How to Refinish White Melamine Cupboards

Melamine is a plastic material that appears in a huge number of homes because of its low cost and high durability. Used mainly for laminate kitchen cabinets and counters, it used to be difficult to refinish. Now, however, primers and paints have been developed that make refinishing melamine cabinets possible. According to the group of professionals at, you can use the following method to paint melamine cupboards.

Cover all surfaces and any other areas you do not want to paint with a dust sheet or newspapers. Tape off the cabinets where they are mounted to the wall so you do not get paint on the wall surfaces.

Remove the cabinet doors by taking the screws out of the hinges. Remove the hinges, handles, door pulls and any other hardware from the doors and put them in a safe place. Alternatively, get new hardware to further update your kitchen's look.

Clean all surfaces to be painted. Scrub with a strong detergent, rinse thoroughly and let dry. Then use TSP, a degreasing cleaner, to remove any traces of grime or grease. Mix the TSP with water according to the directions on the package. Make sure you wear rubber gloves and wash the surfaces to be painted with the TSP solution. Allow to dry completely.

Sand the surfaces with 80- to 100-grit sandpaper. Carefully wipe up all the dust with the tack cloth.

Apply a coat of primer. Make sure the primer's label states that it is specifically for melamine priming. Allow the primer to dry according to the manufacturer's directions.

Scuff the surface of the dry primer lightly with a 240-grit or finer sandpaper. Remove all dust with tack cloth. This gives the paint more surface area to adhere to.

Paint the prepared surfaces with paint that is specifically made for covering melamine. Use a brush or rollers as recommended by the paint manufacturer. Paint using long, even strokes and consistent coverage. It is better to apply three thin coats than one or two thick ones. Be patient and wait the recommended time for drying between coats.

Rehang the cabinet doors once the paint is absolutely dry and cured. Sometimes this means waiting up to 16 hours or more, depending on the paint and humidity of the work environment.

Clean the old hardware or buy new ones. Refasten to doors then rehang the doors on the cabinets.


It is best to work in an area that will not be disturbed until the entire project is finished. If this is not possible in the kitchen, at least remove the unhinged doors to an area where they can lay horizontally until the paint is dry.


Use TSP, primer and paint only in a well-ventilated area. Always use rubber gloves when working with TSP. It is highly toxic and irritating to skin.

Things You'll Need

  • Dust sheet or newspapers
  • Painter's tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Rubber gloves
  • Detergent
  • Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)
  • Paper towels
  • Rags
  • 80- to 100-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Primer
  • 240-grit sandpaper
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes or rollers
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About the Author

Karren Doll Tolliver holds a Bachelor of English from Mississippi University for Women and a CELTA teaching certificate from Akcent Language School in Prague. Also a photographer, she records adventures by camera, combining photos with journals in her blogs. Her latest book, "A Travel for Taste: Germany," was published in 2015.