How to paint melamine board

Updated November 21, 2016

Melamine is a non-porous hard-wearing plastic often used as a coating on shelving and cupboard doors. Applying paint to melamine can be disappointing unless you pay particular attention to surface preparation. For best results, eliminate the sheen, use a high adhesion primer and re-coat using melamine paint. These instructions are for painting a melamine board but can be applied to painting melamine shelving and laminate counter tops.

Purchase your primer and paint. Buy the best quality you can afford to achieve optimal results. Choose a high-adhesion stain-blocking latex primer and a high-quality melamine paint in a satin, semigloss or gloss finish.

Prepare your work area. Use newspapers or dust sheets to protect the floor and any furniture.

Sand the melamine board using 120- or 180-grit sandpaper to roughen up the shiny melamine surface. Wear a dust mask.

Wash the board with trisodium phosphate (TSP) or an alternative. TSP is a harsh chemical, so follow package directions carefully and use rubber gloves. TSP will clean all grease and stubborn dirt from the board and will further roughen its surface.

Rinse the board thoroughly and allow it to dry completely.

Lay the board flat on saw horses or another support that allows you to access the edges of the board.

Apply a thin coat of high-adhesion primer to the edges of the board using a paintbrush. Brush out any drips. Prime the front of the board using a high-density foam roller. Again, apply a thin coat. Start at one end of the board and work toward the other end. Allow the primer to dry fully. Paint the reverse side of the board and allow it to dry completely.

Apply a first coat of melamine paint to the edges of the board using a paintbrush. Do not apply paint thickly and watch for any drips or runs. Paint the flat surfaces with the foam roller. Apply a thin coat by rolling the paint smoothly and evenly from one end of the board to the other end. Be careful not to overwork the paint or roll back into paint that already is drying. Let the board to dry before turning it over to paint the reverse side. Allow the second side to dry.

Apply a second and third coat of paint according to the method outlined for the first coat of paint.

Allow your newly painted board to fully cure before using it. Curing times will be listed on the paint can. Extra curing time may be required if you are in a cool or humid environment.


Experiment on a small, hidden area of your project to test paint adhesion. Refine your method based on the results. Stir primer and paint thoroughly before beginning and at regular intervals during painting. This will ensure the product components are well-mixed and will maximise your results. Check the melamine paint can for recommendations on drying and re-coating times. Follow these directions to avoid problems with your paint surface.


Always work in a well-ventilated area, but avoid strong breezes that will cause the paint to dry unevenly and result in cracking or adhesion problems.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper (120- or 180-grit)
  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Rags
  • Newspapers or dust sheets
  • Saw horses (optional)
  • Primer
  • Melamine paint
  • Paintbrush (polyester or nylon bristle)
  • High-density foam roller
  • Rubber gloves
  • Dust mask
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About the Author

Jennifer Dawson is a Canadian researcher and writer who started freelancing in 2007. Specializing in environment and health topics, her work has appeared in “The Health Journal,” "Nutrition and Your Health," "Alternatives" and “Together Family.” Dawson has a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in anthropology from McMaster University.