Category Archives: Crafts

How to Paint the IKEA Kura Bed

(I have some old posts I have been unable to move to this new site. Please pardon the virtual dust and the fairly plain blog for the time being!)

My two boys share a tiny room on the second floor of a house with sloped Cape Cod ceilings. Which works very well when you have a three year old in a toddler bed and a 1.5 year old in a crib. However, when your older son starts to complain his bed is too small (might have something to do with the 5-10 books he sleeps with each night…) and then you hear him (on the monitor) telling his little brother that he (little brother) sleeps in jail (i.e. crib)… You start to think maybe it’s time to improve the bed situation.

The challenges in their room are the size (TINY) and the sloped ceiling (which starts to slope at 54-55″). Two twin beds are out of the question, they would barely fit. One shared full bed? I’m certain there wouldn’t be much sleeping going on.  So, the best option for my boys was the Kura Bed from IKEA.  Older son on the top, younger son on the bottom.

IKEA Kura Bed

Now, let’s be clear…  I am fully aware that IKEA advertises this bed as either a low bed or a high bed (loft).  Not a bunk bed.  However, in theory, if it is used as a loft bed with a play space underneath, it is (in my opinion) just as safe to have a child sleep under it.  Additionally, IKEA advertises the top as being for 6 years of age and older.  My three year old sleeps on a regular bed that is this tall (with bed rails) at his Nana’s house, so I am not concerned about the height.  He is a very cautious boy and I don’t even think he would consider any daredevil moves on the top bunk.  I am also aware that there potential issues with putting a mattress directly on the floor.  The main issue being moisture and mold.  We encase our mattresses in waterproof/bug proof covers, so mold is rather unlikely in this situation, but if you flip the mattress up once a week or so to let it breathe, there shouldn’t be any issues. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on…

Before embarking on this project, I did a lot of researching, pinning, and planning.  I determined that I needed to paint this bed white because… Well, I love the color white.  It’s my favorite color.  Plus, all the other furniture in the room is white (and coincidentally from IKEA) and I suspected the wood color of the bed wouldn’t look great with the color of our old wood floors.  Once I made the decision to paint,  I specifically researched whether or not to sand and what type of paint to use.  Some people sanded, some claimed you didn’t need to, and some said you could use primer instead.  Some used spray paint and some used regular paint.

Working backwards with my decisions, I decided to use regular paint.  I personally am not a huge fan of spray paint for several reasons — It’s messy, it has to be done outside (for ventilation reasons, plus I don’t have a large enough space in my house to spray where I’m not worried about overspray ending up on my floors or walls), and honestly I’m just not great at spraying without getting any drips.  To make things easy, I grabbed one of the white panels and one of the wood pieces from the IKEA box, took it to the hardware store, went to the paint counter and said, “Hey, I need to paint this wood and I need it to be exactly this shade of white.  What do you recommend?”  Maybe there’s a better way to do it, but it all worked out.  He helped me select a paint with a primer built in, color matched it to the white panel using that fancy color matching machine they have, and presto, I had a gallon of paint in the perfect white shade.

A few notes.  YOU DON’T NEED A GALLON.  You should only need two thin coats on everything if you are painting it white, and when I was finished I had not even used one quarter of the gallon.  I honestly think you can get by with a quart if you paint two thin coats.  Also, please consider that ALL WHITE IS NOT THE SAME.  That’s right, you can’t just go buy any old white paint and have it match the panel.  Now, that may not bother you, but if you are like me and you see the tiniest variances in color… go through the trouble of hauling that panel in with you to get it color matched so you can get the white paint as close as possible to the panel color.

(Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect on what a wonderful thing it is that the panels are no longer blue.  THANK YOU IKEA.)

blue panel Kura Bed

Seriously.  What a pain if I had to paint the panels too… Moving on!

Eager to start, I tested the paint out on the wood pieces without sanding them.  After drying, it scratched right off.  I had some fine grit paper handy, so I roughed up the clear coat finish and then painted.  It still scratched off a bit.  So, I decided it was time to pull out the big guns.  Coarse grit sand paper.  Now, I used 60 grit because that is what I had handy, but I think 80 would work fine as well.  My final verdict on the not-sanding vs. must-sanding debate: sand. Sand all of that clear coat off of the wood.  All of it.  If you want to follow up after the coarse sand paper with a fine grit to smooth it out, be my guest — but after 4 hours of sanding in 85-90 degree heat with a mask over my face, I didn’t want to look at anymore sandpaper.

Sanding IKEA Kura Bed

I highly recommend using a sanding block like this, makes the job much easier.  (Un-sanded wood on the top, sanded wood on the bottom of the photo.)

After sanding, I covered my dining table with a drop cloth (because who actually eats at their dining table… its for crafting, right?) and laid out all of the pieces.  Time to paint.

Now let me introduce you to the roller you NEED to do the painting with.


Go to Lowe’s and get this roller — it’s called the WHIZZ Sample and Touch Up Mini Roller Kit.  It is the PERFECT width to paint the sides of the wood pieces of the Kura Bed.  Trust me, totally worth the $2-3 splurge even if you already own approximately 87 paint brushes and 26 paint rollers.  (But who’s counting?!)

Paint one coat on each piece on the first side, let dry 1-2 hours, paint a second coat on that same side, let dry several more hours (overnight), and then turn all the pieces to the second side.  Repeat with two coats on each side.  This roller will make such quick, neat work of the painting.  Keep it fairly dry and make the coats thin to avoid drips.  The roller will even get the paint on the beveled corners without any extra work.


(Barefoot late-night painting.  And look at that beautiful little roller… did I mention its perfect for painting this bed?)

Now all thats left is assembly.  If you were smart, you noticed while painting that five of the pieces had numbers on them and you transcribed the numbers into one of the little holes/indents in the side of piece where they wouldn’t get painted over.  Definitely do that, it will help with assembly.  I didn’t notice until I had painted over two of the numbers.  Oops.

Get yourself a helper for assembly.  Preferably another adult as there are several steps that are best with two tall-ish strong-ish people (i.e. someone over the age of 3 or 4…), but sometimes you have to take what you can get…

My Helper

Safety first, people.

After 1-2 hours and hopefully not too many injuries (I only got two bruises and bumped my head three times), you will have a beautiful painted Kura Bed.

White Painted IKEA Kura Bed

So white.  So lovely.

(More photos of the finished room to come… Once it is finished!)

Thanks for sticking with me through that lengthy description/tutorial.  Short version?

Buy IKEA Kura Bed, color match paint to white panels, sand with coarse grit paper, paint with this awesome tiny roller, assemble.  Done.