How do you refinish/restore melamine cupboards?

Deborah Evelyn
by Deborah Evelyn
I have kitchen cupboards that need to be refurbished. I like the white cabinets, but there is some discolouring, some marks, wear and tear. I am not sure how to start? How to attack this project? Looking for suggestions, ideas, techniques, advice.
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  12 answers
  • Pamela Rascoe Brown Pamela Rascoe Brown on Jun 15, 2017

    Are you sure they are not Formica?

    • Deborah Evelyn Deborah Evelyn on Jun 16, 2017

      Reply to Pamela Rascoe Brown...Hi Pamela, no I am not sure. How can I tell? Or figure it out? They were here when I bought the place.

  • Judy Kruse Judy Kruse on Jun 16, 2017

    I have white Formica on my kitchen cabinets installed in 1973. I am thinking about bead board wallpaper and painting. Then outlining door with a thin board. Has anyone done such a thing?

    • Helen Bressler Helen Bressler on Jun 16, 2017

      I have wallpapered cabinets without problems. You just have to reglue them every once in awhile. I have also covered cabinets in fabric and then put clear vinyl plastic over it for protection. I glued and stapled that and it lasted for years.

  • Barb Barb on Jun 16, 2017

    I have painted my Formica cabinets. Lightly sand surface, prime with Bin (or the like) then use an oil base paint of whatever color you want. Didn't chip and they washed easily. That was 25 yrs ago. Wow...guess it's time for a change again!!

  • Eloise Eloise on Jun 16, 2017

    Research Rustoleum's Cabinet Transformations. The kits come in both light and dark finishes, includes everything you need, and can be used on any type surface. There is little prep required, no sanding (unless you want to), and no warning about using in a well ventilated area. I had great success with my laminate bathroom vanity with this product.

  • A A on Jun 16, 2017

    It is important to know if the type of laminate is formica or melamine. Formica is a better product and you have a better chance of getting a good durable finish. In addition to the rustoleum site mentioned by Eloise, there are other sites that can help you through the process. Here's another:

  • Lottie Crafts Lottie Crafts on Jun 16, 2017

    I would suggest a good sanding and use boat paint with a water resident clear coat. Several layers of paint sanding between and same w the clear coat.

  • Judywoodruff Judywoodruff on Jun 17, 2017

    I have used bead board wall paper and used lattice boards to frame them. They look nice but the wallpaper is sort of spongy and nics easily. This is not a great pic but you get the idea

  • Florent Florent on Jun 18, 2017

    How to recognize melamine or stratified/laminate (formica is a trade mark) ? Melamine is dirctly coated on the compressed aglomerated wood panel. You can see it viewing the nude width of the panel : if you can't see any other material coating the wood panel, then it's mlamine. If you can see about 1 mm coating on the panel, or if it's a decorated surface, it's stratified/laminated. On doors, it's the same, except if you have moulding on them. Int his case it's a hot laquering (made of a powder passed in a hoven) looking like malamine.

    In all these cases, if you want to cover it up, you'll have several options : paint with a special primary coating or a single resine paint, self ashésive covering paper (avoid it in kitchen or bathroom and other "very used furniture because it always finish by peeling off in a way or an other...), or an other stratified/laminate covering, but only if the primary stratified/laminate in in perfect state (but this can only be made by a qualified specialst; It csot a lot, and generally, it's better to change furnitures...). for doors, if you want to keep mouldings, you can only use one of the two paint method. Otherwise, you can fix a thin pannel on it using contact glue, and then paint it. You can also change the doors (it's generally standard dimensions...) and leave the bodies of the furniture in sate, covering view sides with an materials of your choise. For a perfect job I would recomand to replace doors, and cover viewed side with other materials. If your "on a budget", paint your doors with one of the two method, resine paint beeing the best choice.

    I hope this wil help you...

  • Deborah Evelyn Deborah Evelyn on Jun 18, 2017

    Ok thanks! Wow, that's a lot of information. I will look into it more to determine what type of cabinets I have.

  • Deborah Evelyn Deborah Evelyn on Jun 18, 2017

    My next question is what product can I use to fill in the little nicks on the edges of the mouldings or on the surfaces of the cabinets?

  • Chorr4475 Chorr4475 on Jun 19, 2017

    If painting, there's paintable wood putty, but may make rough, "flat" spots under paint. Small enough to be sanded? Make sure what you're sanding is wood. If particle board, will chip/flake paint off. I like Zinnzer primer underneath paint on fake wood. Get on labeled for over shellac/varnish.

  • Deborah Evelyn Deborah Evelyn on Jun 19, 2017

    Good to know. Thank you!