How to Make White Melamine Cabinets Look Good

Written by christopher hall
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White melamine cabinets are cheap but have little style. Painting them will make them look like totally different, stylish cabinets. Whether or not you decide painting is the right project for you, replacing the knobs and pulls on your cabinets can make your cabinets look really good, really fast. Take the time to find eye catching knobs and pulls to complement your new paint job or, if you decide not to paint, to take attention away from boring white melamine.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Dust sheet
  • TSP Trisodium Phosphate
  • 80 - 100 grit sandpaper
  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Paint rollers
  • High quality primer
  • Melamine paint
  • Cabinet knobs
  • Cabinet pulls

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    Painting Melamine Cabinets

  1. 1

    Take the cabinet doors off their hinges and lay them on a flat surface covered with a dust sheet. Unscrew the knobs and pulls and lay them to one side, carefully saving the screws and all pieces together. This will make your work much easier.

  2. 2

    Wash the cabinet doors with TSP. Mix the TSP with water according to manufacturer's directions. Use gloves when washing with TSP. TSP can be found in paint supply stores and in painting sections of hardware stores. It is a professional grade degreaser which prepares your surface for painting.

  3. 3

    Use 80 - 100 grit sandpaper to roughen the surface of the melamine cabinets. Use tack cloth to remove any dust. Tack cloth can be found in hardware stores in the woodworking section.

  4. 4

    Use a paint roller to apply a high-quality melamine primer. Allow to dry. This usually takes 4 hours, but times may vary depending on the brand you choose. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.

  5. 5

    Lightly sand the cabinet surface with 220 grit sandpaper. Wipe away any dust that forms with tack cloth.

  6. 6

    Apply melamine paint. Use the type of brush or roller recommended by the manufacturer. Often this is a paint roller, but some manufacturers recommend a natural bristle brush, and some recommend a foam brush.

  7. 7

    Allow to dry for 16 hours and apply a second coat. Allow this coat to dry again for 16 hours and apply one more thin coat.

    Replace Cabinet Knobs and Pulls

  1. 1

    Take time to shop around for knobs and pulls. If you have decided to paint your cabinets, it's worth the time and effort to replace the cabinet knobs and pulls with something that will blend in with the new look. If you decide to forgo painting, finding a style of cabinet knobs that are really stunning can make the entire cabinet look new.

  2. 2

    Choose one or two styles you like and take them home to try them out in your kitchen. An entire new set of knobs and pulls can be pricey. It is worth the extra step to try a few out first and see which one looks perfect in your kitchen.

  3. 3

    Unscrew all the old knobs and pulls. If you have painted the cabinet doors, this step will have already been done. One by one, try the knobs and pulls you have selected.

  4. 4

    When you have chosen the perfect knob and pull set for your kitchen, buy enough for your entire kitchen and install them on your cabinets.

Tips and warnings

  • Apply three thin coats rather then two thick coats.
  • Allow final coat to dry for two days before handling for best results. The cabinets will be touch dry in a couple hours, but will take two days to cure.
  • It is not as simple to paint melamine surfaces as it is to paint wood surfaces. You should be confident in your painting abilities before you attempt this project.

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