How to paint laminate cabinets

Prime your laminate cabinets for the perfect paint job with these tips for surface preparation, paint selection, and application.

How to paint laminate cabinets

Short of committing to a more costly replacement of outdated kitchen storage, repainting laminate cabinets is an affordable way to turn the eyesore into eye-catching, modern cabinetry. But while you may be well-versed in painting most any old wood furnishings, from side tables to pantry doors, laminate is another beast altogether. Not nearly as porous as its wooden lookalike, this type of surface requires unique preparation, paint, and paint application. Follow these best practices to reinvigorate your laminate cabinetry with a fresh face that lasts!

DON’T PAINT OVER DAMAGED LAMINATE

If laminate is cracked, warped, or peeling, that damage can interfere with the bonding of paint to the cabinet. Ensure that the laminate is in good condition by repairing minor laminate damage or re-facing cabinets before applying paint.

DO REMOVE CABINET HARDWARE

Remove knobs, pulls, and other visible cabinet hardware before painting laminate cabinets for smooth paint application without obstructions. You can mask metal on the hinges with painter’s tape and paint the doors in place, or, if the hinges are visible and removable, take the doors down from the cabinets and paint them separately on a work bench or sawhorse.

How to paint laminate cabinets

Photo: Zillow Digs home in New York, NY

DON’T LEAVE DIRT AND GRIT BEHIND

It may be tempting to eyeball your cabinets and decide that any dirt is minimal enough to conceal with a paint job, but your dirty secret will get out when the color fails to adhere well to the laminate. Before you start painting laminate cabinets, gently wipe away settled-on grime and grease using trisodium phosphate. Then, rinse with fresh water and dry the cabinets completely.

DO SAND THE CABINETS

To create a strong bond between the paint and your cabinet, you’ll need to roughen up the slick laminate with the help of a gritty companion: sandpaper. (For better coverage of a large surface area, consider upgrading to a motorized orbital sander. Your upper body will thank you.) Thoroughly scuff the surfaces of the cabinet with 120-grit sandpaper—enough to get a dusting, but not so much that you tear through the paper-thin laminate surface—and clean up any dusty remains with a handheld vacuum and a damp cloth.

DON’T USE ANY OLD PRIMER AND PAINT

Laminate doesn’t play well with all primers and paints, only those specially formulated to adhere to its picky surface. If you opt for a primer, choose a bonding primer tenacious enough to stick to laminate (view example on Amazon), and then top it with an oil- or latex-based paint after the primer has cured. If you select a paint that can be applied directly over laminate (view example on Amazon), you can skip the primer—just know that this qualification may limit your color choice.

How to paint laminate cabinets

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Altanta, GA

DO PUT YOUR PAINT TO THE TEST

Paint in hand, you’re almost ready to get to work. But first, double-check that your stock is well suited for the job. Testing its bonding capabilities before diving into an entire paint job could save you from a case of peeling paint down the road—and the need to redo hours of work. Apply your paint to a small, inconspicuous area of the cabinet (like the back of one you hardly ever open), let it cure, then inspect the bonding. If you spot some bubbles in the coat, that means it is not adhering well; consult a paint dealer at your hardware store to pinpoint a more suitable paint for the job.

DON’T LEAVE BRUSH STROKES BEHIND

If your first-choice paint applicator for the traditionally flat surface of laminate cabinets is a brush, take a moment to reconsider. These popular paint tools tend to leave an unsightly trail of brush strokes in their wake. Opt instead for a roller, sprayer, or a paint pad for a streak-free finish.

DO MINIMIZE YOUR EXPOSURE TO FUMES

Due to the powerful fumes released from the primer and paint (and your close proximity to them when painting laminate cabinets), increase ventilation in the room and keep out children and pets. Lastly, pull on a pair of chemical-resistant work gloves before you go off to paint the town—or perhaps in this case, your cabinets—red!

If you have outdated laminate cabinets you can’t afford to replace, there are options for updating this kitchen storage staple. Here’s how to paint laminate cabinets like an expert.

Many older homes have laminate kitchen cabinets that could use an update. Bring your kitchen into this decade by painting laminate cabinets, changing out the doors, or entirely replacing the cabinets. Your choice depends on how much you want to spend.

