Painting over melamine has become easier in recent years with the introduction of a number of melamine paints. Melamine paints are a combination of a urethane product and an oil-based paint. Because the paint is oil based, it is a little more difficult to work with than other paints and also has to be cleaned up using a solvent or paint thinner. Oil-based paints also take longer to dry than latex paints. The advantage of this type of paint is its ability to stick to slick surfaces, like melamine, and also its durability.
Clean the melamine thoroughly using trisodiumphosphate cleaner. TSP cleaners are available at most hardware stores. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to dilute the TSP with water.
Sand the melamine using medium-grit sandpaper. The object of this exercise is to create some texture on the melamine's surface. Texture will allow the primer to adhere to the surface. Wipe off the sanding dust with a damp rag.
Use a good quality brush to apply primer to the melamine in a smooth, even coat. Use a primer formulated for slick surfaces. Glidden Gripper is a great product that adheres well to melamine. Allow the primer to dry completely.
Sand the melamine's surface lightly using fine-grit sandpaper. Wipe away the sanding dust with a damp rag.
Paint the melamine using a paintbrush recommended by the paint manufacturer. Some melamine paints are applied using natural-bristled brushes while others use a synthetic material. Apply two to three thin coats of paint rather than one thick coat. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next.
The paint may take up to 48 hours to fully cure. Avoid heavy use until the paint is cured. If scratches occur, use an artist's brush or small trim brush to touch up the marred area.