Refinishing Melamine Cabinets

  • 6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 125
What You'll Need
Paint roller
Painter's tape
Small tarp or expendable blanket
Warm water
Dish-washing liquid
Breathing mask
Safety goggles
Rubber gloves
Melamine paint

If you're looking for an inexpensive, effective way to spruce up your kitchen, you may want to consider refinishing your melamine cabinets. In just a few simple steps, you can have your cabinets freshly refinished and looking like new.

Step 1 - Prepare the Cabinets for Refinishing

Before painting your melamine cabinets, you will need to clean and lightly sand them. Begin this step by using a mini vac, feather duster, or damp cloth to remove any noticeable dust deposits from the cabinets. Once the cabinets are dust-free, combine warm water and dish-washing liquid in an empty spray bottle, shake the bottle, then spray the newly formed cleaning solution onto your cabinets and scrub them with a sponge, washcloth, or paper towel. Follow up by using a spray bottle filled with warm water to rinse off your homemade cleaner, then dry the cabinets with a clean washcloth or paper towel.

Once the cabinets have been cleaned, use a piece of silicon carbide sandpaper—for a more aggressive and lasting cutting action— to carefully smooth them out, taking care to pay special attention to any rough patches. This will ultimately make it easier for your primer to adhere to the cabinets. Next, use a dampened cloth or paper towel to wipe away any dust and other debris produced by the sanding.

Step 2 - Apply Your Primer

There are many different types and qualities of primers made available nowadays, that are formulated to bind practically any type of material or finish to any new paint you wish to use for recoating. So it is recommended at this stage to inform yourself of the best primer to use in your case.

With your melamine cabinets being all prepped, you may begin the primer application. Start this step by making sure all nearby doors and windows have been opened to provide the area with adequate ventilation, then place painter's tape along the sides of your cabinets in order to shield the surrounding area from paint and primer. To protect yourself from fumes, as well as skin and eye irritation, put on a breathing mask, a pair of rubber gloves, and safety goggles. Next, use a paintbrush or roller to apply your primer in smooth, even vertical strokes. If you wish to refinish your cabinet doors separately, simply detach them with the aid of a screwdriver and place them on a tarp or an old towel or blanket.

After applying a full coat of primer to your melamine cabinets, allow the primer to fully dry, then carefully inspect the cabinets for any rough patches you may have missed while sanding. Should you locate any, gently sand them down before applying your paint.

Step 3 - Apply Your Paint

Having applied your primer and taken care of any remaining rough patches, you're ready to apply fresh paint to your melamine cabinets. Using a clean paintbrush or roller, apply your melamine paint in smooth, even vertical strokes, in much the same fashion as you applied your primer. Wait for your first coat of paint to fully dry before proceeding to add any more. It is generally recommended that you add at least 1 or 2 additional coats. After your final coat is completely dry, you may remove your painter's tape and, if you refinished the cabinet doors separately, you may now reattach them.