How To Start Painting and Refinishing Your Melamine Cabinets

Jan 29, 2024By Tyler Bains
Tyler Bains

Transform your kitchen with ease by learning how to paint melamine cabinets, but can you? Discover expert tips and tricks to refresh your countertops and cabinets with confidence.

Why You Should Paint Your Melamine Kitchen Cabinets

painted blue cabinets in victoria bc

Hey there, DIY enthusiasts and homeowners looking to spruce up your kitchen space! .

BC Brushworks based out of beautiful Victoria, BC. With nearly a decade of experience in the painting industry, my team and I have mastered the art of transforming kitchen cabinets and countertops, especially those pesky melamine surfaces.

Today, I'm thrilled to share our insider tips on how to paint melamine surfaces like a pro, bringing new life to your kitchen space.

Transforming your kitchen doesn't always require a complete renovation. Sometimes, a fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into your space, and painting melamine cabinets is a cost-effective way to do just that.

Melamine cabinets are known for their durability and smooth finish, but over time, they may become outdated or worn. With the right preparation and materials, you can start painting your melamine cabinets for a modern and refreshed look.

kitchen cabinets painting

Understanding Melamine, Thermofoil, and Laminate

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of cabinet painting, let's understand our canvas. Melamine, thermofoil, and laminate—these materials define the backbone of modern kitchen cabinetry. They offer durability but pose unique challenges when it comes to painting. But fear not, we've cracked the code to make this process a breeze.

Preparation Steps for Painting Melamine Surfaces

Preparation is key, folks! We start by deglossing and roughening the surface—think of it as prepping the canvas for a masterpiece. Cleaning is crucial; grease and dirt buildup can sabotage your paint job. And don't forget to remove hardware and cabinet doors for a seamless finish. Cabinet refinishing requires the highest level of prepration to any other style of interior paint.

preparing painting workspace

Step-by-Step Painting Process

Now, let's dive into the heart of the matter—the painting process itself. We apply a high adhesion primer, laying the foundation for vibrant, long-lasting colors. Thin, even coats are the name of the game, folks. And don't rush the curing process; patience pays off in the end.

a person using a sprayer on a wooden cabinet

Choosing the Right Materials and Tools

At BC Brushworks, we swear by urethane-reinforced paints for their scratch resistance. But choosing the right tools is just as important as selecting the paint. Cabinet painting with urethane tends to last the longest, and that is exactly why we recommend it.

Foam rollers and brushes are our weapons of choice for achieving that smooth, flawless finish.

To start painting your melamine cabinets, you'll need to gather some specific materials and tools:

  • High-quality primer designed for slick surfaces
  • Latex or oil-based paint (semi-gloss or gloss finish is recommended for durability)
  • Fine-grit sandpaper (220 to 240 grit)
  • Tack cloth or damp rag for cleaning
  • Good quality angled paintbrush and foam roller
  • Painter's tape

Cleaning, Sanding and Preperation

sanding wooden cabinets

The key to a smooth painting job is in the preparation. Start by cleaning your cabinets thoroughly with a degreaser to remove any grease, dirt, and grime.

Use fine-grit sandpaper or a liquid deglosser to roughen the surface of the melamine. This step is crucial for promoting paint adhesion and ensuring a long-lasting finish.

This will help the primer to adhere better. Wipe down the cabinets with a tack cloth or a damp rag to remove any dust from sanding.

After all of that. begin by thoroughly cleaning the melamine surface with a high-quality degreaser to remove any dirt or grease buildup. Ensure the surface is completely dry before proceeding.

Removing Hardware and Doors

screwdriver for electronics repair torx screwdriver set

Take the time to remove any hardware, including knobs, handles, and cabinet doors. This step allows for easy access and ensures a seamless paint job.

Applying Primer

Before adding primer
Before adding Primer

Choose a high-quality primer designed specifically for melamine surfaces. Opt for urethane-reinforced paints for better scratch resistance and durability.

