How to paint kitchen cupboards using melamine paint

Updated July 19, 2017

Many homeowners use melamine paint to update their kitchen cabinets. Melamine is a compound made of carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen. Known for its strength, excellent adhesion qualities and ability to create very smooth surfaces, melamine is used in a variety of products, including whiteboards, plastics, dishware, countertops, kitchen cabinets and paint. For the homeowner who wants to repair minor cabinet imperfections or who wants to have cabinets that are stain resistant and easy to clean, melamine paint can be a great choice.

Buy the amount of paint and primer that you'll need for your project. To determine how much to buy, measure the height, width and length of the areas of the cabinet you will be painting. One gallon of paint (or primer) generally covers 400 square feet of wall or cabinet with one coat. Keep in mind that you'll probably want to cover the cabinets with at least two or three coats of paint and one coat of primer. When you purchase the paint, read the instructions to see whether the manufacturer recommends using a brush or a sponge applicator to apply the paint. If none is recommended, a high quality brush that is about 2 ½ to 3 inches is a good option.

Remove all items from the cabinet. Wipe the inside of the cabinets, even if you don't paint them. Use drop clothes to protect floors and all other nonpainted areas. Next, remove the cabinet doors and find a place to lay them flat. Make note of where they should be put back when you rehang them. Take all screws and hardware out and place them in a drawer or other safe place.

Use liquid or powder trisodium phosphate (TSP) to degrease the cabinets. Because TSP can be harmful, follow instructions very carefully and use gloves to protect your hands. When finished, dry the cabinet doors thoroughly.

To help the paint and primer adhere to the surface properly, rub the cabinet with 80-grit sandpaper. While this might take some time, it will help the paint job last a lot longer than it would have otherwise. Apply an oil-based or melamine-based primer to the cabinet doors and other areas that will be painted. Wait for the primer to dry. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Sometimes primer seems dry to the touch, but isn't ready for additional painting or sanding. When finished, sand the surface again with 240-grit sandpaper.

Apply the melamine paint. Paint in even vertical strokes for a nice sheen. Apply the paint thinly for professional results. Allow the cabinets to dry completely, then apply another thin coat. After the cabinets dry again, apply the third coat.


After the cabinets are thoroughly dry, rehang them and replace the hardware. It will take time for the cabinet to be fully cured (hardened), so avoid washing the cabinets for a few weeks, if possible.

Things You'll Need

  • Melamine paint
  • Melamine- or oil-based primer
  • Paint brush or sponge applicator
  • Dust sheets
  • Trisodium phosphate (liquid or powder form)
  • Rags
  • Gloves
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Nicole Chantal has 10 years of experience writing technical and business materials for government contracting companies. As a freelancer, she enjoys writing technical, business, home improvement and academic articles. Nicole earned her Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Maryland and is currently pursuing a master's degree in digital media.