How To Cover Ugly Laminate With Pretty Wood Veneer

Last week, I was tasked with turning this very rough-looking-but-potentially-pretty cabinet into something nice that my grandmother could use to place a little microwave on in her kitchen.

The body of the cabinet was wood, so I knew that it could be cleaned up and painted, and it would look great.  However, the top was another story.  It had been covered with laminate (with a seam right down the middle), and it was looking very rough.

I thought about replacing the top completely with thick plywood, but try as I might, I couldn’t get this top off.  So my mom remembered that I had a roll of wood veneer in my storage, and suggested that I use that directly on top of the laminate top.  It was a great suggestion, and it worked perfectly!

The brand of wood veneer that I have is called Wood-All, and it’s available through their Amazon store.  I use the kind that’s called “PSA-backed” because it comes with a super strong adhesive back, and it’s really simple to use.  (No messing with messy adhesives and long drying times.)

I first cut a piece of veneer that was about 2 inches longer and 2 inches wider than the top of the cabinet.  Then on one side, I peeled back the paper backing about six inches.

Next I carefully lined up the veneer on one side of the cabinet top, making sure that it was as straight as possible.

When the one edge was correctly placed on the cabinet top, I slowly began to peel the rest of the paper backing with my left hand, and I firmly pressed the veneer to the top with my right hand.

When the veneer was firmly in place, I used a very sharp X-acto knife to trim the edges.  This sounds easier than it really is.  The knife will have a tendency to follow the grain of the wood exactly, which isn’t necessarily perfectly straight against the edge of the cabinet top, so you have to go very slowly and make very deliberate and precise cuts.

Cutting against the grain is the hardest.  I generally find it’s easiest to make an initial rough cut just to get most of the excess veneer out of the way, and then go back to do precision cuts in small increments.

After the veneer was trimmed all the way around, I used my miter saw to cut pieces of trim to go around the edges.  I used this type of trim because it gives the illusion of an ogee edge, but you could also use iron-on edge banding or plain wood trim.  I used a combination of wood glue and a brad nailer to attach the edge trim.

Next, I filled all of the gaps with wood filler…

…and then used my electric sander to sand it perfectly smooth on top.  Of course, any areas that I filled on the trim had to be sanded by hand.  I used a 150-grit sandpaper to sand the top and the trim.

It was then ready for stain!

I’m very pleased with how it turned out, and I love how easy-to-use the adhesive-backed wood veneer is.

I stained the top with Rust-Oleum Early American, and then I painted the body of the cabinet with Behr paint in an eggshell finish in a very subtle grayish green color.  Then I waxed the entire thing with Minwax wax.



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  1. says

    Nicely done, madam. I have a roll of wood veneer in my garage, but it doesn’t have the adhesive backing. I have no idea what to glue it down with other than wood glue. any suggestions?

  2. Barb T. says

    Spectacular job! That really turned out nicely. Now I feel like I have another tool in my toolbox. Adhesive-backed veneer….who knew! Thanks for sharing.

  3. says

    It looks great!! Makes we wonder how practical this would be to ‘refinish’ my dining room table, which has a paper think coat of veneer (and is now peeling since it takes abuse from four kiddo’s) and looks horrible, but is otherwise a solid piece…

  4. Wendy R says

    What a cute little cabinet and great job on updating it too. I haven’t ever worked with veneer. I might just try it now. It looks pretty easy to use. :)

  5. says

    Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial. I’ve never used veneer before and would love to use it to repair a few pieces where veneer has peeled off.

  6. Mary Stack says

    This is beautiful. Veneer always scares me – but you have made this look so easy and painless. Thanks for posting!
    Mary :)

  7. says

    This looks fantastic! I’m going to try this on some furniture that I want to refinish. My sons dresser will be the first experiment. Wish me luck and again… great job!

  8. says

    Oh my goodness that looks amazing! I have always veered away from veneers, mainly because of how they peel after years of use. This tutorial makes it look so easy! I have a dresser that needs to be refinished but it’s currently covered in peeling veneer. Do you have much experience in removing it? Any tips?

  9. says

    That is simply beautiful! Thank you for sharing what you did to help the rest of us out if we need that solution! It turned out great. Bet Grandma loves it!

  10. amy says

    Here from centsational girl – BOTB. You did a terrific job! Love what you did with the top! Very creative.


  11. Katie says

    It looks amazing!!! Wow! Great job!! I really love the green gray paint color you used also! What color is it exactly?

  12. Gladys says

    This looks amazing!! You did a wonderful job. I’ve been looking everywhere for a tutorial on wood veneer and it seems everyone finds furniture with perfect bones and perfect finish. =o)
    From the pictures the top looks so smooth – did you have any trouble staining the wood filler?
    I have a table top that has some small chips in the veneer, and instead of replacing the whole sheet I though I would just fill it in with filler – but I’m worried that it won’t take the color the same way.
    Any thoughts/advice/tips? I also found a site that said I could use veneer edging tape to fill it in – but I’m just worried that since it’s a table top it’ll be really obvious.
    Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks in advance!

  13. Marcia Perry says

    I’ve got an adorable wood table with an atrocious laminate top that I was just about to get rid of. There may be hope for it yet!

  14. Maria M says

    Awesome! I have a dresser and vanity that needs their side veneers replaced. Putting the projects on my 2014 to do list. Thank you for encouraging us to DIY!! :)

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