Replacing your cabinets is the most expensive option—cabinetry constitutes nearly three-quarters of the price of a new kitchen. Stock cabinets are the least expensive option if replacing cabinetry. Refacing is another option. Adding a couple of glass doors can dress up your existing laminate cabinets. Check out quality companies in your area to do the work, or save money by doing it yourself. You can spend a bit more on real wood cabinet doors and drawers, or go with premium rigid thermal foil. Prices depend on materials, door style, and construction (frame or frameless).

The least expensive option is painting laminate cabinets. Laminate is not an ideal surface to paint, but it can be done. If you consider the paint job a temporary solution until you can invest in new cabinetry, you’ll probably be more satisfied with the results. Follow these steps to get the best finish possible.

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets

Before you begin painting laminate cabinets, you’ll need to complete some prep work, including any repairs, sanding, and cleaning. Once your doors are ready, we’ll show you how to prime and paint laminate cabinets.

What You Need

  • Drill or screwdriver
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Primer
  • Paintbrush
  • Roller brush
  • Laminate paint

Step 1: Prep cabinet surface

The key to getting the best paint results is preparation. Remove laminate cabinet doors from their frames and remove all hardware, including hinges. Check the laminate for damage and repair any cracked or warped laminate; you don’t want to paint over the damage. Finally, clean the doors and sand them lightly. Use a tack cloth to make sure the doors are dust-free.

Step 2: Prime cabinets and doors

Apply a good-quality primer, such as KILZ interior/exterior primer ($42 per gallon, The Home Depot). Use a high-quality paintbrush to minimize stroke marks as you cut in on cabinet edges or in hard-to-reach spaces. For the doors themselves and any other large surfaces, use a roller to get a smooth, brush stroke-free finish.

Step 3: Sand laminate surfaces again

Once the primer has fully dried, give everything a light sanding again. Use fine-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface, but don’t sand too much. You don’t want to take off all the primer you just applied. Clean off the dust with a tack cloth.

Step 4: Paint laminate cabinets

Finally, it’s time to add your paint. Pick a paint that is designed to work with laminate surfaces, such as the Cabinet Transformations line from Rustoleum ($109 for 2 gallons, The Home Depot). It dries to the touch in one hour, features a tough, chip-resistant finish, and cleans easily with mild liquid soap. We recommend a satin finish that will hide any minor imperfections.

Don’t love your plain flat-front doors? Turn them into paneled cabinets with wood or composite moldings. Find moldings in various widths and designs at your local hardware store, then have them miter-cut to your specifications or do it yourself using a miter box and handsaw. Once they’re cut to size, paint the moldings, following the instructions above. When they are dry, use wood glue to adhere them to the door fronts.

With the proper prep and some hard work, you can transform the look of laminate cabinets. Keep in mind that any DIY painted finish will be more susceptible to damage than factory-finish cabinetry. Eventually, you may need to invest in changing out your cabinets altogether. Painting laminate cabinets will buy you some time and provide an updated look.

How to paint laminate cabinets

If you’re looking to spruce up your kitchen, an idea that may come to mind could be getting new cabinets, particularly if yours are older or if you’re just interested in a fresh look. However, installing new cabinets will likely prove to be extremely costly and laborious. A more cost-effective way to achieve the same goal of brightening up your kitchen is to paint your laminate cabinets. This offers a fresh look for a fraction of the price, and it’s a simple process at that. Below, learn how to paint your laminate cabinets to give your kitchen a whole new feel.

What Exactly Are Laminate Cabinets?

You may have laminate cabinets and not even know it. Laminate cabinets are made of a thin film of material that has been bonded to the exterior surfaces of the cabinet door. The door interior is composed of less expensive wood materials. These cabinets come in a wide variety of styles and some are even made with slightly different materials. Some of the benefits associated with this type of cabinet are that they are stain-resistant, easy to care for, affordable, come in a range of styles and colors, and are durable.

Painting Your Laminate Cabinets

As mentioned above, planting your laminate cabinets is easy to do! Simply follow these steps and you’ll have cabinets that look completely new in no time.

Step 1 – Clean the Cabinets

Before painting, you’ll want to clean your cabinets thoroughly. Wipe them down with a cloth and laminate cleaner. Allow the cabinets to dry completely and then lightly sand them. This will enable the paint to bond more securely to the cabinets. Failing to clean and lightly sand your cabinets at the beginning of this process will result in visble dirt and spots underneath the paint; any imperfections will not be concealed well. It will also prevent laminate paint from adhering nicely to the cabinets. Thus, this is not a step to be skipped.

