How to Paint a Melamine Board

A close look at a piece of melamine board.
  • 2-3 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-30
What You'll Need
Drop cloth
Latex gloves
Trisodium phosphate soap
80-grit sandpaper
Melamine primer
Paintbrush or foam roller
240-grit sandpaper
Melamine paint

Melamine board is essentially a type of material (typically foam or cardboard) that is covered with a melamine hard shell. Melamine can be used to make inexpensive plates, bowls, and trays for use in cafeterias and other high volume locations, but it can also be used to cover walls or for craft projects and, as such, will most likely be painted. You will find, however, that painting melamine board is more difficult than you think without the proper steps.

Step 1 - Look out for Your Own Safety

Place the melamine board you wish to paint on top of a drop cloth or place a drop cloth in front of the board. Also, make sure to put on a pair of latex gloves to protect your hands from the harsh materials you will be working with.

Step 2 - Scrub it Down

Fill a bucket with two gallons of warm water and add half a cup of the trisodium phosphate soap. Mix it well until the chemical is incorporated. Then, dip a rag into the mixture and squeeze out the excess water. Scrub the board down well, and rinse it off with clean water. Allow the melamine to dry completely before moving forward.

Step 3 - Create a Texture

The melamine board is very smooth, which makes it difficult for paint to adhere to the surface. In order to get the paint to stick, you need to create some sort of texture. Take a piece of 80-grit sandpaper to the surface first. Make sure to get the entire thing, and then use the rag to dust off the powder created by the process.

Step 4 - Apply Primer

Now that the surface is rough, it can accept primer. Some melamine primers may require the use of a bristled brush while others will want you to use foam or a roller. Make sure to read the instructions on your product beforehand so you know which tool to use. Then, apply a very thin coat of primer to the melamine board. Cover the entire thing with the primer and let it dry for four or more hours.

After the primer has dried, use the 240-grit sandpaper to gently rough the surface. Wipe away any dust with a rag.

Step 5 - Paint the Melamine Board

Next, you can add your topcoat. Apply one thin coat of the melamine paint using whichever brush is recommended for the specific type and brand you are using. You should always apply paint in several thin layers, letting it dry thoroughly in between, to get a durable, complete finish. Add as many coats as necessary for good coverage.

Once you have the color you want on the board, let the paint sit overnight to dry completely. So long as you've followed these instructions, as well as any on your paint product, your melamine board should have a vibrant new finish that will last.