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Old 01-14-2008, 07:31 AM   #1
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Painting bare particleboard tips?


Hello,

I'm looking to build a table to match my current computer workstation table to the same dimensions, style etc. For the original table I used melamine coated particleboard, lightly sanded (not to cut past the melamine), and painted w/ latex plus a few coats of polyurethane, all water based. The board was melamine coated to begin with so no worries about water based products seeping into the fiber.

I've had the table for 2 years now and while it's stood up quite well i do notice some tiny chips here and there where the paint's got chipped off. Obviously latex + water poly isn't the way to go here (rookie mistake I know). I'm not looking for veneered plywood...I want it painted solid colors, not make it look like wood...going for more of a "modern" look. I have 2 sheets of 4x8 bare particleboard (not melamine coated) which I was planning on using for this project. I know particleboard is primarily used as a substrate...is the only way to go is get something like formica to line it with or is there any kind of primer/paint/poly combination I can use? I think a 4x8 laminate may cost quite a bit more than the 4x8 board itself so I was trying to avoid that route. I want the entire piece the same color and don't see the point of appying laminate to the sides, insides etc other than the top of the table which will get the most wear. What options do I have? I've seen some flexible laminates applied on cheap furniture like at staples/target etc but never seen that for retail sale.

Any pointers would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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Old 01-14-2008, 07:52 AM   #2
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Painting bare particleboard tips?


a 4x8 sheet of formica is something like $15, if memory serves, at HD. If you want the surface to be flat for writing on, then I'd do that. Particleboard is not an even surface, and it would take a lot of work to make it a good desk top with finishing, IMO.

If you want to avoid all the trouble, get a sheet of MDO from a lumberyard. That's very smooth. Just paint it and you're done.

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Old 01-14-2008, 07:59 AM   #3
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Painting bare particleboard tips?


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Originally Posted by NateHanson View Post
a 4x8 sheet of formica is something like $15, if memory serves, at HD. If you want the surface to be flat for writing on, then I'd do that. Particleboard is not an even surface, and it would take a lot of work to make it a good desk top with finishing, IMO.

If you want to avoid all the trouble, get a sheet of MDO from a lumberyard. That's very smooth. Just paint it and you're done.
Thanks for the quick reply. $15 for a 4x8 of formica? Retail? If that's the case I'm going that route...my cut sheet calls for 2 4x8's, so if I line on each side that's 60 bucks, no big deal.

I'm going to be building more of the same in the future so thanks for the tip on the MDO, I've never used it....is it as heavy as MDF? How do you go about finishing it? Thanks.
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Old 01-14-2008, 09:21 AM   #4
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Painting bare particleboard tips?


Home Depot sells a 4x8 sheet of 3/4" particle board with the white melamine finish on it for under $30. For a total of $30 more than the cost of formica, you can eliminate the glue and a lot of work on the 2 tops and save the sheets you already have for another project.
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Old 01-14-2008, 10:43 AM   #5
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Painting bare particleboard tips?


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Originally Posted by drone View Post
Thanks for the quick reply. $15 for a 4x8 of formica? Retail? If that's the case I'm going that route...my cut sheet calls for 2 4x8's, so if I line on each side that's 60 bucks, no big deal.

I'm going to be building more of the same in the future so thanks for the tip on the MDO, I've never used it....is it as heavy as MDF? How do you go about finishing it? Thanks.
I don't remember the formica price exactly, but it's not much.

MDO is exterior-grade plywood, lined with resin-impregnated paper on each side, and pressed very flat. It gives a perfect finish with any paint, and minimal prep. You just use something to smooth the edge grain (like a polyester filler). It costs about $50 for a 4x8x3/4. It's about the same weight as particleboard, and a good bit stronger. It holds screws a lot better. (I find particleboard a really frustrating material to work with. I prefer plywood, MDO, or even MDF over particleboard.)
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Old 01-14-2008, 08:24 PM   #6
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Painting bare particleboard tips?


The particle board is not the best choice for this project, on a few levels
One is the difficulty and expense of getting the finish you want with this material
The other is structural

I'd suggest using one of the other options posted here, or going the veneer plywood route
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Old 01-14-2008, 08:25 PM   #7
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Painting bare particleboard tips?


...I haven't even seen remnants of an even vaguely formica-like material for under $25, but that could be a regional thing I guess
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Old 01-14-2008, 09:01 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by slickshift View Post
...I haven't even seen remnants of an even vaguely formica-like material for under $25, but that could be a regional thing I guess
I may well be remembering that price wrong. it's been a good long time since I bought a sheet of formica type laminate.
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Old 01-18-2008, 11:48 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by slickshift View Post
The particle board is not the best choice for this project, on a few levels
One is the difficulty and expense of getting the finish you want with this material
The other is structural

I'd suggest using one of the other options posted here, or going the veneer plywood route

Veneered plywood isn't an option really since I'm looking for a solid color, a matte darkish grey w/ a hint of blue....I used melamine coated pboard for my computer workstation desk and haven't had problems with warping or anything, though for structural support on the top and shelves I used pboard pieces underneath, and haven't noticed any warping...and the top has held 2 very heavy 22" crt monitors which weigh a ton for over a year before I got LCD's. The design is pretty solid with lots of support, I'm just not crazy about the finish. MDF is way too heavy (I move a lot) so I'll be looking into MDO for my next projects as per the prior recommendation...I still have another project after this for my studio equipment, basically like my workstation but 63"x21" instead of 56"x21".

Formica sheets looks like they're about $50 in my area. The new piece is 56"x21" and the cut sheet for the design fits into 2 4x8's...the pboard is already bought, I'm just wondering what the best way to finish it is. If I go with laminate I can probably get swatches to find the one that best matches my original project. Since this is bare pboard, do I need to do something to the "unseen" portions like the bottom of the top and shelves? I have a 24"x96" iron on melamine roll I can use for it, but I've seen retail furniture where the pboard is bare on those parts...can't be good for moisture. If that'll work I may get by w/ 3 sheets of laminate instead of 4 (one for each side of a panel) and use the iron on for the bottoms.

Lastly, if I go the laminate route, any special tools I'd need? I have no experience w/ laminates. I have a good router and could get a good laminate bit. I want the edging black, I'm assuming iron on black edging would work w/ this? It'll all be sharp edges, no round anywhere (I'd assume you'd need forming equipment to bend laminates).

Thanks again for everyone's help.
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Old 01-19-2008, 01:45 AM   #10
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Painting bare particleboard tips?


I suspect that the glue used for lam is sealing the pboard surface. Also, pboard has quite a bit of glue or other binders in it. So, while it's not just a bunch of pourous wood waiting to absorb moisture, as time goes by, exposed surfaces will absorb moisture and chips will de-lam. Might be a good idea to seal in any bare surfaces.

In the case of a computer desk, the exposure to moisture is limited, as we all tend to keep liquids away from out computers. I'm just talking long term.

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Last edited by joewho; 01-19-2008 at 01:48 AM.
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