Step 2 – Prime the Cabinets

How to paint laminate cabinets

Next, use a laminate primer on your cabinets. Use a paint brush along areas that are close to the wall and on the edges. Once this is done, paint larger surfaces with a roller brush. It’s important to leave all cabinets open during painting and drying to ensure that they don’t get stuck closed as the paint dries.

Step 3 – Sand the Cabinets

Now, you’ll lightly sand your cabinets again. This should occur after the primer has dried. Use a fine grit sandpaper to smooth over the entirety of the surface, doing this by hand. Then, using your paint brush, dust off the surface and wipe it down with a wet cloth so that it’s completely clean. As you sand, keep in mind that many laminate cabinets are made of rather thin materials. Thus, you don’t want to sand too aggressively. Sand lightly by hand with great care to attain the best possible results.

Step 4 – Apply a Topcoat

How to paint laminate cabinets

Stir your laminate paint and pour approximately half of it into your paint tray. Again, use your paint brush to cut in along the walls and edges of your cabinets, carefully painting the detailed areas. Your roller brush should then be used for larger surfaces.

When choosing a paint, consider the overall condition of your cabinets. If they are more worn and show knocks or dings, perhaps opt for a satin finish instead of something glossy. This will better conceal any rough areas. You should avoid using an old can of primer or paint, as using those formulated specifically for laminate is a must. Look for a primer designated for use on laminate and an oil- or latex-based laminate paint.

Step 5 – Allow Your Cabinets to Dry

Allow your cabinets adequate time to completely dry, preferably overnight. Again, remember to leave cabinet doors ajar to prevent sticking as drying occurs. Once dry, your work is complete and you are free to enjoy your refreshed cabinets!

Hello, I’m Annie Sloan, welcome to my studio! So this is laminate. You know it, it’s everywhere. It’s basically a plastic finish. So this is a nice one because it’s not too shiny. You can get some that are really, really shiny.

First thing you need to do is clean it. If it is really shiny, I know I always say don’t prime don’t sand, but I would just give this a little bit of a sand. This one is, as I say, is not too shiny so we’re all right. So can I paint laminate? Yes you can. That’s the answer, that’s it!

I’ve got some paint here, I’m going to do this Florence which is going to be a really gorgeous punch of colour. It’s been opened already so it’s a little on the thick side, so I’m just going to add a little bit of water. So that’s a little trick for you, for every time you open your pot of paint, you might find you just need to add a tiny bit of water if it’s been opened already. So now – good stir, good stir, good stir… so that all the water is mixed in properly with the paint.

So that’s pretty much done and now I’m going to start painting. I could if I wanted to do the first coat a little thinner, that’s up to you. I think because this isn’t too shiny I’m not going to bother. Oh gosh, that goes on beautifully! Look at that! Fabulous.

I’m just going to paint that up and down… beautiful! I shouldn’t say that about my own paint but it is rather gorgeous. I’m going to do a flat finish on this, I don’t want texture at all. I’m going to paint it and then spread it out nicely by feathering it. So I’ll get a coat on and then I’ll start feathering it.

Mixing the water in is incredibly important because if you don’t and you start lacquering afterwards, you might find you get it a little bit uneven and that’ll be because you haven’t mixed that well.

So up and down beautifully, go into the corners well, make certain you don’t get too heavy a build-up in those corners.

Last bit. So now I’ve got the paint all over, pretty good, and then I’m going to start the thing of just doing this lovely feathering. So along that way, along the sides as well to get rid of all the brush marks that you may have in there. And that’s it so the feathering thing is where the brush is it sort of a 90 degree angle and you’re doing that. Go across as well, that’s it. It’s going on beautifully.

If you need to do a second coat what I would do is leave it for quite a long time. Because laminate is not absorbent like most woods are very absorbent, the paint goes into the wood, this doesn’t. So it’s got to dry from the top and so it’ll take a little bit longer to dry. Make certain it’s completely dry especially around the edges, because that’s often where there’s a bit more build-up.

When it’s all finished, either wax or lacquer it by brush or with roller and that’ll be it! So in summary, when painting laminate the main points are; you might have to sand a little, leave longer to dry, and don’t over brush!

