Published on January 19th, 2012 | by Jules Yap


Hacker help: Refinishing an Expedit Shelving Unit

Expedit bookcase

Description: Does anyone know if the Expedit bookcase can be refinished (painted or stained)? I haven’t seen anything on the site yet.

~ Kayla

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Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

21 Responses to Hacker help: Refinishing an Expedit Shelving Unit

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’ve painted mine (4×4), after I used primer. years later, it still looks great! I also glued little spots (similar to INREDA) in the top 4 ‘compartments’ (cables are practically invisible) and attached wheels underneath the whole thing as to make it easier to move it if I want to : )

    • Wheels on an EXPEDIT 4×4? Is that possible, cos IKEA themselves don’t recommend that, they only show the wheel-set accessory (on their site) as available for the 2×4 or the 2×2 units, not the 4×4 or the 5×5. How can you accommodate those wheel units, what’s the spacing between them?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Anyone trying to paint their Expedits should find this helpful: http://www.centsationalgirl.com/2010/04/go-right-ahead-and-paint-that-laminate/

  3. Dawn says:

    I have painted mine, and I highly agree that the number one thing is sanding first. No matter how good the primer is, it will still peel off that laminated surface. You don’t have to sand the white off, just knock the shine off, and give the primer something to adhere to. I have a Black n Decker mouse sander (cheap at big box stores) and that helped with all the angles of the Expedit. Have fun!

  4. Briconatur says:

    Es otra manera de trabajar con los muebles de IKEA. Nostros hemos hackeado algunos. Si quieres puedes verlos en http://www.briconatur.com
    Muchas gracias.

  5. FrkSol says:

    haven’t tried painting or staining, but I can highly recommend wallpapering/decoupaging!
    I have used this on 20+ items (expedit/lack/billy) and it is SO easy to work with.
    Just sand lightly, apply glue to wallpaper (cut to measure) apply, let dry, varnish)

    A few years ago, I wallpapered some lack tables for a busy lounge/reception area, and now, 2 years down the line, they still look great!

    Go for it, experiment! ;-)

  6. Helen Tragea says:

    Hi! this summer I bought a small expedit unit in white. I really wanted it o be gray. I sanded it down, I used a primer, sanded the primer a bit and then painted regularly.It worked just fine.

  7. moses says:

    I’m not sure how the surface material of the Expedit in birch compares to the (discontinued) Bonde stuff, but if it’s similar, you may be able to carefully stain it. Search this site for “big screen bonde” to see how I stained my birch Bonde to a color a couple shades darker than the beech color they used to offer in many things.

  8. Prime with great primer first, then you can paint them. They will look the best if you use oil based primer and paint, but those are yucky to work with.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I just finished painting a 5×5 expedit, which took FOREVER, but turned out beautifully. I started with Zinsser BIN Primer (http://www.epinions.com/Paint-Zinsser_Qt_Bin_Primer_Sealer/display_~reviews) and did two coats of that. Then I used a high gloss enamel paint, which helped to eliminate brush lines. Between primer and paint I sanded, and then did a second coat in some of the more prominent areas (sides and front of the unit.)

    I did most of the work before assembling the unit, which helped get even coverage, but definitely extended the time the project took. I think if I did it again, I would still do it this way because it turned out so well in the end.

    Good luck!

    • Kristen says:

      One tip: its is vitally important to sand to ruff up the surface before painting. Even with BIN primer. I learned the hard way, and had to take off primer, sand and re-prime. Sand and clean before priming! And I agree, it is a long process.

    • Christopher says:

      You shouldn’t sand anything that contains ABS plastic. That is extremely dangerous to your health.

  10. Anonymous says:

    You can paint if you start with a high adhesion primer.

  11. Anonymous says:

    +1 on paint over stain. It’s a thin, probably vinyl laminate on the piece. If you need an out-of-view test piece then use whatever will be on the floor/bottom.

    Theoretically you could probably just add a proper wood veneer and finish that, either gluing it to the existing veneer directly or chipping off the veneer to reveal whatever hides beneath it.

  12. Travis says:

    Stain won’t work but paint should work well. You may want to use an additive to thin the paint so the brush or roller marks aren’t as apparent on the smooth laminate. Make sure you post the result!

  13. Anonymous says:

    I would say buy one of the smaller versions as a test piece, but I think a good primer or de-glosser and primer should do the trick in order to paint. I would guess stain would be a difficult thing since it’s probably not real wood.

  14. Mike says:

    Just go to the Search box top left of this page and put in “expedit painted” – dozens of hits!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I recently painted mine and was very happy with the results. I used a sealing/stain killing primer first, and then latex paint.

  16. jn says:

    I’m not an expert, but my conversations at the paint store have convinced me that almost anything can be painted as long as you do the proper primer first. Go talk to them and they will know what to use (or if no primer is necessary in this case).

  17. Anonymous says:

    They can be painted, but the composite is covered with a laminate, so you can’t stain it.

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