How could I redo my ugly, laminated, kitchen cabinets?

by Sharon

Dear DIY,

I have had these lower kitchen cabinets for close to 30 years. I can't afford to reface them. Can I paint them? If so, what would I need to do so? Any advice would be helpful!


Old & Ugly

  11 answers
  • Cindy Hagemann Cindy Hagemann on Jul 25, 2018

    Paint will not stick to this material, but just adding knobs and pulls will make a huge difference.

  • Constance Constance on Jul 25, 2018

    Try thoroughly cleaning, taping off and painting the brown elements to match the laminate. Then add the new hardware if you like.

    I have had great success Krylon. Be careful when removing the doors. Since they are mostly particle board, the screw holes tend to strip their threads easily.

  • Kgr28949723 Kgr28949723 on Jul 25, 2018

    I had the same laminate cabinets. one way to dress them up is to attach mouldngs on the perimeter of the cabinets to add some interest. If you add border trim you can insert bead board in the interior for a cottage look.

    You can paint them but make sure you clean them really well, do a light sanding, and then apply a high quality primer. This day and age interior paints frequently come as both a paint and primer, but I have concluded that to paint over laminate requires a stand alone primer (two coats).

    Good luck!

    • See 1 previous
    • Sharon Sharon on Aug 08, 2018

      How would I attach the bead board and molding? Glue?

  • Laura Cooper Laura Cooper on Jul 25, 2018

    I would try Kilz primer on a small area, then wait a day or two for it to fully cure. Then use your thumb nail to try to scrape it off. If you holds up well, you are safe to prime everything and then paint. Kilz has excellent adhesion to most surfaces.

  • William William on Jul 25, 2018

    Anything can be painted.

    Make sure they are clean and dry. Remove the doors and hardware. Mark the doors and cabinets with tape where they go. Lightly sand the doors and cabinets to remove any gloss and roughen the surface for paint with 120- to 220-grit sandpaper. Use a tack cloth or damp rag to remove dust after sanding. Prime with a stain blocking primer like Zinsser 123, KILZ,or BIN and have it tinted to the color of the top coat. This will prevent dark or stained surfaces from showing through the top coat. Acrylic, or water-base, paints are low-fume and clean up easily with water. Alkyd, or oil-base, paints require good ventilation because the paint contains solvents that can irritate your lungs and make you feel sick. Alkyd options require mineral spirits for cleanup, but they provide a hard, durable paint finish. Whichever you use, buy the best-quality paint you can afford for a lasting kitchen cabinet finish. Seal with at least three coats with a water based polyurethane. Use a small foam roller and foam brush for a smooth finish.

  • O.shag O.shag on Aug 21, 2018

    Just wanted to show you what we did to those same type cabinets. Beadboard paneling in the middle,trim around, paint and (finally) handles. But if that's too much they definitely CAN be painted as is. We did that several times over the years not because they didn't hold up but we just got sick of the color. Oh and you attach the molding and beadboard with both glue and pin nails.

  • Deb K Deb K on Feb 06, 2023

    Hi Sharon, yes you can paint them, I love chalk paint for this! You can go with a clean and new look or a distressed look on them, hope these help you out.

  • Mogie Mogie on Feb 11, 2023

    New cabinet faces would solve the problem assuming this is feasible with the cabinets you already have.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jan 23, 2024

    To paint this type of cabinet you will need to use a special primer, or you could use contact or other sticky backed plastic, or maybe Vinyl wallpaper, but it might be better if you use a trim around them to stop lifting on the edges.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Jan 23, 2024

    You could just cover the doors for a fraction of time and money. it would take a lot of commitment if you went to refinish. There are attractive things like easy peel wallpaper, look at Iron Orchid designs for transfers,