5 Top Tips For Painting Laminate Cabinets

Painted cupboards in the utility room

I have seen many people paint their kitchen cabinets over the years, however the cabinets have always been wood. But what if the cabinets you’re painting are laminate? Can you paint laminate cabinets? I have been giving our utility room a makeover in the last few weeks and the laminate cabinets were a bit dated but sound. I didn’t want to spend a fortune replacing them all right now, so I decided to see whether painting laminate cabinets was possible.

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Tip 1: Use the Right Paint for Laminate Cabinets

My nervousness around painting laminate is around the fact that it’s plastic – which paint tends not to stick to very well. Also, because it’s plastic, you can’t really sand it, to give it a ‘key’ for the paint to stick to. While I have seen people successfully remove the vinyl covering on their cabinet doors and paint the MDF underneath, MDF doesn’t do well when it gets wet, so I didn’t want to do this here.

So what can you do? well, you can use a primer such as Zinsser BIN, which is formulated to help paint pretty much anything. Once primed, you can use your paint of choice. Or, you could use a specially formulated chalk and mineral paint such as the Frenchic Alfresco range, which is designed to be used pretty much anywhere, and doesn’t need priming first. I decided to use Frenchic, as I have recently painted the tiles in the utility room with this paint and I am delighted with the results!

tin of frenchic paint - suitable for painting laminate cabinets.

Tip 2 – Prepare Properly For Painting

As there is no need to sand the cabinets, the first thing is to remove all the doors and drawer fronts and all of the handles. Next, thoroughly clean the cabinet frames and edges and all of the door and drawer fronts. Preferably use sugar-soap, to ensure that any dirt and grease is removed.

Tip 3 – Take Your Time When Painting Your Laminate Cabinets

Once everything is thoroughly clean, you can start painting. I painted all the edges and sides of the cupboards first. I chose to only paint the visible edges for my cabinets, as once the doors are in place, most of the cabinet edges are not actually visible. So that meant I painted the end panels and 1 door edge as this was visible:

For painting, I used a foam roller as this rolls paint on to the laminate cabinets smoothly and gives a good finish. I used a paint brush for the cutting-in around the edges of the walls and backsplash. I am a confident painter so I didn’t use painter’s tape. It’s best to apply a few thin coats rather than try to put 1 really thick coat of paint on. As the cabinet edges etc. have to be painted in situ, you want to avoid any drips of paint if possible.

To paint the drawer and door fronts, I laid them down flat propped on a couple of pieces of scrap wood. This was so that I could also paint around the side edges easily. The Frenchic paint can be re-coated after 2 hours, so it was pretty quick to paint all the doors once I got going. I used a paintbrush to go around the inside edges of the shaker doors so they were fully covered. As you can see below, the paint gives a lovely smooth, even coverage.

Tip 4 – Follow The Paint Manufacturer’s Instructions

As per the Frenchic instructions, once I had given everything 2 coats of paint and it was nice and even, I waited 48 hours for the paint to dry. I then re-attached all the doors and drawer fronts. Frenchic is self-sealing, so there is no need to add a finishing coat or varnish. It takes about 2 weeks to fully harden – after which the doors should be pretty resistant to scratches and scrapes. It’s been about 10 days so far for mine, but so far, so good!

The freshly painted laminate cabinets in a shade of light grey.

Tip 5 – Admire Your Handiwork!

I can’t believe I have completely transformed my tired old utility room for the price of a tin of paint! Painting laminate cabinets is definitely possible and a relatively simple DIY task. It just requires the right paint and a bit of patience. It’s definitely worth giving it a go if your budget is tight.