Painting an Office Desk – A “how to” guide

Updated Feb 15, 2024 | Posted May 7, 2021 | Professional insight, Miscellaneous, Product Advice | 0 comments

As a decorator, I occasionally get asked to paint office furniture such as desks and cabinets. It’s something I enjoy to be honest. For little cost and effort, you can give an item a new lease of life. Even make it look contemporary and modern.

I recently did an office refurbishment, including some furniture, so I just saw it as an opportunity to take you through the process I went through. If you’re thinking about upscaling an office desk, then this will be perfect for you.

This is nothing special by the way. All I’m doing to giving a bit of old furniture another lease of life. I’ve seen the work of some of the guys on Designer Paint Lovers and it’s a different level. New handles, painted trim, special effects. It’s impressive. All I’m going to do in this blog is take you though the simple process.


Preparing your Office Desk for Painting


Most desks are melamine, which is designed to be easily cleaned, so stuff doesn’t normally stick to it. Even solid wooden furniture is often varnished, so the same applies. You first need to give it a light rub over with fine sandpaper to give it a “key”. After that you will need an adhesion primer. This is a paint which bonds to the desk and allows other paint products to bond to it.

There are several good adhesion primers on the market, but I like Zinsser Cover Stain, so that’s what I went for on this occasion.

There are loads of other options, Bullseye 123, or PS1 primer to name a couple. Water-based adhesion primers are generally fine on melamine, but you may need something a little more substantial if you’re coating over multiple different types of material.

Cover Stain is an oil-based primer which is touch dry in around an hour and recoat in around 4. You can dilute it using white spirit which will make it easier to apply. Being oil-based, as well as offering great adhesion, it will also block stains from pollutants which may be on the desk. This gives you the perfect base on which to work. You can buy Cover Stain online. Click here to see latest prices.


Painting your Office Desk


After the adhesion primer, you are ready to apply the rest of your paint system. Again, there are plenty of brilliant products you could use. Tikkurila Helmi and WRX satinwood come to mind straight away, but for this particular project I opted for Johnstone’s Aqua Guard. For this I needed to apply one undercoat, followed by two topcoats.

Aqua Guard is a fully water-based system, but it cures and sets hard. The reason I chose this paint for the desk below is its durability. I have faith that Aqua Guard will stand up well to knocks. Click here to see the latest online prices for Aqua Guard. By buying online, they can easily match any colour from a different brand’s range if you wish.

Work on one surface at a time, cut in the edges with a brush, roll the flats with a mini foam roller, then lay off with a brush. All very easy!! Just remember water-based paints can take a week or so to fully cure and become durable.

As you can see from the pictures bellow, the finish was spectacular!!


Alternative to Painting Your Office Desk for a Factory Finish?


There is another option for painting an office desk. I hand-painted the desk pictured below, but you could use a spray aerosol. Maston 2K is a multi-use 2K product that is very easy to use. It gives off a very fine spray and produces a factory finish. You can use it on any surface too.

Because this is a 2K product, it is also very durable. Just spray a quick “dust coat” of the Maston 2K primer, followed by two topcoats of the main product. Make sure you wear a mask though!! This method is quicker, easier and more durable than hand-painting

You can buy Maston online.

Painting an Office Desk – by Mike Gregory

painting a melamine office desk
a hand painted office desk in black
how to paint an office desk
a hand painted office desk in black

Updated Feb 15, 2024 | Posted May 7, 2021 | 0 comments


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