DIY {painting an Ikea bunkbed}

Almost exactly 3 years ago we transitioned the girls to bunkbeds. The original plan was to paint the beds, then it was to just paint stripes. I ended up simply adding washi tape stripes to the bed because we were in an overwhelming season. Painting the bed was more than I could handle at the time.

The girls have been asking to paint their beds for a couple months. They agreed on painting it ‘blue’, but the exact shade was debated. Instead of going through tons of paint samples, I picked 3 colors of paint and let the girls mix their own. It provided a great teaching moment in regards to teamwork, compromise, valuing another opinion…and color theory.

The girls wanted a light shade a of blue, so we started with 50% white and they slowly added more color until they found a shade they both liked.

My supplies:

I chose the Satin Enamel for this project for several reasons. I’ve worked with DecoArt for years, so when they asked if I would like to try the Satin Enamels…it was an easy yes. Since I was painting bunk beds, I needed durable paint that was non-toxic with a hard finish. It was also important to me that I NOT HAVE to sand the beds. I cannot imagine having to sand them. Nope.

2.16decoart-012.16decoart-03The girls started by pouring 8oz of the white and 8 oz of the True Teal. They added just a bit of the Seaside Blue. Once those were mixed, they decided they needed more white because it was a brighter blue than they had in mind.2.16decoart-042.16decoart-06I told the girls the paint always dries darker, so we did a few test spots on the slats of the bottom bunk. The final mixture was 16oz White, 8oz Teal, 4oz Seaside Blue. I did help them with the mixing a bit because I needed to know the ‘recipe’ if we had to mix more! Once the paint was ready, we began painting.2.16decoart-07My kids always want to help paint. I let them paint alongside me, but with a few things in mind they do not realize.

Here are a few of my tips:

  • Use a drop cloth
  • Let kids have a small cup for their paint and a small brush. Small brushes make less mess!
  • If they are just learning to paint, let them do an area that is hidden
  • I always paint the high traffic and highly visible areas
  • Teach them painting techniques like paint the direction of the wood grain and scrap excess paint off the brush
  • Watch what they are doing and come behind to smooth out globs of paint before it dries
  • Offer encouragement, but also instruction based on age

My eldest daughter has become quite the furniture painter. She’s practiced a lot with me over the years. She would have been happy if I surprised her by painting her bed, but she is so proud of her accomplishment mixing the paint and painting the bed herself. My younger daughter lasted about 10 minutes and she was done. It takes extra time and work to bring kids alongside DIY projects (or anything!), but it builds confidence and gives them practical skills. Totally worth the extra effort and mess.

2.16decoart-09Their room is tiny and the bunks take up almost the whole room, which makes it so difficult to get pictures of the whole bed.2.16decoart-102.16decoart-122.16decoart-132.16decoart-14Now to find my next painting project! You can find our more about DecoArt paints by clicking on the links below. I’ve partnered with DecoArt for several years as a blogger and am always so pleased with their products.


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  • jules - Great color – fabulous job girls!

  • Tiffany - No sanding and no finishing poly/wax – impressive.

  • Debbie C - I need to say “yes” to my daughter more, and worry less about mess and imperfection. Thanks for this. Question…we are looking into bunkbeds for our kids, how do you like the Ikea one? Is it pretty sturdy, holding up to jumping, etc?

  • Laurel Libby - I love the floors in the girls room, what did you use?

  • Seamingly Sarah - Great color blue!

  • Bekah Decker - They picked such a lovely shade of blue! Love it 🙂

  • Samantha - Would DecoArt work well on a dresser? We picked up a dresser on Craigslist and had plans to sand and paint it, but if I can skip the sanding that would be great. Thank you! ?

  • AshleyAnn - Samantha – the satin enamel has a hard finish, so far it seems very durable…the girls climb all over the bed. It also cleans easily. I like the chalky finish paints too, but they are harder to clean and require some kind of top coat. I’ve been pleased with it.

  • Heather Johnson - I love the color they came up with–pretty much the color I think my girls have been dreaming of! They have also been dreaming of bunk beds–and these Ikea ones have always been at the top of my list because of affordability. It looks like you put it together and then painted it–is that right? Did it take two coats? Were there areas that you did first (like perhaps the bed slats)–or how would you recommend doing it? Sorry for so many questions, I am just really intimidated by projects like this…or I guess I should say I am all in at the beginning and two hours in I don’t want to do it anymore! Maybe if I know exactly what to expect I will hang in there. Did you use the ikea mattresses as well? Thanks for the bedding post after too–I think those will be just the thing for my girls as getting them to make the beds any other way just isn’t happening!

  • Cassandra - Love this! Thanks for sharing I also have a bunkbed I’d like to paint…someday…:-)

  • Ingrid - It’s the perfect shade blue! Well done!

  • Mary-the boondocks blog - I have the same exact bed and I’ve been trying to convince my daughter to let me paint it. I think now that I will show her your bed… in her favorite color no less, I may be able to persuade her. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Soraya - Hi!

    Congrats on the paint job! It looks amazing!
    I am about to start painting my kids mydal bunk too. I’ve never done anything like that before but I am pretty handy. I’m sure it will work out fine.
    I noticed you did not prime the wood before painting so I wonder how your bed looks now after a little while. Has the paint ever chipped? How long did you let the bed “cure” before having the girls sleep on it?
    I’m actually debating whether I use a sealer or not after the paint but I’m actually going to prime it.

    Thank you and happy new year!

  • AshleyAnn - Soraya – the paint has held up awesomely! No chipping and it still looks great. I cannot stand to sand or prime things, so I’m thankful it has held up so well.