A Primer In Pegboard Preparation

September 16, 2011   //  Posted in: DIY, Office Space, Tools   //  By: Emily   //  14 responses

I have this half-fleshed-out plan to use a pegboard in the office as an alternative to using the more expected cork board, whiteboard, or chalk board for utility.

Remember, I’m only half-way there and in foreign, holey waters. And that’s not to be confused with holy water. Just confused, period.

Lots of pegboard holes to paint. Lots of confusion. I’ve seen the material used in several very cool organizational applications recently, some of which I’d love to share here eventually, but I’m taking that inspiration and figuring out a way to make it work in a non-workbench setting. The plan in my mind would be for it to be installed above the desk, overhanging each edge to serve as a multi-functional office piece-slash-backdrop for wall decor.

Think: 2′ x 8′ in dimension. Extending right in front of your face while you sit and work.

First things first: Find pegboard.

My searches for second-hand pegboard led me to believe that almost all previously used pegboard was dirty and overpriced, so I decided to buy new. At Lowe’s. It was notably less expensive than the boards sold at Home Depot, and (in my local stores at least) also came in a not-already-finished-in-white option, which is only important because I wasn’t sure if the glossier, pre-finished white would be harder to paint. And I wanted to paint it. Plus, the pre-finished variety cost more.

One factoid: It was surprising to learn how economical it is to buy pegboard in sheets so big that that you imagine only having been able to find them at Sam’s Club. I was going to buy two 2’x4′ panels for a total of $9 and match them up in the center, but a single uncut 4’x8′ panel of pegboard cost $10. Do some math. That’s almost twice as much pegboard for $1 extra. And, once I had the friendly guys at Lowe’s cut the board right down the middle length-wise, I had two 2’x8′ pegboards, which is just what I wanted, and seamless too, and also fit easily into the back of the Jeep without being forced all bendy. Plus, now we’ve got this whole bonus sheet of pegboard for another project (we’re thinking basement or garage traditional, practical storage in due time).

Big ol' piece of pegboard. Half of the 4'x8' sheet, equivalent to $5. Next: How the heck do you paint pegboard?

Yes, so the plain, unfinished board needed something. I was glad to be working with a clean surface, which I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten second-hand. I was mostly concerned about how I would properly prime and paint it thoroughly.

Q-tips covered in paint, maybe that would get me into each of the little holes easily?

Holes. Lots of holes. A traditional paintbrush definitely wasn’t going to do because those holes were bound to get clogged like teenage pores (sorry for forcing that visual), and I couldn’t quite see myself hand-painting 3,220 individual holes with an artists brush (because in all honesty, I’d lose interest after the first 100 and the next 3,120 would end up looking like a kindergarten class took over the job).

Yeah, basic math tells me that there really are 3,220 holes in my single 2’x8′ sheet. Wow.

The better answer? The paint sprayer. It was something that neither Pete or I had never used before, but was high on my list of tools-to-try. Pete claims to have bought it on the cheap at Harbor Freight many, many moons ago, but never took it out of the box or had a reason to use it. Until now. When I came home with a lot of pegboard. And told him I planned to paint it. The gun is no high-quality model, but it’s perfect for my little test.

Harbor Freight spray gun. Let's see how this baby rolls. I’m working through another project that you’re bound to see next week that required me to search out and purchase a gallon of high-adhesion primer, so I figured I should try it out on the pegboard too; after all, I would definitely need the paint to adhere nicely to the board.

Smart Prime, a high-adhesion primer. Setting the pegboard on cement blocks and recycled cardboard signs from our garage sale kept the edge of the board out of the grass, and leaning it against a set of sawhorses let me operate the sprayer in an upright position. It was a breezy day and I pulled everything into the center of the yard, including the pancake compressor via extension cords so I didn’t accidentally spray down the house. Or deck. Or the tomatoes.

Spray gun painting setup. The spray gun itself worked pretty easily right from the get-go. In hindsight, we should have practiced with the settings of the gun beforehand with water in the tank, but we learned gradually as we went on what intensity and direction the paint was spraying. The primer didn’t require much dilution; only about 1 oz. of water was added to thin it out well enough to achieve an even stream. I was being sensitive to the fact that the formula was high-adhesion – I didn’t want to chance weakening it.

I was clearly very focused in this photo, even though I sort of look like I’m sleeping. Or bored. A surprise shot by Pete out of my line of sight, since I’m usually the one workin’ the camera. Thanks dude.

Spray priming the pegboard. Remember, this was just primer that we were applying before we pick paint colors, so as long as it was reasonably even, not drippy or gunky, I was a happy girl. A little unevenness could be resolved with the topcoat.

Spray priming the pegboard.  After the pegboard had been coated, I also spray primed some of the boards that would serve as the frame for the piece in the office.

