Can veneer-covered cabinets be painted over?

Written by helen jain | 13/05/2017
Can veneer-covered cabinets be painted over?
Painting veneer-covered cabinets is possible. (cabinet image by Charles Taylor from

Veneer is a type of thin covering usually glued to a lower-quality material to create a finished surface. Kitchen and bathroom cabinets often have a veneer covering, usually in wood, over the base material. When the veneer starts to look a little old, dated or when the colour does not suit personal tastes, painting the cabinets will change the appearance.

Clean the Cabinets

Soap and water can be used to clean the cabinets. Owners also can use a cleaning agent designed for wooden or veneered cabinets. Remove any grease or dirt from the cabinets before starting the project. For laminate or similar materials, tougher cleaning agents are appropriate.

Sand the Surface

Use a 150- to 200-grit sandpaper and rub it lightly over the cabinets. This will prepare the surface for painting by allowing better adherence. Use sandpaper on any type of veneer. Rub lightly and along the grain if the cabinet veneer is wooden.

Primer Application

Apply a primer. This Old House recommends spray-applied primers for laminate materials. Painted-on primers are also appropriate, though they are best used with wooden veneers rather than laminate. Primer prevents the old colour from bleeding through the new colour and is especially important when putting a lighter paint over a darker veneer.

Paint the Cabinet

Once the primer is completely dry, which takes anywhere from a few hours to overnight depending on the specific product, the paint is ready to go on. Apply a thin coat of paint to the cabinets. Paint over the thin coat with another thin coat and gradually build up to the preferred paint thickness.

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