwood as you originally had hoped. 

Uh-oh. Now what? Toss it? Re-veneer it? (haha, good luck with that.)

Now, in my Restoring Wood Veneer Furniture post, I explain ways to ensure that your piece is hardwood BEFORE you remove the veneer. I thought those methods were foolproof but, of course, nothing ever is when it comes to furniture restoration you’ll come to learn. 

So do not feel bad if this has happened to you!

I was tricked into removing the veneer on the coffee table I was working on recently, because all 4 edges of the table were in fact, hardwood. 

The particle board was wrapped in 2”x 4”s of pine. 

Once I had removed enough veneer from the top to allow the particle board to show, it was too late. No going back on that one, unfortunately. 

So, I finished removing the rest of the veneer…

And afterward, the table sat in my garage, untouched, for a couple of months…**crickets**

I stopped Scott from bringing it to the dump a few times. 

Although I had no idea what I was going to do with the table, I just knew that I couldn’t toss it.

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As I say on my Meet Kray Page; ‘Saving Wood Furniture Lives is of the Utmost Importance to Me. Nothing is ever too far gone in my book.’

I just couldn’t go back on that because of a tiny bit of particle board, could I? 

Don’t get me wrong, there are some 95% particle board, and 5% hardwood pieces, that aren’t worth your time.

But this piece wasn’t one of them. It was a solid table, made completely of hardwood other than this one area in the center. 

So you’ll have to use your judgment on the piece you’re working on. If it’s a complete particle board desk with fake wood laminate on top– don’t bother. 

If the piece is 75% hardwood or more, I’d say it’s acceptable as a quality piece. 

Which means it’d be acceptable for my new “paint particle board furniture technique.” Hooray!

You’ll want to remove any wood veneer covering the particle board on your piece if you plan to paint it. 

Once the veneer and any glues have been removed, sand down the area with fine-grit sandpaper. 180-220 grit would be best. 

If you have an air compressor (definitely preferred), blow off as much dust as you can, especially in the crevices of the particleboard. 

The most important part of this technique is to get the surface as flat as possible. 

Particleboard is made from compressed wood chips, flakes, or shavings. They are tightly compressed and then bonded together with a resin. This means it will have a lot of tiny divots, cracks, and holes throughout. 

To paint the piece, without it being obvious that it’s particle board, we will need to fill those cracks as well as we can. 

I chose to fill these divots with paint because I planned to use them to my advantage in the style of the piece. 

You can also use a putty, or wood filler if you’d prefer. I’d recommend Durham’s Water Putty if you go this route.

If you choose to use paint go with thicker paint if possible. You’ll be using a putty knife to apply it, so it makes it a little easier to work with. 

Use the same paint color you plan to use for the entire piece, or a different color to create a layered look. 

Using a putty knife, slowly work the paint (or putty) into the crevices, and try to even it out with the rest of the piece. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you’ll be sanding off most of it anyway. 

As the first coat dries, it’ll settle into the cracks. So you’ll have to apply a second coat in the same way. 

Paint Particleboard Furniture After Removing Wood Veneer Top Before Sanding Paint

Make sure you press lightly because it’s easy to push the paint back out of the cracks as well when you’re applying it.

Once that dries, lightly sand again with 220 grit or higher.

I used 400 grit just to be safe. You only want the paint off of the top of the piece, but left in the divots. 

Paint Particle Board Furniture After Removing Wood Veneer Top

Again it doesn’t have to be perfect. If some spots aren’t filled, they can hold dark wax at the end.

Paint Particleboard Furniture After Removing Wood Veneer Top After Sanding Paint Close

After sanding the top, again use your air compressor to clean out the crevices and remove as much dust as possible.

Related: Best of List Part 1: Tools & Supplies For Refinishing Furniture

You’ll be staining the top next.

Choose a darker stain. It won’t be absorbed very well.

Apply it as you would for regular hardwood. Using a lint-free cloth, wipe it onto the particleboard. Let it sit for as long as possible before wiping the excess.

For more help with wood staining, head to my post How To Stain Wood.

Paint Particleboard Furniture After Removing Wood Veneer Top After Stain

As you can see, the stain didn’t absorb much but darkened parts and brought out the painted crevices.

The oil-based stain also seals the entire piece nicely to ensure the next coats of paint adhere to the piece well.

From here, you have a choice to make.  I decided to turn this table into a faux barn door, meaning I had to measure out the lines and create faux wood boards. 

On some parts of the boards, I layered paint colors over one another to add to the aged look. 

Paint Particle Board Furniture Layering Paint Colors

On some parts of the boards, I layered stain colors over one another to create an aged look. 

You may choose to do both as well, or only one of these, it’s up to you. 

