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How To Cover Ugly Laminate With Pretty Wood Veneer

Last Updated on October 6, 2012 by Kristi Linauer

[pinit count=”horizontal” url=”” image_url=”” description=”How to cover ugly laminate with pretty (stainable!) wood veneer, from Addicted 2 Decorating.” float=”left”]

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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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Matthew Iacopelli
    June 26, 2012 at 9:19 am

    This is a great & cheap to give furniture a new look. Love it! Would this work well for kitchen cabinets?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 26, 2012 at 9:40 am

    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?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 26, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Really great!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Barb T.
    June 26, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    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.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Mrs Mike
    June 26, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    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…

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Wendy R
    June 26, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    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. 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 26, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    fabulous fixup!! 😀

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 26, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    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.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 26, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    That’s one of those furniture makeovers that makes a gal go wow, great transformation!


  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Diane | An Extraordinary Day
    June 26, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Beautiful!! Your grandmother will be thrilled. The stain and paint colors are perfect!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    aimee {sixteen fourteen}
    June 27, 2012 at 5:39 am

    You did an amazing job! It looks so much better {and that was a really sweet favor to do, too!} 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jets Jewelry
    June 27, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Wonderful job. It looks good. I need to try this on some of my tables

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 27, 2012 at 11:50 am

    It looks great!!!! You did such an amazing job!!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    [email protected]
    June 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    That looks great Keisti! Thanks for sharing the step-by-step!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Mary Stack
    June 27, 2012 at 12:56 pm

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

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Marcia Greene
    June 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Rust oleum Early American; very very nice

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 29, 2012 at 1:31 am

    That doesn’t even look like veneer! Gorgeous!
    Thanks for the tutorial!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Tonya D
    June 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    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!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sofia - WinterStays
    June 29, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    What a great job you did, it looks great!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 29, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    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?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 1, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    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!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
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    July 4, 2012 at 8:30 am

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Centsational Girl » Blog Archive » BOTB 7.8.12
    July 8, 2012 at 7:00 am

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 8, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Fantastic work! The trim really makes the piece look sharp.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June @ Coffee Under The Umbrella
    July 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Oh, wow, I had never thought to use wood veneer to cover ugly laminate, and I would’ve never guessed by the picture that you went through all that. Really resourceful and looks great!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 9, 2012 at 10:49 am

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


  • Reply To This Comment ↓
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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm

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

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    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!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    November 2, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    I’m amazed at how awesome that turned out! I’m pinning this for future reference. Thanks for the instructions 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Bruce Johnson
    July 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Very nice project, Kristi. Always a good idea to finish a project like this off with a little Minwax Paste Finishing Wax. It looks great.


    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      June 9, 2016 at 11:08 am

      “Then I waxed the entire thing with Minwax wax.” Bruce and Kristi, What is the purpose of this?

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        June 12, 2016 at 6:34 pm

        The wax seals the wood to protect it against wear and stains, kind of like polyurethane but not as durable.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Marcia Perry
    January 6, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    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!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Maria M
    January 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    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!! 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 6, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Gorgeous!! I LOVE it!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    November 4, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    I know that this post is 4 years old, but do you remember what type of trim that you used? Could I use the same to finish a plywood table top? I like the finished edge it gives.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    February 27, 2018 at 9:35 pm

    This is amazing!!
    Which wood veneer from Wood-All did you use? Is it their “uniformwood white oak”? I’d like to buy the one you used for your project 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    September 27, 2018 at 8:27 am

    Do you remember what kind of wood the veneer was? I love that grain and the way the stain colored it. Do you think this would be durable enough to put over laminate kitchen counters to create a wood kitchen counter look? Thanks!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      September 27, 2018 at 8:29 am

      I don’t remember what kind of wood it was, but it was way too soft to be used on a kitchen countertop. It was fine for a side table or something that doesn’t get daily use, but I’d select something other than a wood veneer for a kitchen countertop.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    July 5, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    This is so clever! I’m going to use some of these tricks to refinish a desk i just thrifted