Spray priming the pegboard and some of the framing that will mount the board to the wall. Best of all, the whole filling 3,220 holes issue seems to have resolved itself. The spray did just what I hoped for, gently lining the inside of each peg hole. Perfect staging for the next step… paint.

Filled pegboard holes, woot!

And that is that for now. I’m in the paint-color-picking process, and hope to have this baby wrapped early next week. Because a girl’s in serious need of some office utility space.

Before I pick a color and finish, do you have any recommendations on what type of paint I should go for? Oil-based? High-gloss? Something uber-durable like cabinetry paint?


  • Cait @ Hernando House
    6 years ago - Reply

    I think using the paint sprayer was the best way to go! We have one we’ve been planning to use on various projects, but we haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    I think any paint would be fine, but cabinetry paint might be the way to go since it’s pretty durable.

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      I think once you try it… you’re going to be annoyed that you didn’t try it out sooner. It’s a life-changer. I’m not exaggerating. It’s the ease of canned spraypaint x 10.

    • Cait @ Hernando House
      6 years ago -

      I’m sure you’re right! I don’t even know half the things we were planning to use it for, but I know the interior doors in the shed need it baaaaaadly. (Which is another one of those “once we do it we’ll kick ourselves for not doing it sooner” projects.)

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Haha. They’ll be done in an hour. Zip zoom bang boom.

  • Gin
    6 years ago - Reply

    For durability, you might want to check out kitchen/bathroom enamel paint. I got some from Lowes last year (Valspar, I think), and it went on smooth and durable over an old bathroom vanity.

    Now, if you’re up for something a little more outside-the-box, there are two paints that I’m dying to find a purpose for: chalkboard paint, and dry-erase paint. Lowes had the dry-erase paint on a little display near the paint chips.

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      I’m dying to try that dry erase paint! Haven’t found the perfect place for it yet. If you try it… I can’t wait to hear about how it works. Thanks for the tips on Valspar! I will check it out!

  • andrea
    6 years ago - Reply

    Hi Emily, I read your blog just about everyday. I have a cheapie sprayer from HF – it may be the same one! I use it all the time for furniture – I absolutely LOVE it! I have a couple suggestions for you.
    One is to sand between coats; both the primer and the paint coats – the final surface is SMOOTH! I just use a 320 grit foam blocky thing very quickly over just the flat surfaces. The nice thing is that because the coats go on so thin, they dry in minutes!
    Second, I use regular latex paint from Valspar, or sometimes the paint and primer in one and it works great. You probably don’t need to spend the extra $ for the cabinet paint. Also, I once used some not latex type of primer in my sprayer (I was assured that it would be great) and it totally clogged my sprayer – it was a nightmare to clean out. I almost threw it away and bought a new one.
    Third, I thin my paint pretty thin. No formula, just thin.
    Lastly, and I know this one is a no brainer. Clean that bad boy within an inch of its life. It wreaks havoc the next time if you don’t. Ask me how I know.
    Really lastly, I have just discovered Minwax Wipe-On poly. LOVE it! Nice thin coat, super smooth and so much easier to apply than regular paint on poly! If you will be using the little metal hangers in your board, you may want to poly it first.
    Have fun, can’t wait to see how it turns out!!

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Hi Andrea! Thanks for your nice note and for ALL of the great tips regarding the sprayer; I’m planning on using it a bit this weekend (and Pete’s out of town and I just know he’d be sorry if I didn’t clean it well enough, so I’m glad for your timely advice :) ).

      Good tips on sanding and using latex in the sprayer also. And yes, I do plan to use the metal hooks – where’d you buy the wipe-on poly? I can’t recall if I’ve seen that specific kind at the normal Lowes/Home Depot. If I can buy it there, I’ll look tomorrow!

    • andrea
      6 years ago -

      Emily, I bought it at Lowes. It comes in a larger can, but is with all of the other poly stuff. Good luck!

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Thanks Andrea!

  • Jami Graham
    6 years ago - Reply

    Ugh…I feel so convicted! We own one and I just spent hours painting my dresser with a roller. I SO should have tried it, I need to suck up my fear and try it out!

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Oh Jami. Your life will be changed. And thank you for the reminder to use the sprayer on a dresser I have when I get around to it (I’m still defaulting to the roller when I’m thinking about projects…).

  • Pat
    4 years ago - Reply

    Hi What can we do? My daughter and I didn’t know how to paint a peg board, we went and bought a can of generic black spray paint for a peg board. When we got through it looks faded out in different areas of the board. We bought another one, this time we used rust 0 lem semi gloss and it did the same thing. Now that I am reading your article it states using primer first. Is there any way we can fix our boards with rebuying everything again.

    • Emily
      4 years ago -

      I think you would be fine priming over what you’ve already done, and then applying a new coat of color for a consistent finish.

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