Check out my paint-distressing techniques post with info on layering paint colors over one another.

Related: Refinishing Metal Furniture – Things to Know Before You Start

Wood Staining Steps For Painting Particleboard Furniture

Use the dark stain from the beginning of this process, and find another mid-tone stain to use as well. On each “board”, alternate between dark and medium stains. One dark, one light, one dark, one light.

You’ll need to do a couple of coats for the particleboard to finally accept the stain (for the most part).

How to Paint Particle Board Furniture | Faux Barn Door Coffee Table 1

After the final coat of paint or stain dries, apply a thin coat of white paint.

Paint Particleboard Furniture Final Color with Wire Brush

Slowly drag a wire brush from end to end of the piece, leaving lines in the paint similar to wood grain. Use your own discretion here, but you can scrape as much off as you think looks good.

This is just a good way to tie everything together and disguise the particleboard even more. Be sure to be as light with the wire brush as possible as the particleboard is pretty easy to scrape off too.

Paint Particle Board Furniture After Wire Brush

If you haven’t noticed yet, I changed things on this table about a million times. The first time I free-handed the lines for the barn door, and they were 100% WRONG. (I’m seriously embarrassed posting the picture of how wrong.

:-P) My “spatial analysis” is seemingly non-existent.

Paint Particleboard Furniture Faux Barn Door Lines
My Horrible Free-Handed Lines Were Easily Sanded Off & Blended Back In.

But in the end, it truly benefited the look of the piece. All of the layered paint colors look awesome, and they help easily convince people that it’s an old door that has been repainted over the years. Which was exactly what I was going for.

Only parts of the layering weren’t sanded off in my fix for the faux barn door, but I used the wood staining steps on those spots and it tied together beautifully in the end :).

Paint Particleboard Furniture Faux Barn Door Staining
Paint Particleboard Furniture Faux Barn Door

After Wood Stains & Paints Dried, Apply a Thin Layer of Paint Over The Entire Piece

Paint Particleboard Furniture Faux Barn Door

Let this thin layer completely dry. Don’t worry, I know, it looks scary!

Use a fine-grit sandpaper or finishing pad like this:

3M 05114407415 Sandpaper - Wood Finishing Pad ~ 4 3/8 x 11 inch
3M 05114407415 Sandpaper – Wood Finishing Pad ~ 4 3/8 x 11 inch – $1.83

Sandpaper – Wood Finishing Pad ~ 4 3/8 x 11 inch

With a spray bottle of water, slowly blend and sand the paint, so that you can mostly see the wood grain beneath. The paint should come off easily.

Finally, stain the entire piece with the darkest stain. It should look similar to this:

Paint Particleboard Furniture

The oil-based wood stains should protect the particleboard from the water you use in this step. But still, be careful not to get the particleboard too wet while blending the paint above.

You don’t want the particleboard swelling up, but I highly doubt it would happen.

Before waxing, coat any spots that will get frequent use with a polyurethane topcoat.

If it’s not going to get a lot of use, you can skip this step and stick with a clear wax before the dark wax.

I used this topcoat on my table, and I’ve found that it has the least visible finish. It’s a matte clear finish that doesn’t change the coloring of your paint job at all.

It’s more durable than wax and doesn’t need to be reapplied over time.

Rust-Oleum 287722 Chalked Protective Topcoat ~ Clear Matte
Rust-Oleum 287722 Chalked Protective Topcoat ~ Clear Matte – $17.40

Chalked Protective Topcoat ~ Clear Matte

After the protective topcoat dries, a thin layer of dark wax works great to fill any leftover crevices in the particleboard.

Once the wax has dried, and you buff the entire piece, the blended colors stand out gorgeously.

You most definitely wouldn’t think of particle board when you look at this table anymore.

That’s for sure! What do you think? My Faux Barn Door Coffee Table is still for sale in my shop right now, but it won’t last long! (EDIT: SOLD OUT – Contact me to discuss creating this finish on another piece.)

I hope that this helped you if you made a huge uh-oh removing wood veneer as I did. I had to try quite a few different tactics before creating that beautiful table out of a “yuck” particle board piece. And I wished there was a tutorial like this one to help me!

So you’re welcome to those (2?) people that needed this post 🙂


If you love faux finishes, check out the Faux Marble Painted Finish side table I just completed. You won’t believe its not marble!

Until Next Time,


How To Paint Particleboard Furniture
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2 thoughts on “How to Paint Particle Board Furniture | Faux Barn Door Coffee Table”

  1. I thank you very much because that’s what I’ve done to my so called solid wood table! The veneer bubbled up because my son spilled hot chocolate over it and was hoping I’d just be able to sand and stain after stripping but I found chip board instead!
    You are the only one telling me I can save it! Wish me luck!

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