Laminate is an excellent affordable alternative to solid wood furniture. Unfortunately, it can get damaged quite easily. Chips, dents, and peeling edges make the furniture look very scruffy, but can you fix it?
If you have experienced this problem, you may be wondering whether you can use wood filler to fix it. This article will tell you everything you need to know about using wood filler on laminate furniture so that you can bring it back to life.
Can You Use Wood Filler on Laminate Furniture?
Yes, you can use wood filler to repair laminate furniture. However, only certain types of filler will give you good results. You want something that spreads easily and dries very hard. It also needs to adhere to the surface as best as possible.
The filler needs to get into the small gaps in the damaged laminate and form a smooth seal over the top. If you use filler that is too thick, it can form clumps, and it’s difficult to get the finish that you need to hide the damage.
What’s the Best Type of Wood Filler for Laminate Furniture?
Latex fillers are a good choice for laminate furniture, and two-part fillers tend to be better than ready-to-use products. Vinyl fillers work well too because they are very pliable and easy to spread, so they’re a bit more forgiving if you are inexperienced.
Bondo Wood Filler is the best choice for laminate furniture as it adheres very well and is incredibly durable once dried.
Before you start applying the filler, you should always test it out on a scrap piece of wood. This will give you a sense of how it handles, so when you repair the laminate, you can get a nice smooth application.
How to Apply Wood Filler to Chipped Laminate Furniture?
1. Clean the Area
Start by cleaning the furniture to remove any dirt and grease. If the surface is not completely clean when you apply the filler, it will not bond properly.
Use a tough degreaser like Krud Cutter for old furniture. All you need to do is spray it on, leave it for 2 minutes, and then wipe it down with a damp cloth. Finish by wiping it down again with some water to ensure that all of the cleaner is washed away. Give it some time to dry before you move on to the next step.
2. Lightly Sand the Area
Scuffing the area that needs to be repaired will help the filler bond properly. Take 220 grit sandpaper and lightly sand the surrounding area. Don’t be too rough because you can easily take off more of the laminate if you catch the edges. You are only looking to scuff the area that needs filler to create a good adhering surface, which shouldn’t take long.
3. Remove Sand Dust
This step is crucial because any leftover sanding dust will mix with the filler and cause adhering issues, stopping it from bonding properly. Take a damp cloth and wipe the furniture down to collect any leftover dust. You can also use an old paintbrush to clear it away or my favorite is a tack cloth.
4. Apply the Filler
Now it’s time to apply the filler. Mix it up according to the guidelines on the tub and make sure to give it a good stir. You need to distribute the hardener evenly and get rid of any air bubbles. Any leftover air bubbles will come out when you sand the filler and you will need to go over those areas again.
Spread a good layer of filler over the damaged area, covering all of the dents and chipped laminate. You want to go quite a way beyond the damaged area, covering a large portion, so everything is secured. If you don’t apply enough filler, the laminate will easily get damaged again.
It’s best to overfill the area so you can sand it back and get it completely flush with the wood. If the laminate has a wood grain effect, you can use a razor blade to mimic this in the filler. Just work gently and don’t apply too much pressure or the lines will be too thick.
5. Give it Time to Dry
When you are happy with the coverage, let the filler dry. The drying times vary depending on the filler, but they will usually be dry in about an hour. However, you should leave it for longer before you start sanding it back. If possible, leave it overnight so you can be sure that it’s dry. Trying to sand it when it is still slightly wet will cause a big mess and you will have to start over.
6. Sand it Flush
Finally, sand back the filler until it is flush with the rest of the wood and the chips and dents are no longer visible. A 220 grit sandpaper works well here. Be patient, especially if you overfilled the area, because it can take a while to get it flush again.
Bear in mind that you may still have some dents and chips after sanding back the filler. You might have some small air bubbles too. In some cases, you may need to use multiple layers of filler before you get a completely flat surface. When you are happy, you can match the color to blend the repair in.
How Do You Get the Filler Color to Match the Laminate Color?
Once the filler is dried and you have a nice smooth surface to work with, you can start matching the color. Most wood fillers can be painted or stained.
Gel stains, in particular, are the best for laminate pieces. A gel stain sits on top of the surface while a standard stain sinks in. So, gel stains give you a better coverage over the top of the filler, and you get an even color. If you are using wood fillers that are putty-like, such as Bondo or plastic fillers, these will not absorb standard wood stain, so gel stain is the better stain type option.
If you are going to paint the furniture, it’s a good idea to use a primer on the filler first. I will use a Rustoleum spray primer or BIN Shellac-based primer, which is the most popular option when painting laminate furniture. This prevents issues with bleeding through and helps you get an even color with fewer coats.
What’s the Difference Between Laminate and Veneer?
Laminate and veneer are often used as interchangeable terms, but even though they are similar, they are not the same thing. Both laminate and veneer are thin coats of material that go over the top of solid wood, creating a nice surface. However, there is a key difference.
Veneer is made from real hardwood, cut very thin, and stuck onto the furniture. Laminate, on the other hand, is an artificial material. It is typically made to look like wood, but it is not real wood.
Although they are different, both laminate and veneer furniture can be repaired in the same way when they become chipped. However, veneer is often easier as it is real wood and matching stains is found to be easier in my opinion.
What to Do if Laminate is Peeling off Furniture?
Peeling is a common problem with laminate furniture. Once an edge comes up, it will keep peeling away unless you do something about it. The good news is, that you can fix it if you act early.
When you first notice peeling, you can use superglue to stick it back down before it gets worse. A small filler repair around the edge where it is coming up will help stop it from peeling again in the future.
Sometimes, the laminate doesn’t peel from the edge. Instead, you get a bubble that forms in the middle and it starts peeling up from there. This is often caused by excess moisture and humidity. You can use a heat gun to gently heat the bubble (be careful not to burn the laminate) and then weigh it down with something to get it to stick back to the wood. This doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try on smaller bubbles. Sometimes you can poke a tiny hole in the bubble and add some glue, then press it down with a book or something similar.
If the peeling is really bad and you don’t think you can salvage it, you could try pulling the rest of it off and then painting the furniture underneath. It’s not ideal, but it’s the best you can do if the laminate is severely damaged.
Can You Use Epoxy to Repair Damaged Laminate Furniture?
Yes, epoxy resin is an excellent option for repairing laminate furniture. It bonds well to most surfaces, it’s great at filling gaps, and it is very durable. It’s also waterproof, so if you’re working with outdoor furniture, it’s the perfect choice.
You can get some excellent epoxy putty that is ideal for fixing chipped laminate furniture, even in areas where there is a lot of laminate missing. The KwikWood Epoxy Stick is one of the best options on the market. It is a two-part epoxy stick that you can mix by kneading the two parts of the putty together. Then, you just need to press it into the area and use a wet putty knife to smooth it over. You can use a wet finger if the area is a bit tricky too. Once it has hardened, you can sand it and paint it like filler.
Damaged laminate looks awful, and most people assume that they can’t do anything about it. But if you use filler to smooth over the area and then sand it and use a gel stain, you can bring it back to life. Just make sure to use the right filler and always do a small test patch on scrap wood first. Good luck with your project and feel free to reach out to me to ask questions.