Look for a high-adhesion primer that's specifically formulated for non-porous surfaces. Apply a thin, even coat of primer with a foam roller and use an angled brush for the hard-to-reach areas. Allow the primer to dry completely according to the manufacturer's instructions before moving on to painting.

Paint Application

Once your primer is dry, it's time to paint. Apply your chosen latex or oil-based paint in thin, even coats.

For the best finish, use a foam roller on large surfaces to avoid brush marks and an angled brush for edges and corners. It's better to apply multiple thin coats rather than one thick coat.

Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next one. Patience during this stage will result in a smoother, more professional finish.

For best results use a sprayer, as we know most don't have a commercial grade sprayer laying around you can always look at hiring our team at BC Brushworks. We work with refinishing all types of kitchen cabinets within Victoria, BC.

Curing the Surface

Allow the painted surface to cure fully according to the manufacturer's instructions. Avoid placing heavy objects on the surface or subjecting it to heavy use during the curing process.

assembly of cabinets

Reassembling the Cabinets

After the final coat of paint has dried, it's time to reassemble your cabinets. Carefully reattach the hardware, doors, and drawers. Be gentle to avoid scratching the new paint. 

Handle Hardware with Care: When reassembling your cabinets after the final coat of paint has dried, handle the hardware, doors, and drawers with utmost care. Avoid applying excessive pressure or force to prevent scratching or damaging the freshly painted surfaces.

Mindful Attachment: As you reattach the hardware, doors, and drawers, ensure each component aligns correctly and fits snugly into place. Take your time to avoid misalignment or uneven gaps, which can detract from the overall aesthetic of your cabinets.

Remove Painter's Tape: Once everything is securely back in place, carefully remove any painter's tape that was used to protect surrounding areas during the painting process. Peel off the tape gently to avoid accidentally removing paint or causing damage to the cabinet surfaces.

Cleanup Workspace: After reassembling the cabinets, take a moment to clean up your workspace. Dispose of any discarded materials, wipe down surfaces, and organize your tools and equipment for future use. A clean workspace not only enhances safety but also ensures a professional finish to your project.

Once everything is back in place, remove the painter's tape and clean up your workspace.

Maintenance and Care

white and blue concrete wall

To keep your newly painted melamine cabinets looking their best, clean them regularly with a mild detergent and avoid harsh chemicals. Touch up any chips or scratches immediately to maintain the integrity of the paint. 

Regular Cleaning: Maintain the pristine appearance of your newly painted melamine cabinets by cleaning them regularly with a mild detergent and warm water solution. Use a soft cloth or sponge to gently wipe down the surfaces, removing dust, dirt, and any spills.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Steer clear of harsh chemical cleaners and abrasive scrubbing pads, as these can damage the paint and underlying melamine surface. Opt for gentle, non-abrasive cleaning products that are safe for use on painted surfaces.

Prompt Touch-Ups: Keep an eye out for any chips, scratches, or signs of wear and tear on your cabinets. Promptly touch up these areas with matching paint to maintain the integrity of the finish and prevent further damage.

Protective Measures: Consider using protective pads or liners inside cabinets and drawers to prevent scratches and scuffs from everyday use. Encourage household members to handle cabinet doors and drawers with care to minimize the risk of accidental damage.

Monitor Moisture Levels: Be vigilant about monitoring moisture levels in your kitchen, particularly around sinks, dishwashers, and other water sources. Promptly wipe up any spills or moisture to prevent water damage to the painted surfaces.

With proper care, your painted melamine cabinets will look great for years to come.

clean kitchen cabinets

Why You Should Paint Your Melamine Cabinets

Painting your melamine cabinets can be a rewarding DIY project that updates your kitchen without a major remodel. By following these steps and taking your time with preparation and painting, you can achieve a professional-looking finish. So grab your supplies, and let's get started on giving your cabinets a brand new look!

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