Can You Paint Laminate Cabinets?

Written by garnet greene
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Can You Paint Laminate Cabinets?
(Plain Laminate Cabinets - Anita Patterson for Morguefile)

Stand-alone laminate cabinets are convenient and inexpensive storage options. They can be used in any home or business to store and organise all manners of possessions. Unfortunately, their plain utilitarian designs are often unattractive. Laminated cabinetry installed in kitchens and bathrooms may look good initially, but over time the cabinets may become scratched, or their original colours may simply go out of style. It's natural that a consumer would want to transform these eyesores into design winners.

Can Laminate Be Painted?

Laminate can be painted. Understand, however, that paint does not adhere well to laminated surfaces. With careful preparation you can paint laminate, but your paint job will not survive heavy use. If you have laminated countertops in a kitchen or bath, painting them will be a short-term solution. Eventually, the paint will chip or peel. Vertical surfaces that aren't touched will last longer. For instance, if you attach knobs to kitchen or bathroom cabinets and do not touch the paint, your surface could last indefinitely.

Prepare Your Laminate for Paint

Begin the process of painting a laminate surface by roughing it up. Use either traditional sandpaper or a chemical sandpaper, to eliminate the laminate's perfectly smooth surface.

Prime Your Surface

Apply a primer like Kilz to create a base for your paint to bond with. When your primer has dried thoroughly according to the manufacturer's instructions, you can paint your surface with acrylic paint.

Seal Your Paint

After applying two coats of paint, seal your surface with a tough topcoat like Zinsser Guardz. Zinsser Guardz is designed to seal and protect problematic surfaces. As noted previously, install handles and knobs wherever possible to avoid actual physical contact with the painted surface.

Hide Your Laminate

There is a simple solution to hide the surfaces of cabinet doors. Depending on your style, cover your cabinet doors with a thin wood veneer, wallpaper or stainless steel (roof flashing is a thin and cheap steel option). Then create a frame around these items with lightweight wood or synthetic moulding. Since many traditional cabinets have moulding details, your laminate cabinets may take on the appearance of classic cabinetry.


Instead of painting laminate surfaces, consider covering them with découpage. Dating as far back as the 12th century, découpage is the process of gluing paper or fabrics to an object to achieve a decorative effect. As a result of the scrapbooking craze, arts and crafts stores now carry an outstanding range of decorative papers. It's likely you can find paper in a design ideal for your decor. Craft stores also carry découpage mediums and all the related supplies and instructional materials necessary to learn about the technique.

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