That’s it, three simple rules to remember. What I love about this is that you’ve taken something quite banal like laminate and turned it to something which is really, really unique. No one else is going to have this. Gorgeous!

Kitchens painted in Chalk Paint® look fabulous, last years, and can be easily updated.

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to paint laminate kitchen cabinets. It’s a simple way to update the heart of your home for a fraction of the cost of a kitchen refit. If you like the layout of your kitchen, but hate the colour of your cupboards, this is the how-to for you.

Chalk Paint® has exceptional sticking power. So with the right knowledge up your sleeve, you’ll be able to give your kitchen a makeover without having to remodel. This is also a great technique if you’ve just bought a new home and your budget won’t stretch to a whole new kitchen just yet. Whatever your motive for repainting your kitchen, there’s no reason to suffer a colour palette you don’t love!

Step by step guide to painting on laminate with Chalk Paint®

  1. The first step is to clean your cabinets. Kitchen cabinets are subjected to oils and greases from cooking, which need to be cleaned off before painting. To clean them, use warm soapy water only, avoiding any harsh chemicals that may react with the paint.
  2. If the laminate you’re painting is really shiny, give it a quick sanding. A light sanding ensures the paint has a textured surface to adhere to.
  3. Add a little water to your chosen Chalk Paint® colour if the paint is too thick. Just be sure to mix the water into the Chalk Paint® very thoroughly.
  4. Apply a coat of Chalk Paint®. Feather as you go to remove brush strokes. To feather, hold the brush at a 90 degree angle to the surface you are painting. Gently flick the brush backwards and forwards over the top of the paint. This will help you achieve a flat, untextured finish. Do not press hard or over brush. If you keep brushing once the paint has started to dry, you will begin to remove Chalk Paint® from the laminate rather than applying it.
  5. If you need a second coat of paint, make sure you leave plenty of time for the first coat to dry. Laminate isn’t as absorbent as wood so it will take longer to dry.
  6. One your paint has dried, it’s time to either wax or varnish your finish. You can choose Chalk Paint® Wax for a mellow finish. For extra durability, try Chalk Paint® Lacquer, which can be applied with a brush, roller or even spray gun.

Painting laminate kitchens needn’t be a headache. Now you know how, you can see how quickly the colour of your kitchen can be updated. And how cost effectively! If you’d like to try this technique, make sure you buy your materials from your local Annie Sloan Stockist. Every Stockist is trained to offer expert guidance and advice on everything from colour selection to painting techniques. Finally, if you’d like explore using varnish on your laminate, Annie has a tutorial on using Chalk Paint® Lacquer on cabinets for you too!

How to paint laminate cabinets

Replacing the full structure of the kitchen cabinets can be very costly. But if you refinish the cabinets then you can easily give a new look to your kitchen. Repainting is more affordable than replacing.

Painting laminate cabinets can be difficult as it requires many efforts to explore all the details because most of the paints do not stick on the laminate.

So, you have to be very careful in this case. Otherwise, you will suffer from loss. Laminate must be in good condition when you start painting it. Painting can be done with or without sanding.

Table of Contents

Painting Laminate Kitchen Cabinets Ideas

In this article, different ideas for painting laminate cabinets will be discussed. So, if you want your kitchen more attractive then keep reading this blog.

What Kind of Paint to Use on Laminate Cabinets?

Laminate is a thin layer of plastic that is coated over any kind of furniture. So, to be sure that painting will work efficiently, you should first select the appropriate paint for painting your laminate cabinets.

There is a need for paint that will stick on the surface of laminate cabinets. The best paint that has the nature to stick on anything easily is chalk paint and satin Enamels Paint. It makes an accurate primer that gives your cabinets a prettier look than before (when they look ugly).

So, when you have decided to paint your laminate cabinets then you should buy chalk paint and satin Enamels Paint.

How to Paint Laminate Cabinets?

You have to gather all the materials before starting to paint laminate cabinets. Like paint roller, brushes, painter’s tape, and tray, etc. Then you can do the task as follows:

  1. First of all, remove all the hardware to save it from any damage. You can also apply the tape on the doors to save it from any marks.
  2. Select a good primer to give a pretty finish to your kitchen cabinets.
  3. Clean the cabinets before applying the primer. Apply one coat of primer after completely cleaning it. And when the first coat gets dry, apply the second coat.
  4. After applying two coats of primer, it is time to apply the main course, i.e., paint the cabinets.
  5. After painting it, apply the top coat that is very necessary as it gives a neat look and eliminates all the brush strokes.

