Painting An Ikea Malm Desk – A DIY Novice

I wanted my oak veneer, Ikea Malm desk to be white. The problem is, the current style of Malm desk that Ikea offer, is different to the one I have. I have scoured the internet for a second hand one, but no luck.


So, the only other option was to paint it myself. But, I’ve never done anything like this before. Online guides suggested a few different steps and and some gave stages that others didn’t. In the end, I just took the plunge with the basic materials that I had.

If I can do it, so can you.


Make sure you cover your floor/surfaces with a dust sheet, these are really cheap to buy.

1.Many other guides recommended sanding first. I didn’t because I quite like the wood grain effect. But if you want it completely smooth, then you need to do this first.

2. Next, you have to undercoat. This is because the lacquered finish rejects the water based paint without an undercoat. I used Dulux Professional Undercoat Paint in Brilliant White, for wood and metal. I had a 750ml pot and used about a third of it. I recommend starting underneath the desk, because I didn’t and when I came to do under, I got my hair stuck on the painted edges (I told you I was a novice!).


A few tips for undercoat that I wish I’d known before I started!:

  • This stuff stinks! It will linger in your house for days, so open every window and wear a mask when applying.
  • It’s oil based, so has to be cleaned with white spirit. This includes off your hands. So wear gloves! If like me you didn’t and you don’t have white spirit, I found that cooking oil mixed with washing up liquid helped to clean off my skin. Sadly, the brush had to be chucked!
  • Leave overnight to fully dry before moving onto step 3.

3. Now for the first coat! I used Dulux Quick Dry Satin Wood Paint in Pure Brilliant White, for wood and metal. Although quick dry, it needs to be left for 6 hours between coats. At this point, I was quite worried about the final product, as you can see it’s quite patchy. But a second coat fixed that.


4. Complete your second coat leave to dry.


Throughout the process, I kept the room ventilated and for a few days after, before the smell fully went.


5. Finally, you should varnish to seal the paint and protect it from dust and dirt.


I then used sticky back plastic to add the final touches!



Read all about buying your first home here!

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