Asked on Jul 12, 2012

Can I successfully paint cabinets made from pressed "wood" and covered in a contact paper like stuff?

Toni E
by Toni E

I have no idea what one would call what these cabinets are made from! I only know they are ugly and I want to paint them! Does anyone have tips on how to paint kitchen cabinets?

  16 answers
  • Carroll A Carroll A on Jul 12, 2012
    I painted 2 press board night stands. Lightly sand don't go too deep, primer then 2 coats of paint. It has been about 3 years now and it is just starting to chip and look bad. Not sure about contact paper though.
    • MommaBritt MommaBritt on Jun 18, 2018

      I also have 2 pressboard nightstand. They are not damaged, just ugly. I'm thinking of using a contact paper, at least on the top (maybe on drawer fronts also). I'm hoping to find creative contact paper suggestions on this sight...

  • Gail--My Repurposed Life Gail--My Repurposed Life on Jul 12, 2012
    pressed wood AND covered in contact paper? What's the worst that could happen? If they are smooth, I say primer, and paint. If they are not smooth (wrinkles, etc) Paint will NOT cover that up! sad, but true. Perhaps a faux finish of some sort if that's the case. good luck, sounds like you've got nothin' to lose.
  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on Jul 12, 2012
    if you are talking about kitchen cabinets, it is likely they are thermofoil. can you share a photo? age of cabinets? cannot say that Ive ever seen kitchen cabinets with a contact grade kind of covering - by comparison its easy to find with furniture. can you paint? yes.. its all about the primer. depending on the grade/texture of the covering is key.. need to see a close photo of a door to further help you
  • Daniela N Daniela N on Jul 12, 2012
    if the surface is slick make sure you use a oil base primer (it sticks like glue!) it smells and all, but it will last longer. you can use regular latex paint over oil base primer. there is such paint as cabinets' paint, I would suggest you go with that...a little more expensive, but then again, you want it to last
  • Bernice H Bernice H on Jul 12, 2012
    I think with a good primer like Kilz, the contact paper would be ok. We primed over that vinyl wall paper in our MH kitchen, and 16 years later, it is still ok! I have also primed and painted over wall paper, so go for it!
  • The type of cabinet Toni is speaking about is a particle board with a wood grain imprint on a paper laminate that is often heat applied to the surface. Over time this paper begins to peel which exposes the particle board underneath. This can be refinished, but with care. You need to carefully sand the edges of the damaged area, then fill using a auto body type filler to bring the surfaces level again. Once that has been done a very good cleaning but no sanding should be done. Using a deglossing chemical such as TSP should do the trick. Once clean and dry, prime using a oil based primer. Not water based. The water based primer will cause the paper covering to possibly swell and cause issues. Once dry again using a oil based paint put your final finish coat on.
    • See 1 previous
    • Cindy Walker Cindy Walker on Dec 12, 2018

      thanks my son really wants his desk to not look like wood mom we are going to do this

  • Toni E Toni E on Jul 14, 2012
    Thanks Woodbridge! Spot on! I'm headin' to Lowe's!
  • Kirsten Landt Rodriguez Kirsten Landt Rodriguez on Jan 03, 2015
    I have the same cabinets Woodbridge described - my question is do you peel off what you can and then fill or just cut off the loose paper laminate and then fill to be even?
  • Char Char on Feb 15, 2015
    I too have the same cabinets Woodbridge described, mine however may have gotten wet at some point because the pressed wood is kind of swollen in places. Mostly on the bottoms. Can anything be done to fix that before prime/sand/paint? Or are there some clever camouflage ideas for them?
    • Deanie Winter Deanie Winter on Jul 19, 2015
      @Char I would try a product used by painters called Gesso. It is used to seal painters canvis. Once the swelling happens you probably should clamp it after you apply the Gesso. Let it dry and sand if needed and then add another coat of the Gesso. You can find it at most craft stores.
  • Sandra Lila Lomeli Sandra Lila Lomeli on Feb 25, 2015
    hi everyone. I am new here. I have white kitchen cabinets that have a plastic coating that is peeling off, what is underneath looks like pressed there anyway to create a distressed wood look on this?
  • Michelle Michelle on Jul 04, 2015
    Can I paint over msg cabinets?
  • Heather Heather on Mar 02, 2016
    Gesso would work great. Also, Chalk paint would be a great option. You dont have to prime before. I have an entire blog post on using chalk paint and milk paint that might be helpful for you. Hope that helps!
  • Melody October May Melody October May on Mar 18, 2018

    I bought a new mobile home a couple of years ago for my country land, and I have the same cabinets. I figured it out when the bottoms began to swell and peel because of mopping.

    Thanks for the painting ideas - I will definitely do an oil based to redo the paint (going panted country kitchen to disguise the cheap cabinetry).

    At the bottom, I'm going to cut off the cabinet "wood" and replace that with about 4" of tile edging (to compliment my floor tile). Hoping that will stop any future wet swelling.

    • MommaBritt MommaBritt on Mar 18, 2018

      I have same issue where moisture made the bottom peel, etc. Im going to try continuing the baseboard to hide it and hopeful keep out moisture. My cabinet happens to start at same height as my baseboards. I don't think i can attach with nails, pressboard is too weak. Some type of glue or caulk... not sure yet. Wish me luck

  • Lisa Addessi Lisa Addessi on May 24, 2018

    It's a vinyl coating from the 70's over particle board

  • Tracey Buchner Tracey Buchner on Jun 26, 2019

    I have the same problem. Before realizing it was probably Thermofoik, my husband pulled the "laminate" off thinking we could just buy new covers. So, instead I have removed all doors and drawer covers. I am priming with an Oil based primer because it should help the pressed wood stay intact. Then, I will lightly sand and paint my desired color using an Oil based paint. Wish me luck!

    • Bernice H Bernice H on Jul 02, 2019

      Wishing you luck! Let us know how it goes! There are still a lot of those cabinets etc around,so this is an ongoing issue. 👏

  • LaDawn LaDawn on Oct 17, 2019

    Tracy... I’m about to do this same project. Any helpful advice?? If you had it to do over again... would you? Would also love to know what you did to the cabinet portion as well.