How to Paint a Formica Cabinet Door

Pristine white cabinets with dark metal handles.
  • 9-12 hours
  • Beginner
  • 120-200
What You'll Need
Formica cleaner
Fine-grit sandpaper
Random orbital sander
Tack cloth
Sponge roller
Paint brushes
Latex paint

You don't need to spend a lot of money to do a major renovation on your kitchen. You can just change some simple aspects of your cabinets, such as give them a new color or finish or even adding some new hardware. This can completely alter the look and feel of your entire kitchen.

Many kitchen cabinet doors are made out of Formica. Painting over these doors requires a little extra work to make sure the paint sticks to the slick surface. Here is a step by step process to follow to get the results you want.

Step 1 – Detach the Cabinet Door

Before painting your Formica cabinet doors, you will need to remove them from the cabinet face. Use a screwdriver, or an electric screwdriver, to remove the screws holding the door in place. Then, set it on a sturdy work surface and remove the rest of the hardware on the door. You will need to remove all pulls and handles as well as the hinges that held it to the frame. Set these aside on a towel spread on your kitchen table or counter so you don't have to worry about losing any pieces.

Step 2 - Clean the Surface

Spray a Formica cleaner onto the door to wash it. Being in the kitchen, there will be a some accumulated dirt, grease, smoke, and other particles on even your cabinets, and removing this will require more than just soap and water. If you still have trouble using the specially formulated cleanser, try something more heavy-duty. Use a clean, wet rag to wipe the surface after all the debris has been removed. Allow it to dry afterward in the open air or speed up the process using a towel.

Step 3 - Sand

You can now begin to get the doors ready for paint. Formica is a hard material that does not accept paint at all, so you will need to remove the hard surface finish you start to roll on some paint. Use a small grit sandpaper with a random orbital sander and rough up the finish. Do not try and remove all the Formica; just create some texture. Wipe the doors with a tack cloth to remove any dust left behind before you move on. If you use a machine sander, wear safety glasses and a face mask to keep the particles out of your lungs and eyes.

Step 4 - Apply Coat of Primer

Open the can of primer, and apply it to the cabinet door using a sponge roller for the best application. You can do the edges using a paint brush.

Step 5 - Paint the Top Coat

After the primer is dry, you can add the final color. Use a latex paint that dries up quickly to minimize the amount of time you have to wait before rehanging your doors. Use a sponge roller and paintbrush again and cover the entire door. Once the paint begins to feel a little sticky, but does not come off on your finger, you can add another coat. Follow the directions for dry time on your product after you've finished.

Step 6 - Reapply Hardware and Replace

Now that the paint is dry, you can begin to re-install the hardware, latches, and hinges. Screw them carefully onto the door so you don't scratch the new paint. Once the hardware is back on, place the door back on the cabinet and attach with an electric screwdriver. Test to make sure the door is secure again by opening and closing it a few times.

With this project complete, it will look like you have a whole new kitchen!