Problems with Melamine

Are you having Problems with Melamine Paint? - difficulties can start before you buy, just by trying to decide if this is the right product purchase for your proposed project.

If you talk to friends who have already undertaken this project you may find that you are given surprisingly different reports on the outcome of their paint jobs - for many it was a breeze, couldn't have been easier. 

- and for others it ended in a sticky, non drying, streaky, saggy mess - many people will tell you that problems with melamine paint include that it stuck to everything except the cupboards! (read on for real homeowner experiences with melamine)

Paint and brushes are not cheap, especially if you have a lot of cupboards to cover so you want to feel confident about your paint before you make your purchase.

This brings us directly to one of the main problems with melamine paint and that is that if you have the perfect optimum conditions, contrived or by chance, then a melamine paint application could work very well for your home improvement and financing project, but:

  • if it is too damp,
  • if a light layer of dust swept across your cupboards just before you started to apply,
  • if it suddenly became really hot and the paint starts to dry on the brush or sponge,
  • if you hadn't managed to remove all the unseen layers on the old cupboard surface and the paint won't stick,
  • if you didn't lay the cupboards flat and the paint sags towards the bottom,
  • if your cat walked across the wet paint leaving a wavy line of paw prints through your melamine paint - actually that could look quite unique!, but not recommended for paws.

There are many things that can go wrong when doing this kitchen renovation project but if all goes well it can look like you have a new kitchen entirely.

One of the problems with melamine paint is that it can take forever to dry in damp, humid conditions but if you have unusually hot dry temperature it can start to dry and settle and set before you have applied your final stroke and leave marks!.

Another of the problems with melamine paint is that it is a relatively new material, used for years in the factory it has been dragged into the home improvement market by popular demand as homeowners after over a decade with the same kitchen cabinets and kitchen cupboards, wanted to find a way to paint over melamine surfaces for a new color and a new look.

Repeated painting has meant too many layers of melamine paint which leads to chipping - and once it starts to chip, boy doesn't it look ugly. You can try to sand it down to smooth the surface in that area and paint over it again but it's a short term solution at best and not a cure - it just doesn't look good.

You will have to visit your local hardware store to see what they have available to remove 10+ year old hard set melamine paint and test one area to see if it will successfully work to strip all of your kitchen cupboards back to the original.

Problems with Melamine - Testing

Here is a question from a visitor to - regarding melamine paint and repairing kitchen cabinets. 

"I have mftg melamine kitchen cabinets about 13 year old. Along some of the doors the melamine has chipped or coming loose. I know this is molded on. Can remove all melamine and repaint them?"

Have you done this project before, can you comment on what worked best for you with regards to melamine removal and melamine application - please drop us a line here at Have Your Say - problems with melamine so that I can add your story or comments to this article and hopefully help more homeowners who are looking for the best way to tackle this project.

The key to saving your budget and your time is lots of testing until you are really sure it's what you want before you go out and buy all the tins of paint you need and before you dedicate the time and energy necessary to do this project properly.

I always say that you can't lose if you try to paint your kitchen cabinets because if you are not happy with the results you always have the fall back position of being able to replace the doors with new ones - still far more economical than starting from scratch and buying whole new units...

- but you don't want to waste your time or money buying melamine paint until you know you can use it well and that it will work at your home to successfully transform your cabinets.

The best way to test is to work with one door - you may choose the worst one, the most chipped one - depending on how bad your cabinets are it's probably the one that you use the most - or I prefer to experiment on a door that is the most hidden from view.

Test with melamine paint removers, test with melamine paint applications - testing is really the best way for you to take control of the situation and reduce possibilities of problems with melamine paint because it is the only way to see what works in your particular kitchen situation and climatic considerations.

Problems with Melamine - Lynn D.'s Story

You may be wondering what homeowners who have not been pleased with the results obtained by using melamine paint have done instead, what other paint options they may have used

- Lynn D. from Canada is a lady who made some tough decisions regarding painting her bathroom cabinets and opted to go that extra mile in order to achieve a look that she was happy with...

  • "We painted our bleached bathroom cupboard dark brown with a melamine paint, but we did not like the colour so we decided to use a different paint, latex and painted over the melamine. The second paint covered great, looks good but is taking forever to dry, is this normal and have we done the wrong thing painting over the melamine cupboards that were first painted with melamine paint with the latex dark brown we do the rest, our bathroom is huge with many cupboard, we only started with three cupboards..."

a week or so later I was pleased to hear from Lynn again...

  • "Hey there, Well things have gotten very interesting since I wrote very discouraged with the melemine, covered great, was the perfect dark brown/black colour I wanted, only did three cabinet doors to start, a week went by but the paint was still tacky.... we were painting them down in the basement, not a good idea, so we brought them up into the dryest/warmest room in the house but it still taking awhile. We went to a good paint store and they told us that the next time we buy melemine paint for bathroom/kitchen, to make sure we also buy Japan drops to put into the paint, apparently it helps the melamine to dry faster. I did not want to go that route so he suggested, using varsol, wiping off the surface of the melemine painted cupboards and applying a very good primer (their brand ofcourse) as the paint sticks really well to the cupboard, he recommended a good latex paint (56 bucks good) and said to come back in two months and they have some really great clear sealer you can put onto the paint so it can withstand moisture...we will do that. In the meantime, my husband totally stripped all three melemine cupboards ( he never does anything halfa---)did the primer thingie, painted the latex paint on, one coat is done, second coat tonight....looks great except not as black/brown as I would have liked, more like a dark/red brown (mahagony)but I can live with it. We will take before and after pics and send them to you....saw this in a showhome and fell in love with the contrast, have white fixtures, tiles and the brown is on the otherside of the room, really really looked nice....stay tuned...."

and later Lynn kindly wrote back with an update on the results of their work

  • "well the cupboards turned out fabulous, sooooooooooooooo happy with them and the look, used latex and a good primer and used varsol to take the melamine off the three we had done. Dried in no time, will never use melamine paint again, man what a lot of work. In two months we go back to Randals and they have a clear coat paint that we will put on the brown to just protect the surface a bit more. We are now going to do the main bath as we love the look so much. I will take a pic of that before so you can see the difference, forgot to do the ensuite before I painted, was too stressed about the melamine taking so long to dry..haha. Later and thanks for your info, sent it on to some friends who were thinking of using the melamine paint, now they are not. Ha. Everyone that comes over just love it and most of them were horrified that I was attempted to do the paint job in the first place, yea have so little faith..hahah..enjoy!!! Forgot to mention we are also putting in granite countertops but that will come later of course budget permitting."

Lynn from Ontario, Canada kindly wrote in giving me permission to credit her with her story

I loved this message for many reasons - but most of all what jumps out is Lynn D. positive energy when faced with problems with melamine which is really inspiring - and also that she took the time to write in with such detailed information on solutions for painting melamine kitchen cabinets or melamine bathroom cupboards that other homeowners can apply.

Thank you Lynn and congratulations on successfully completing your project.

If you enjoyed a hassle free kitchen cabinet paint job or have suffered problems with melamine - please write in with your experiences so that your information can help other homeowners remodel and improve their homes. Have Your Say - painting with melamine

Best Building wishes

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