How to update melamine cabinets

If you are stuck with outdated melamine cabinets that are old, dingy and lifeless, consider updating them with a fresh coat of paint. A new colour and finish can restore the beauty and lustre to melamine, making it current. Special paints are available that are targeted specifically for melamine surfaces, but most oil paints will work just fine. Look for most of the supplies for this project in your local home improvement centre.

Tape off any areas with painter's tape that you want to remain paint-free. Remove the hardware from cabinets and set aside.

Sand the surface of the cabinets with fine-grade sandpaper to rough up the surface. Wipe off the dust with a clean, damp cloth. Allow to dry completely.

Apply one coat of oil-based primer to the cabinets with a brush or roller. Allow this coat to dry completely for at least 15 to 24 hours.

Apply one coat of oil-based paint to the surface of the cabinets. Allow it to dry for at least 15 to 24 hours before you apply another coat. Again, wait at least 15 to 24 hours for the second coat to dry.

Remove the painter's tape and re-attach the hardware using a screwdriver. Clean brushes with mineral spirits in a well-ventilated area.


Allow enough drying time between each individual coat of paint. Depending on factors such as the weather, It may take up to two weeks for the paint to not feel "tacky." Do not set anything on the shelves until the paint is completely dry.


Work in a well-ventilated area or run a fan to circulate the air.

Things You'll Need

  • Painter's tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Clean cloth
  • Water
  • Oil-based primer
  • Oil-based paint
  • Paint brushes and rollers
  • Mineral spirits
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About the Author

Valery Elias has been writing professionally since 2009. Her work has appeared in the "Savannah Business Journal," and she has experience as an independent secretarial contractor, proofreader and executive sales assistant for Fortune 500 companies. Elias has a Bachelor of Arts in English and American literature from the University of South Florida-Tampa.