Painting Wood Laminate Cabinets White

Painting wood laminate cabinets white will give wood a unique and classy look. Do not yellow your laminate wood cabinets instead of white. You have to be careful when doing it, like usage of correct paint, brush roller, avoid brush strokes, and do not panic.

If you want to paint your wood laminate cabinets white, then you have to make sure that you are using the correct tools. In this way, you will get better consequences.

Painting Laminate Cabinets with Chalk Paint

Chalk paint is a type of paint that sticks on the object quickly and perfectly. Once you have gathered all the material, you can start the painting process as follows.

  1. First of all, you have to make sure that all the laminate is in a condition that is neither cracked nor peeled. If it is damaged then first repair it and then paint it.
  2. Clean the cabinets from any kind of debris or grease. Use a cutter to remove it.
  3. Apply the chalk paint on the doors of the cabinets with a roller. And if the roller is unable to reach any corner, then apply the paint with a brush on that area. After painting the doors, label them and remove them from frames.
  4. Now apply the chalky paint on the frames with a roller or brush. Same as done with the doors. Also, apply the paint on the back and edges of the cabinet doors.
  5. Now coat satin Enamels Paint on the frames and the doors in the same way as done with the chalk paint. You can repeat a coat if you think that it is not neat. And wait for the paint to try and re-attach the doors of the cabinets. You are good to go as you have a new and attractive look in your kitchen.

Painting Laminate Cabinets with Rustoleum

The Rustoleum makes it very easy to paint cabinets. The replacing can be very costly, but painting laminate cabinets is a very inexpensive idea when you are low on budget.

For updating the laminate cabinets, it is a very good solution to use a Rustoleum kit. It will transform the cabinets and you will be very happy to see it. Do it as follow:

  1. First of all, label the hardware and detach it to avoid any stains on it.
  2. Prepare the cabinets by cleaning them with a tack cloth.
  3. Apply the first coat of the Rustoleum paint and wait until it soaks. Then apply the second coat.
  4. Do not apply on both sides of the hardware at once. Wait after applying it on one side and then do it on the other side.
  5. After this attach the doors again and enjoy a new look.

Peeling Laminate Cabinets

Peeling laminate cabinets is necessary because not all the paint sticks easily on laminate. Peeling will rough the finish and the adhesive can easily fix on it.

You can use a scrubber to peel the laminate cabinets. It will remove the old adhesive and hence the new adhesive can easily make its place. The paint will not look rough when it is done after peeling it.

So, you can say if you have decided to paint your laminate cabinets then you have to make sure that you have used sandpaper or a scrubber to remove the old finish.

How to Refinish Laminate Cabinets?

Refinishing means giving a new look to your laminate cabinets by removing the old ones. Refinishing will cost you less than replacing the entire kitchen cabinets.

So, if you are fed up with the boring look of your kitchen cabinets or have purchased a new house that has rough laminate cabinets then you should refinish it as it will not put a burden on your pocket.

Just follow the steps mentioned for painting laminate cabinets in the article and you will easily refinish the cabinets. Good Luck!

Posted on Published: June 9, 2016 By: Author [email protected]

A contractor once told me that it was almost as expensive to PAINT CABINETS as it was to buy inexpensive new cabinets! WHATTTT! Sure enough, I had more than one person confirm this statement so I thought it had to be true. Actually, it can be very expensive to have someone update laminate kitchen cabinets with paint. That’s why I decided to tackle this project myself. Let me show you how to paint laminate kitchen cabinets the right way without sanding.

How to paint laminate cabinets

Disclosure; this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This does not affect the price you pay. This disclosure statement refers to the rest of the Amazon links in this post. See more on my disclosure page.

What kind of paint should you use to paint laminate cabinets?

In a nutshell, if you use a good bonding primer, the type of paint won’t matter as much as long at it’s a good latex, oil based paint or performance paint.

For this project I’m using a Zinsser Bulls Eye primer with General Finishes Milk paint. Also don’t forget to apply a good top coat or sealer.

Below is what the Island cabinets looked like before I painted them. Yucky brown laminate cabinets!

