Painting cheap cabinets

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Has anyone ever painted "pressboard" cabinets? They have a wood look paper on them. Replacing is not an option at this time, but I want a "clean and new" look until then. Results and product used would also be helpful.
q painting cheap cabinets, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting, painting cabinets, As you can see on the third drawer there is some wear and tear
As you can see on the third drawer, there is some wear and tear.
  19 answers
  • Timothy J Champion Timothy J Champion on Nov 21, 2015
    I would use a good gripper primer or lacquer undercoat or primer and a good oil base spray it on with a sprayer light coats
  • Jan Jan on Nov 21, 2015
    You cannot paint a paper-covered pressboard with any thing other than an oil-based paint. Do NOT use a latex or any water-based paint as it will bubble under the paper. A good oil-based paint & primer (there are combos out there) will do the job. Oil-based paint smells bad and you will need a lot of ventilation, but the result should look good as oil-based paint lays out nicely. This will also take longer to dry than water-based paint.
  • Nancy Shore-Goldwire Nancy Shore-Goldwire on Nov 21, 2015
    Other than the suggestions for oil base paint, you can try Chalk paint
  • Lydia Lydia on Nov 21, 2015
    I used a primer then latex paint. Lasted for 13 years. We just did a remodel and removed all these painted cabinets and actually had people who took them for their home installation.
  • Nostromo Nostromo on Nov 21, 2015
    As Jan noted above, painting a papered surface is generally NOT a good idea, and will have mixed results at best. I'd be thinking about resurfacing the cabinets with some kind of thin veneer or even Formica. Oh, and you needn't have to replace the cabinets. You could just replace the doors and hardware. If you're good with a jigsaw and/or circular saw, you could do the whole kitchen with two 4x8 sheets of furniture-grade birch sandply. Est. price less whatever finish you choose: 70 bucks (assuming you use the old hardware).
  • Gabrielle Falk Gabrielle Falk on Nov 22, 2015
    Are you able to keep the cabinets, except the doors, and just replace the doors. I know in the US of A you have a multitude of places/shops that should be able to help. Another thought; if you contact a kitchen reno. company, you never know what they may have 'out the back' so to speak; or have a look at some of your local web-sites ie maybe people selling cabinet doors, or perhaps demolition companies who quite often keep anything re-saleable. I would be very hesitant to paint a 'papered surface'. I don't think it would last too long in a working area like the kitchen. I have seen tho' in some of the decoration magazines here in Australia, where those wishing to renovate, and can't afford to at that particular time, go the old fashioned style, in keeping with the style of the home. ie beautiful checked curtains for 'cabinet doors'. Like 'cafe' curtains, on a beautiful rod, with curtain rings or hooks. That would look very pretty, and be heaps cheaper, perhaps, than replacing the doors, Anyway. The best of luck. Gabrielle from Sydneyxo
  • Carol Fredette Carol Fredette on Nov 22, 2015
    I used contact paper. The same pattern as the cabinets. I sanded down the doors and used mod podge to make sure the paper stayed stuck. been 6 mos now and still look good. easy to keep clean.
  • Hope Williams Hope Williams on Nov 22, 2015
    Hi Patricia. Since you are painting them, you can make new doors out of plywood. It's cheap and will hold up much better than painting what you have. It truly is not difficult to do either. Just keep them numbered, in order and placement after complete will be a breeze.
  • For this type of photo-printed surface I would use an oil based primer. If you use a latex primer, you stand the chance of it wetting the coating of the cabinets and peeling and bubbling of the exisiting finish. Zinsser has many primers on the market which you can use. I also would like to recommend, but have not tried on this type of finish, is the Behr Marquee paint at Home Depot. It is thicker and has special primers in it plus you would do very thin coats and work small areas at a time. I have tried Marque on a small project and was amazed at the results. A gallon of paint will more than do your cabinets and an investment of $50 or so would dramatically improve your kitchen. Your existing pulls could be spray painted to update them for about $6. Good luck!
  • Paul Paul on Nov 22, 2015
    Chalk paint get the good stuff. Annie Sloan
  • Laurie Brennan Laurie Brennan on Nov 22, 2015
    Cabinets similar to yours that I did with chalk paint. My son couldn't afford to replace his cabinets so I painted with Annie Sloan Graphite with white wax over. No prep beyond a good cleaning first.
  • Mmeske Mmeske on Nov 22, 2015
    I have these in my kitchen and I lightly sanded then used two coats oil based primer, sanding lightly between coats. Then used several thin coats Rust-o-Leum white enamel.
  • Judi Judi on Nov 22, 2015
    Zinsser puts out a product called B-I-N Primer Ultimate Stain Blocker. I have used it before on cheap cabinets - works great. Can be found at Home Depot and have seen it at my local WalMart.
  • Lesley Lesley on Nov 23, 2015
    I agree with the comment about using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I painted a plasticky vinyl covered cabinet, it was black with a sheet of opaque plastic in the door. Now my friends are amazed! The brush strokes have given it texture so it looks as though it has wood grain. I covered the opaque panel with a panel of wallpaper, now it looks vintage! I did lightly sand the unit first although ASCP say's you don't have too. However, if you are after a more modern look you could try spray painting this cabinet but spray painting requires a whole set of circumstances you may not have, lots of outdoor space, good ventilation, ideally a tent of some sort to prevent overspray and bugs/dust landing on it. But if you go this route, I would also recommend the BIN primer products.
  • Patricia Linn Patricia Linn on Nov 23, 2015
    Thank you to those that answered. I will decide what I'm doing and post pictures once I'm done.
    • Hope Williams Hope Williams on Nov 24, 2015
      Hi Patricia Linn. Please do share your afters. Even though you have marked your question satisfied, it will continue to cycle and get responses. It just works that way. You can ignore them if you choose to. I hope your happy with your finished with your cabinets! 😀
  • Deb Hall Deb Hall on Nov 29, 2015
    I sanded rough spots and primed then painted with 2coats high gloss paint. Turned out great
  • Char Char on Jan 22, 2018
    I painted pressed wood cabinet boxes with paper veneer that has solid wood doors over 10 years ago no scratches scrapes or dings to this point. Looks as good as the Ist day. I lightly sanded the entire cabinet surface to remove gloss or residue to assure good paint adherence. Then applied semi gloss paint by Sherwin Williams. This application has proven to be very durable.
  • Staci Davis Staci Davis on Feb 12, 2021

    I sanded mine and then painted them with kilnz paint and mod podged recipe pages and spay painted the hardware. Totaly old 70's mobile home cabinets. 2 years and they still look good.

  • Ted Thornton Ted Thornton on Mar 01, 2021

    Try Lowes or Home Depot for wood peel and stick sheeting on rolls. Usually in lumber section. Or peel and stick vinyl planks or tiles. Either case you must clean and prime osb or paticle board or it will not stick. Painting doesnt work well on osb or particle board. It absorbs tons of paint. You could cover it with cheap luan or 1/4 inch paneling first. Cut to fit remenant vinyl sheeting works nice to. Id caulk joints and edges to. Good luck

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