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How to Paint Melamine Kitchen Cabinets

How To Paint Melamine Kitchen Cabinets

If you have watched any decorating shows, you will have often seen that they refurbish old kitchen cupboards by painting the doors. It always seems like such a quick, easy, and inexpensive makeover on television. In my experience it is a very cost effective undertaking that takes longer than you might expect. However, I think the invested time and effort is well worth the results, so here is my steps for how to paint melamine kitchen cabinets.

Read on to find two methods that I have successfully used to paint melamine kitchen cabinets:

1.  The first method is using a commercial paint sprayer to apply melamine paint to the doors. Melamine paint has the advantage that it is designed to adhere to melamine surfaces.  It provides a tough, chip resistant, easy to clean finish. Its main drawback is that it takes a long time to dry.

2.  The second method I describe is the application of Door and Trim paint by roller. I have had good success with this method too.

Click Next to find out How To Paint Melamine Kitchen Cabinets

Before You Paint (Both Methods)

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Make sure the doors are clean before painting | How to Paint Melamine Kitchen Cabinets

Before I started, I added cabinets to the kitchen wherever there was useable space. I also replaced any damaged doors. Don’t worry if you cannot find an exact replacement. Your old door design will likely be obsolete. Look for the correct replacement size and something as close to the original style as you can find. When they are all painted, the differences won’t be noticeable.

No matter which method you use, the preparation of the surface is imperative. Do not skip or scrimp on this part of the job.

1. Remove all doors from the cupboards. This is a good time to take off the hardware too.

2. Wash the doors and front cupboard edges with TSP in warm water. Make sure there is no grease or dirt left on any surface.

3. If you plan to replace the hardware, fill any unneeded holes with spackling compound.

4. Sand the surfaces lightly and then rinse them with clear warm water, to remove all dust and detergent residue.

5. Let dry thoroughly.

Method 1 – Using a Paint Sprayer

Paint Melamine Kitchen Cabinets with a Paint Sprayer | How to Paint Melamine Kitchen Cabinets

What You Will Need To Paint Melamine Kitchen Cabinets

  • Electric paint sprayer. This needs to have a powerful compressor or be rented from Lowes or Home depot
  • Melamine undercoat, tinted to the color of your choice.
  • Melamine paint, in the gloss and color of your choice. I used a high gloss paint which looks black but has a navy hue.
  • Optional acrylic and silver paint for contrast detail
  • Small dense foam roller or mohair blend roller
  • Paint brush
  • A clean dust free space to lay out the painted doors until the paint dries

How To Paint Melamine Kitchen Cabinets

1. Spray each door with an even coat of melamine undercoat. Start the paint flow with the spray gun pointing off just off the side of the door.  Then sweep the paint spray across the entire door in one movement ending with the spray gun pointing off the door on the other side.  This prevents big blobs of sprayed paint from landing on the door when the gun is turned on and off.  Also, try to keep the spray gun nozzle an even distance about 8 – 12 inches away from the surface.  This allows the paint to be distributed evenly.  If you are new to using a paint sprayer, you may want to do a few practice runs on some scrap wood first until you get the hang of it.

2. Let dry thoroughly.

2. Repeat the same process to spray each door with an even coat of the Melamine paint. Wipe up any drips as you go with the brush or a damp rag. One light coat of paint at a time works best.

3. You will need at least two coats and possibly three to get a nice smooth coverage. Avoid over spraying on each coat. Hint: One of the big disadvantages of using melamine paint is that it takes a long time to dry. Be prepared to allow a day or two (or longer) to let the paint dry completely before applying the next layer.

4. I did not paint the inside of the cupboards but I did paint the outward facing edges so that they match the doors. I followed the same method for the edges as for the doors.

5. When everything is dry, re-hang the doors and replace the hardware.

Note: Before I put the hardware on the doors pictured above, I painted the center panel with blue melamine paint and a foam roller. When that dried, I applied a coat of silver glaze over the blue.

Middle sections were painted with blue paint and silver glaze | How to Paint Melamine Kitchen Cabinets

Method 2 – Using a Roller

These cabinets were painted a lighter color on top, and a darker color on the bottom | How to Paint Melamine Kitchen Cabinets

What You Will Need To Paint Melamine Kitchen Cabinets

  • B.I.N. undercoating
  • Inexpensive paint brush (to be discarded)
  • Door and trim acrylic paint, e.g. Benjamin Moore, in color and finish of your choice. I used coordinating but different colors on the top and bottom cupboards in Semi gloss finish.
  • Mohair blend roller (Note: puts on a smooth line free layer of paint that looks nicer than that of a dense foam roller and leaves no streaks like a brush will.)
  • Paint brush. Choose a brush in medium size with thick slanted bristles.
  • Paint tray
  • Optional Metallic paint for contrast. I used Textureline silver because if goes on streak free.
  • Optional glaze
  • A clean dust free space to lay out the painted doors until the paint dries

How To Paint Melamine Kitchen Cabinets

1. Paint the doors and the cupboard edges with B.I.N primer sealer. B.I.N insures that the Door and Trim Paint will firmly adhere to the Melamine cupboard door surface. It is not a water cleanup product, though, so I use an inexpensive brush when I’m painting with B.I.N and discard it at the end of the job.

2. When the undercoat is dry, in about 45 minutes, apply your first coat of Door and Trim acrylic paint using a mohair blend roller. Let dry completely.

3. Paint the front edges of the cupboards

4. Repeat step 2 and 3 once or twice as needed for total coverage. Note: Resist the urge to rework and touch-up the paint before it dries. Door and Trim paint is designed to smooth evenly over the surface as it dries. So apply the paint and leave it be.

5. Optional silver inset panels. My cupboard doors had a defined inset in the design so I decided to paint that part silver, using a small mohair blend roller. This took about 4 thin coats. I used a damp cloth to wipe the edges of the panels straight.

6. Optional glaze. To soften the stark contrast between the top and bottom doors, I decided to apply a glaze to the tops. I mixed a glaze in the ratio of 1 part acrylic glaze/1 part bottom cupboard paint/2parts water. I used a piece of cheese cloth to wipe the glaze onto the top cupboard doors and edges, being careful to avoid the silver panels.

7. Hang doors and replace hardware.

8. Stand back and admire your new kitchen!

Comments or questions about How To Paint Melamine Kitchen Cabinets?  Tell us in the section below.

This post was originally published on June 19, 2015 but was updated with new content on March 29, 2023.

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  1. I want to do our bathroom cabinets that are similar to those shown going from white to black. When rolling on the paint, how does that work in all the grooved or onset areas?

    1. Hi Carla…if the grooves aren’t very deep, you can still use the roller. The depth of the roller will get the paint into the grooves. If they are too deep for that, I would use a brush to paint just the grooved areas first and then do the flat areas of the door with the roller. If you’re afraid of not being able to get the paint on smoothly, you can try mixing some Floetrol with it…it will help eliminate any brush marks. Good luck with your project!

  2. Thank you for posting this, I love it. And your kitchen came out Beautiful.

    1. Thanks, Susan! I really like the way the cabinets came out, too. The color definitely adds some pizzazz to the room 🙂