How to paint laminate cabinets

Materials to paint laminate cabinets:

HOW TO PAINT LAMINATE KITCHEN CABINETS:

  1. Remove the hardware. Please don’t hate me, but my laziness got the best of me and I did do something I regret; I did not remove the cabinets before painting. I DID tape the hardware and the areas inside the cabinets with blue painters tape.
  2. When you paint LAMINATE Kitchen CABINETS you need a good primer. Since laminate is a cheap surface that is often very slick and smooth, you need a product that will really “grip” and adhere to the cabinets. My go to primer and the best bonding primer for laminate surfaces is the Zinsser Primer, which covers all surfaces without the need of sanding.

How to paint laminate cabinets

3. Before you prime laminate cabinets, clean them really well. If there is a lot of dirt that a good wipe down won’t remove, you need to use a “degreaser” to make sure the surface is completely clean.

4. After wiping down the cabinets and making sure they are totally dry, apply one coat of Primer.

Below is a picture of the cabinets with only one coat of primer. Because the cabinets are laminate and the finish is a bit shiny, I realized it was going to take two coats of primer.

5. Apply second coat of Primer.

How to paint laminate cabinets

6. Now it’s time to paint. The picture above was taken after the first coat. I used a foam brush for this part to eliminate brush strokes and still decided to use three coats!

7. Next you need to apply a top coat (don’t skip this step). For any surface that receives a lot of use, you absolutely must use a top coat. Because I used the General Finishes Milk Paint, I decided to also used their High Performance water based satin top coat.

What is the best top coat or sealer for laminate cabinets or laminate surfaces?

My suggestion is to use a Polycrylic rather than a polyurethane. The polyurethane top coats are known for yellowing over time (especially when applied to white cabinets).I used this product on my other Painting Laminate cabinets part 2 post. The milk paint top coat sealer is very similar to a Polycrylic top coat.

A couple things to note for the laminate cabinet makeover;

  • You could get away with 1 coat of primer, 2 coats of paint, and 1 top coat and it will look great. However, I have two small kids and my kitchen Island gets A LOT of traffic, so I wanted to make sure the paint held up well.
  • The best way, in my opinion, to apply paint to cabinets with a good paint sprayer. I used a paint sprayer when I painted the rest of my cabinets. That being said, using the old paint brush and can give you good results too. I used a foam brush to apply the paint to minimize brush strokes and I think it turned out well.

Video on how to paint laminate kitchen cabinets

Since this post I painted the rest of our laminate cabinets without using primer. You can decide for yourself how it turned out. You can also see my entire kitchen update with the painted laminate cabinets before and after for under $4k.

How to paint laminate cabinets

After about a year of living with our painted laminate cupboards, I wrote a comprehensive review on how our painted laminate cabinets have held up; with primer and without. You’ll definitely want to read this before you give you reface your laminate cabinets.

It’s always a good idea to explore all your painting options before you dive into a big project like painting cabinets. Also, I hope you can learn from my mistakes! LOL.

I hope this post has been a huge help for those of you wanting to dive into a big project like this. Painting laminate surfaces can be done!

I promise that anyone can transform a drab kitchen with just a few coats of paint. You don’t have to be a pro painter to complete this project, and I guarantee you won’t regret it!

Seriously, if I can make a cheap veneer sticker look good with just a few coats, anyone can!

Posted on Published: October 22, 2020 By: Author [email protected]

Well folks I’m at it again; another painting laminate cabinet post. This time I’m sharing all the details on how to REPAINT laminate cabinets. This was another question from a reader that said they couldn’t find a lot of straight forward information. I thought maybe I could shed some light on this subject.

How to paint laminate cabinets

Before we dive into how to paint laminate, it’s always a good idea to know exactly what the surface is made of that you’re painting. I want to make it clear that laminate is a printed surface that’s made of plastic.

That being said, since we are discussing how to repaint laminate it’s going to be just as important to know what type of paint is on the surface.

This is important to know because if your laminate cabinets have been previously painted with an oil based paint, you’ll need to apply a bonding primer first before you apply a water based paint (same goes for water based paint to oil based paint too). I detailed a post a while ago on how to know if the previous paint is oil based or water based and how to choose the right paint.

Disclosure; this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This does not affect the price you pay. This disclosure statement refers to the rest of the Amazon links in this post. See more on my disclosure page.

How do you know if the previous paint is oil based or water based?

