Can Laminate Cabinets Be Painted?

Homeowners who want durable, attractive, and low-maintenance cabinetry often choose laminate over wood. The wide variety of styles and colors means there’s a laminate option for almost every home, but like most things, even laminate cabinets can eventually look worse for wear.

As a leader in kitchen remodeling in Michigan, one of the most common questions we get is, “Can laminate cabinets be painted?” The short answer is yes, but it can be a tricky project. This guide covers some of the basics you need to know before painting laminate so you can decide whether to give your cabinets a facelift or invest in new ones when upgrading the kitchen.

What Is Laminate?

Laminate is an engineered product with a solid core, typically wood or wood particles compressed with melamine, covered by a thin printed layer attached using a clear coat or thermal processes. The result is a hard and sturdy material that resists rotting and warping. 

The printed layer is what gives laminate cabinetry its versatility. Manufacturers offer laminate products in different colors and patterns, even some that resemble natural wood. However, over time, wear and tear or changing styles and trends may have you wanting a different look for the kitchen and wondering, “Can laminate cabinets be painted?” 

Why Homeowners Want To Paint Laminate 

When you remodel a kitchen, new cabinets take up the biggest chunk of the budget — up to 30%, by most estimates. If you don’t have a lot of cash to spend or have other priorities for the remodel, keeping the existing cabinetry and giving it a new paint job may be appealing. 

Ultimately, if you don’t need to change the layout of the cabinets and they are in good condition structurally, a fresh coat of paint may be the perfect solution, and adding new hardware can help give them a different look for a fraction of what you would spend on new.

However, if you’re changing the room layout, the current cabinets don’t offer the storage or function you need, or they are damaged or falling apart, it doesn’t matter how many layers of paint you add. The cabinets simply won’t work in the next space, and you need to invest in new ones. 

How To Paint Laminate 

Now that you know the answer to, “Can laminate cabinets be painted?” is “yes,” you’re probably wondering how to go about it. Because the surface isn’t as porous as wood, it requires a bit more time and work to achieve a smooth surface on laminate kitchen cabinets

The first step is to remove the doors and carefully mark their locations on the hinge to make reinstallation easier. After thoroughly cleaning the doors and cabinet boxes, you need to sand the surface to rough it up so the paint can adhere. It will be much harder to achieve a smooth and even finish if you skip this step, and the paint will bubble, peel, and flake off after it dries. 

When sanding the surface, you only need to remove enough of the top coat to create a slight layer of dust. You don’t want to remove the entire top coat or expose the core, which will damage the laminate. 

After sanding, apply a coat of primer and sand again. Then, brush or roll on the first coat of paint, allow it to dry, sand it, and apply the second coat. After the second coat, it might appear that the paint dried, but it needs at least a week to cure before you reinstall the hardware and hang the doors again to ensure the finish doesn’t scratch. 

Because painting laminate is a time-consuming project, and using the wrong products or techniques can affect the results, many homeowners leave laminate cabinet painting and refinishing to the professionals. Keep in mind that although the cabinets may look different with a new color or hardware, they’ll have the same amount of storage and function as before. 

Talk to Cabinet Creations About Your Kitchen Remodeling Options 

Although the answer to, “Can laminate cabinets be painted?” is “yes,” before you dive headfirst into the project, explore all your options and consider whether new custom cabinetry might be a better choice. Cabinet Creations works with homeowners throughout southwest Michigan to provide fresh cabinet designs and reliable installation and can help you choose the best kitchen cabinet finish and style to achieve the look you want. 

So before you head to the paint store, call 248-618-3332 to schedule a consultation with Cabinet Creations and see how we can upgrade your home. 

Kirk Richardson
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