Here's How To Freshen Up Melamine and Laminate With Paint

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Laminate and melamine surfaces are famous for getting outdated quickly.  Your 1990s salmon and teal kitchen cabinets or counters, in fact, were outdated minutes after they were installed.  

Not only that, laminate eventually gets scratched, even with normal use.  Unlike solid surface or wood, laminate cannot be sanded down smooth.

Short of replacing with another, better type of material, is there a cheap and easy remedy.

 Yes, but as with most "easy" home improvement projects, it comes with some built-in limitations.  

What You're Up Against

Unlike wood, laminate cannot be sanded down to a natural grain because it has no natural grain.  With wood, exposing grain is vital for the paint to adhere.

Laminate and melamine are designed to repel kitchen spills--food, oil, moisture.  Unfortunately, paint is a type of "spill," too, and these surfaces do a reasonably good job of preventing paint from sticking.

It is tricky to prepare the surface so that paint will stick over the long term. Improperly-applied paint will peel off of laminate, creating a bigger mess than what you started out with.

Painting laminate or melamine cabinets is easier than countertops because cabinets get far less physical contact than counters.

One Easy But Pricey Solution:  Countertop Painting Kits

For counters (but not cabinets), a wiser step than painting is to purchase a countertop resurfacing system such as Rust-Oleum's Countertop Transformations.

 These kits are formulated for the rigors of countertops. 

These systems are markedly different from paint-only processes in that they include a layer of solid decorative chips.  These chips are dispensed from a hand-cranked spreader, much like an outdoor spreader that you use to disseminate grass seed.

 These chips lay down a thick coat--far thicker than paint--which covers up all scratches.

But If You Are Intent on Painting, Follow These Steps

Rather than ordinary wall latex-acrylic paint, you will be using a urethane reinforced acrylic paint such as INSL-X's Cabinet Coat.

  1. Clear Area:  Remove all items near to the cabinets or counters to a garage or a covered patio.
  2. Sanding:  Sand down the laminate surface with fine grit sandpaper. Sandpaper grits #180-100 are appropriate for light sanding of laminate surfaces. Get all the gloss out.
  3. Clean:  Wipe down the surface with tack cloth. Follow with wiping down with paint thinner and rags.
  4. Paint:  Apply two thin layers of INSL-X paint with the high density paint roller, letting each layer completely dry before adding the next.

Buy on Amazon - INSL-X Cabinet Coat Paint

What You Need:

  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • TSP (cleaner) and rags
  • INSL-X Cabinet Coat
  • Paint roller with dense roller cover