Need to paint/seal old kitchen shelves

Judy H
by Judy H
Please help me with some ideas for painting/sealing the grungy shelves inside my refaced cabinets! They are old, cheap (particle board?) and need some help. I apologize for sideways photos. I kept getting kicked out of the website when I tried to re-orient them :(
surface of shelf is shedding and contact paper won't stick
similar photo
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  14 answers
  • Tee Tee on Jul 23, 2014
    Partical board is not that expensive, just get some new. Once that starts falling apart there is no saving it. Also, you can go to lumber yard and get better wood, see if they have any end pieces
  • Judy H Judy H on Jul 23, 2014
    Thanks for the advice. It seems like it would be hard to install in an existing cabinet? Maybe if I didn't make each shelf one piece but maybe two pieces?
  • Donna Byram Donna Byram on Jul 23, 2014
    If you can't remove them to replace them, how about refacing the shelves with luan. It is thin sheets of wood that is nice enough to paint or stain. You can cut to fit and then glue on to the shelf with a good adhesive. Once you have applied it to the existing shelves, you could trim the fronts with molding. You could nail and glue the molding if necessary.
  • Donna Byram Donna Byram on Jul 23, 2014
    You could also use inexpensive self-stick floor tile. It is easy to cut and wipes clean with a damp cloth.
  • Funnygirl Funnygirl on Jul 23, 2014
    You could use wallpaper to cover the back and shelves.Simple solution. or you could you use fabric.I would suggest you purchase an electric staple gun if you have a lot of cabinets.
  • Judy H Judy H on Jul 24, 2014
    The lauan is not a bad alternative. I did some googling, and it could work. I had considered self stick floor tile, but I really want the shelves to look like wood or painted wood. I'd still really like to seal and paint the existing shelving if possible, though, since it is the quickest thing to do (which means it is a project that might actually get finished), and I don't have any woodworking tools. How about a sealing primer like KILZ® PremiumPrimer followed by paint?
  • Adrianne C Adrianne C on Jul 24, 2014
    Luan is too thin for the project, and once that particle board starts to fail, you may as well replace it. 3/4 thickness is best at least, you can use plywood, or some 1 x's to fit, depending on what tools are available. Adding trim to the fronts finish it off. Then stain and paint as desired. I like to use wallpaper for shelf liner.
    • Donna Byram Donna Byram on Jul 25, 2014
      @Adrianne C FYI, the luan was suggested as a resurfacing idea NOT as a replacement for shelving.
  • Judy H Judy H on Jul 25, 2014
    Thanks! Maybe I'm trying too hard to do less work. Replacing the shelves sounds like al lot of work, but it really would give the best result.
  • Judy H Judy H on Jul 25, 2014
    I just looked at the construction of the shelves. The bottom shelf is not removable, it is a solid part of the cabinet. The upper shelves could be replaced, but not the bottom one. It would need to be covered rather than replaced. It is still pretty solid, though, only the surface is ugly.
  • Adrianne C Adrianne C on Jul 25, 2014
    The bottom shelf supports the whole cabinet and can be replaced. It just needs to be long enough.
  • The 104 Homestead The 104 Homestead on Jul 25, 2014
    If you check out the laminate section of your local hardware store (like Home Depot or Lowes) they have heat activated laminate trim (for the edges of counter tops). You could try that on the edges and then paint everything with a semi gloss paint to hold it together a bit longer. It's worked for me and my sad cabinets.
    • See 1 previous
    • Thej Thej on Jul 27, 2014
      @Judy H I was at home depot and was directed to the same trim when I had laminated particle board cut for a shelf. It may be the answer!
  • Judy H Judy H on Jul 25, 2014
    @Adrianne C Thanks -- unfortunately it doesn't rest on a surface like the floor. It is a hanging cabinet, so the surface I'm talking about is an integral part of the structure.
    • Adrianne C Adrianne C on Jul 26, 2014
      @Judy H Doesn't need to. The shelves attach to a wood strip attached to the studs in the wall. The sides, front all tie together to hold it.
  • Judy H Judy H on Jul 26, 2014
    OK, I think I get it what you're saying, but the bottom shelf is definitely not removable (without removing the cabinets from the wall and removing the refacing.
  • Judy H Judy H on Jul 31, 2014
    I still think I am going to seal/paint the shelves and apply new edge stripping, thanks for all of the ideas!