You can do a simple test to decipher if it’s oil or water based. Pour a bit of acetone (nail polish remover) on a rag and wipe the surface with it. If the old paint rubs off on the rag then it’s latex or water based. If it doesn’t wipe off then it’s oil based.

Since oil and water don’t mix, figuring out WHAT TYPE of paint is on the surface is a must.

How to repaint laminate cabinets

  • Clean the cabinets with a good cleaner or degreaser and let it dry
  • Sand the surface lightly with a fine grit sanding block
  • Wipe the surface down with a tack cloth or lint free cloth to make sure the surface is smooth and clean
  • Next determine what type of paint you are going to use. If you are going to apply water based paint over oil based paint or vise versa then you need to apply a good bonding primer first. It’s best to repaint the cabinets with the same type of paint that was previously used but if you don’t know what type of paint was previously used, it’s best to start with a primer. You can skip this step if you are using the same type of paint.
  • Apply 1-2 coats of primer if needed and let it fully dry
  • Apply 1-2 coats of your paint of choice and let it fully dry
  • Apply a good top coat (I’m a believer in a good top coat for a high traffic surface)

What’s the best type of paint to use to repaint laminate cabinets?

As long as you’ve prepared the surface correctly (cleaned, sanded and primed (if needed), any good quality paint should work as long as it is compatible with the previous primer or paint. There are lots of paints on the market that are designed to work with laminate surfaces.

You can see where I used a cabinet paint from Ace Hardware to paint our laminate cabinets in our old house.

How to paint laminate cabinets

I also used General Finishes milk paint to paint our laminate kitchen cabinet island.

How to paint laminate cabinets

I wish I had more of a straightforward answer but there isn’t a right or wrong way to repaint laminate cabinets. Just make sure that the paint that you are applying over the previous paint is compatible.

If you need more help I’ve got a handful of other posts on how to paint laminate surfaces.

Also, it’s probably a good idea to check out my list of Do’s and Don’t for painting laminate surfaces. I’ve had a lot of successes, but I’ve also had a lot of fails and I’ve shared all about it so you won’t make the same mistakes I did!

If you’ve read this far then you’re probably ready to get started repainting your kitchen cabinets. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.

New kitchen countertops can be an expensive upgrade. Transform your kitchen without breaking the bank by priming and painting your existing laminate counters.

How to paint laminate cabinets

How to Paint Laminate Countertops

Transform an old kitchen countertop without removing it. We show you how to make a big impact without a big investment.

Photo by: Jalynn Baker

Related To:

How to Paint Laminate Countertops 04:21

Materials Needed

  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • painter’s tape
  • 9-inch paint roller
  • 9-inch foam roller cover
  • paint tray
  • primer for glossy surfaces
  • water-based acrylic paint for countertops
  • high-gloss acrylic topcoat paint
  • mineral spirits (for cleaning up)
  • latex or nitrile gloves
  • high-quality trim brush
  • orbital sander (optional)

Choose Your Supplies

If you want to make a big impact in your kitchen without a big investment, consider priming and painting your laminate countertops. Your local paint store can supply you with the best type of paint to use in this project. Many recommend a water-based acrylic primer, paint and top coat. Acrylic paint dries to provide the hard surface needed for heavy-use areas like countertops, while water-based acrylic paint cleans up with water and is low on odors. Either way, you’ll want to create proper ventilation in your kitchen while painting. Turn on a fan or open a screened window.

If your final countertop color is dark, you may want to ask your paint supplier to add a tint to your primer. Paint store employees will know if this is necessary. Simply explain your project and final color and let them make the decision. Make sure your primer and paint are well mixed. You can have the store do this or use a stirring stick at home.

It’s a good idea to have more roller covers than you think you’ll need. Purchase more than enough and return what you don’t use to the store later. For smooth surfaces like countertops, a foam roller cover is recommended for a smooth finish.

Sand Countertop Surface

It’s a good idea to sand any surface before painting it. Use a fine-grit (200 to 220) sandpaper to remove any rough spots on your countertop and backsplash. An electric sander will make this job go much faster (Image 1). Use a sanding block to get the edges of the counter (Image 2). Once the entire area is sanded, pour some mineral spirits onto a lint-free cotton rag and remove the dust (Image 3). Allow the mineral spirits to dry and run your hands over the surface to make sure it’s smooth and clean. Any dust left on the counter will be rough to the touch once it’s painted over.