Painting Laminate Cabinets Q&A

How to paint over laminate kitchen cabinets


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Q: I'm about to move into an older home, and the kitchen cabinets are covered in ugly brown laminate. Instead of trying to remove the laminate, can I paint over it? If so, what type of paint should I use, and is there a special technique?

A: Laminate is not an ideal surface to paint, but it can be done. If you consider the paint job a temporary solution, you'll probably be more satisfied with the results.

The key to getting the best paint results is preparation. Begin by choosing a high-quality brush to minimize stroke marks. Remove the cabinet doors from their frames and remove all hardware, including hinges. To help paint adhere to the surface, clean the doors and sand them lightly. Next apply an oil-base primer; check the label for drying time. The latex or oil-base finish coat will adhere best if applied shortly after the primer is dry. To help protect the paint, consider topping it with two coats of clear polyurethane.

Adding wood or composite moldings to your cabinet doors will further change their look. Moldings of many sizes and shapes are available at home centers and lumberyards. You can have moldings miter-cut to your specifications or do it yourself using a miter box and handsaw. Once they are cut to size, paint the moldings, following the instructions above. When they are dry, use wood glue to adhere them to the door fronts, and then secure them from the back of the doors with small screws.

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