How to Fix Chipped or Scratched<br />
Particleboard Furniture With Paint

Mask off the sanded area you want to paint with painter’s tape. If you’re worried about making a mess, use the tape and some newspaper to cover the rest of the item or the floor. When painting over the now-filled chip or scratches, use strokes running in the same direction as the chip or scratches. Don’t paint from side to side. Make sure to use thin coats to build up the paint to the desired colour and finish. Don’t try to rush the job with thick blobs of paint. Allow the layers to dry before applying the next one, as this will help you get a better idea of how the colours will ultimately look and match. You can use a technique called ‘feathering’ to help you blend the fresh paint with the existing coat in a seamless way. While applying only very light pressure, gently spread the new paint over the old paint in short but controlled strokes. Once you’ve painted over all the chips and scratches and the paint is dry, you can remove the painter’s tape and return the now-refreshed item to its rightful place in your home. Be careful not to whack it on the way back… 

Particleboard, also called chipboard or low-density fiberboard, is a wonderful material for those decorating or furnishing their homes on a tight budget. While it certainly doesn’t have the appeal of mahogany or rosewood, it offers exceptional versatility and cost-effectiveness in a huge variety of applications. It’s aesthetically flexible, meaning you can find particleboard in a variety of finishes (veneered, laminated, or painted) light in weight, offers decent sound and thermal insulation, and is an efficient use of wood material that might otherwise be considered waste.

One thing that particleboard furniture isn’t known for is its strength and durability. Accidentally dropping a particleboard furniture item or even the careless swing of a heavy coffee mug could be all it takes to take a chunk out or leave it chipped or scratched. While you might have congratulated yourself on your good value-for-money purchase at the time, you’ll quickly find yourself resenting a now-unsightly piece of furniture that catches your eye every time you glance in that direction.

Luckily, small chips or scratches in particleboard can easily be repaired in less time and with less effort than you might think. All you need are a few easily available tools, a splash of paint, and a bit of free time to have your particleboard furniture looking like the day you bought it.

This article will cover everything you need to know about fixing minor chips or scratches in painted particleboard furniture. Please note that this is not a guide to repainting entire particleboard furniture items, nor do we cover fixing damaged veneer or laminate on particleboard. 

 

Step 1: Evaluate the damage and gather supplies

The first step is getting a good look at exactly what you’ll be repairing. We recommend taking a look around the house at the same time; who knows, you might find other particleboard furniture to spruce up at the same time. The most important thing to evaluate is whether or not your chip or scratch will need a filler material. A good rule of thumb is that chips or scratches deeper than 3 mm should be filled, as a layer of paint might not cut it, leaving the repair job visible. When you’re checking out the damage, make sure to remove any particles or fibres barely hanging on, or use cyanoacrylate (superglue) to glue them back in place before painting over them later.

If your chips or scratches are only surface level, you won’t need much more than medium- to fine-grit sandpaper (180 to 220 is fine), paint in the right shade and colour to match your furniture (semi-gloss oil-based enamel paint is very common on particleboard), and a set of brushes to apply the paint. Typically, small art brushes or foam brushes will do the trick for furniture. Painter’s tape and some old newspaper can help prevent accidentally painting over or dripping paint on things that don’t need it.

If your chips and scratches are substantial and you have to fill them up before painting, add an epoxy resin wood filler to the list. Make sure to get one with an applicator to make the job easier.

Pro tip: While you could easily order all of these items online, we strongly recommend buying them in-store to ensure you get the right shade of paint. If the furniture is too heavy to take to the hardware store with you, take photos of it and the areas to be repaired in natural light to compare to the paints in-store.

 

Step 2: Clean and prepare the area for painting

Paint doesn’t stick to dust. Make sure that the area to be painted is clean and dust-free. Wiping the area with a damp rag and letting it dry completely will do the trick. If at all possible, try working outside or in a well-ventilated area. It’ll minimise any potential spill damage, allow everything that needs to dry to dry faster, and protect you from any harmful or foul-smelling paints.

If you need to fill in any gaps in the material with the epoxy wood filler, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and do it. While some guides recommend sanding down the chipped area, we find that it really isn’t necessary as the filler sticks better to rough surfaces, and particleboard is plenty rough. Just make sure that the chips you’re filling in don’t have any loose or dangling fibres in them before you start. Allow to dry as per the instructions on the packaging.

Once the filler material is dry, sand it down using the sandpaper to create a smooth and even surface that is flush with the rest of the item. Make sure to wipe away any dust after sanding the item. If you’re only painting over minor scratches that don’t need filler, lightly sand the scratches along their length. This will create a good surface for the paint to stick to, ensuring a long-lasting and almost invisible fix (assuming you apply the paint correctly).

 

Step 3: Apply the paint

 

Mask off the sanded area you want to paint with painter’s tape. If you’re worried about making a mess, use the tape and some newspaper to cover the rest of the item or the floor.

When painting over the now-filled chip or scratches, use strokes running in the same direction as the chip or scratches. Don’t paint from side to side. Make sure to use thin coats to build up the paint to the desired colour and finish. Don’t try to rush the job with thick blobs of paint. Allow the layers to dry before applying the next one, as this will help you get a better idea of how the colours will ultimately look and match. You can use a technique called ‘feathering’ to help you blend the fresh paint with the existing coat in a seamless way. While applying only very light pressure, gently spread the new paint over the old paint in short but controlled strokes.

Once you’ve painted over all the chips and scratches and the paint is dry, you can remove the painter’s tape and return the now-refreshed item to its rightful place in your home. Be careful not to whack it on the way back…

When to leave it to the pros

While repairing minor chips or scratches in painted particleboard furniture clearly isn’t the most challenging of DIY tasks, there are times when it’s best left to the professionals. When a beloved and irreplaceable piece of furniture has suffered much abuse and the chips are deeper than ⅓ of the width of the board, when the chips affect the stability of the furniture, the item is water-damaged, or if you simply don’t have the time to tend to it yourself, contact the surface repair experts at WeRestoreSurfaces.

Our experienced team of surface repair experts has the skills, tools, and know-how to tackle any surface repair job and can even help you decide whether it is better to restore or replace.

 

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