Painting Melamine Cabinet
Doors and Drawers

Painting Melamine Cabinet Guide

It's never been as easier to change the color and tone of your kitchen and our painting melamine cabinet mini course will guide you through the process.

Melamine Paint is a Urethane Re-inforced Oil Based Paint which can usually be applied to a multitude of surfaces like laminates, plastic, fibreglass, glass and even ceramics.

photo of different melamine paint containers

There are now quite a number of specialized melamine primers and paints on the market although there does seem to be more variety of brands more readily available in stores in the UK than in the USA.

The manufacturers instructions for product use and safety should always be read and followed carefully.

This article originated in answer to a great question from one of our visitors "....could you provide me with instructions on how to paint cabinets that are not wood.... as well as what primer, paint and steps to take in order to do it."

Some companies tell you that their paint can be applied directly onto a pre-cleaned surface without using a primer, others that your kitchen cabinets should be cleaned with a detergent, lightly sanded, washed over with TSP (TriSodium Phosphate cleaner which you can get from general hardware stores - following intructions for disolving a quantity in water) and then left to dry before painting.

Painting on Melamine is similar to painting over previously painted kitchen cabinets, you start with a surface that is smooth and it's our experience that this type of paint - like all others - works better when the surface is roughed up a bit with sand paper to provide a key for the new paint.

It certainly isn't going to harm your cabinets if you thoroughly clean and carefully and lightly sand them and it will always help the paint by providing a surface it can grip onto.

One supplier of a one coat product goes as far as to say that by applying a coat of a multi-surface primer first before using the one coat goes a long way to improving the performance of the melamine paint... and we prefer this combination method for a longer lasting smoother cover.

Painting Melamine Cabinet
- Step by Step Guide

Please Note:- If you are at all in doubt, see if you can test a small area or side of a cabinet for results.


Invaluable for your success is preparation, you need to give yourself the necessary time to do this project right to get the best finish for your kitchen.

Protect floor and other surface which are not to be painted before you start.

Always take care when using hand tools and paint products, and remember - your safety is more important than your project.

  • Remove the cabinet doors to a place where you can paint them horizontally and leave them undisturbed to dry - this will make the job easier for you.

  • Ventilation is paramount - only work in a well ventilated space.

  • Remove the Knobs and Pulls and put them in a safe place - unless you want to update your kitchen with new ones!

  • Clean and degrease all surfaces and let them dry.

  • Put on rubber gloves and follow the instruction for mixing TSP (TRISODIUM PHOSPHATE) with water and wash the surface - allow to dry.

  • Thoroughly sand the surface and then remove the dust before applying the primer. (with a 80 - 100 grit sandpaper)

Applying a Primer

  • Apply 1 coat of a primer like "Melamine Primer" or "International Paints Wipe on Multi Surface Primer" or "Glidden Gripper Primer" and allow to dry - (usually about 4 hours is enough but please follow directions)

    Whatever the name of the primer you choose - it should be a high quality product which provides good adhesion for the top coat.

  • Very lightly sand (scuff sanding) the surface of the primer. (with a 240 or finer grit sand paper)

Painting Melamine Cabinet

  • Apply the Melamine Paint with smooth up and down strokes for an even sheen finish.

    Also please follow the instructions of the melamine paint manufacturer that you choose regarding tools. Some recommend using a natural bristle brush - others a foam brush or a high density foam roller.

Painting Kitchen Cabinet Tip

  • Best Painting Melamine Cabinet results are by painting on three thin coats instead of 1 or 2 thick coats - giving plenty of time to dry in between.

  • If you are painting over a dark color you may need to apply two coats anyway and you will have to wait up to 16 hours, depending on the manufacturers recommendations - before applying the second coat.

    It is worth the time spend waiting to apply the second and/or third coat and then waiting before you re-hang the kitchen cabinet doors - for a smoother, stronger more durable finish.

  • Most Melamine paints are touch dry in a couple of hours but will not be completely cured (set) for a couple of days so you will initially need to be careful when re-mounting the doors and for a while when using them until they are totally set.

What if it doesn't work for you!

What if you don't like the finish - what if the paint you choose to purchase just doesn't like your doors - as we said before - these products are still relatively new...

It's possible that they work better on dry days that humid, the results could really depend on the preparation, certainly the brand of paint will factor - but for what ever reason - what can you do if you just don't like the results...

The best option still open to you after you have tried painting melamine cabinet doors is to replace the doors (not the whole kitchen units - just the doors) with new designs and up to date styles of the same size and add your own hardware in handle Knobs and Pulls - this is still a good economical choice that will give your kitchen a totally new look.

Painting Melamine Cabinet Resources

Melamine surfaces do not take normal paints well, that is why specialist paints have been produced.

There are different melamine paint products available in different countries, most stores carry melamine paint but not in all branches - so to help you with your painting melamine cabinet project here are some supplier and product names to look out for:

International Paints - "One Coat Melamine Paint"

Cloverdale Paint - "Kitchen & Bath Semi-Gloss Acrylic Latex"

General Paint - "Melamine Paint"

Decotime - "Cabinet Rescue"

Ronseal - "One Coat Melamine & MDF Paint"

Dulux - "Realife Cupboard Paint"

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