We own a rental property and we ended up moving in while building our house! Before we moved in, I knew I wanted to paint the cabinets. They were an off white, with a yellow tone and felt really outdated. Right away, we saw that they had a laminate overlay and knew it may be hard to paint and get the right finish. Painting laminate cabinets is a tricky art, but I decided to go for it!
I wanted the cabinets to have a similar feel to our last kitchen, modern and white. Our rental house has a charming, older feel (which I love), but I wanted to tie in some modern elements; like painting the laminate cabinets. Painting cabinets is a cheap and effective way to modernize any kitchen. If you don't have the budget to pay for new cabinet faces, put your time and energy into painting! It it does take a lot of time, but it is 100% worth it!
I had so many questions- Would it be cost effective? Would the finish last? Is painting laminate cabinets a good idea? Would it be a total flop? Yes, I am aware that painting kitchen cabinets seems daunting- for good reasons haha.
I am here to say- THEY LOOK AMAZING! We have been using the cabinets for about 4 months now and they have held up and look great! I am so glad we decided to paint our cabinets!
If you are here, I am assuming you're looking to paint your kitchen cabinets. Here is a step by step guide to painting your laminate cabinets.
TOOLS YOU WILL NEED TO PAINT YOUR KITCHEN CABINETS
To paint laminate cabinets, you need the right tools and materials.
- TACK CLOTH- Before you start painting your cabinets, you need to give them a good cleaning! This tack cloth is golden. You will use this every time you sand.
- SANDING BLOCK- You will be sanding quite a bit. I find it easier to sand with sanding blocks over traditional sand paper.
- ORBIT SANDER- It is easiest to sand with an orbit sander, but you can use traditional sandpaper as well.
- PRIMER- When you are painting laminate, make sure you grab a strong adhesion primer- one that grabs on to glossy surfaces.
- PAINT- This is the PERFECT white paint. You will only need one gallon.
- PAINT BRUSHES- High quality paint brushes are so important. Do NOT go cheap on your brushes or you will have streaks and bumps.
- FOAM PAINT ROLLER- Foam rollers perform best on laminate cabinets.
- PAINT SPRAYER- We used this paint sprayer and it is amazing. You can find a cheaper option, but the quality may disappoint you. Cheap sprayers get clogged easily.
How Do You Update Laminate Kitchen Cabinets? - Prep work is KEY
Painting laminate cabinets is difficult because it is such a smooth surface. Get ready to start sanding your heart out. You will be sanding and priming more than once. Picking out the PERFECT primer is key for this step.
STEP ONE- Get cleaning. Clean the cabinets REALLY well before you start sanding. Use this tack cloth to get the best results. It is super important to get rid of dirt, grease, dust, etc., before you start sanding and painting.
STEP TWO- Take the cabinet faces off, along with the hardware. PRO TIP- label each cabinet face with a matching number to the cabinet it belongs with. Just take a sticky note and write a number on the back of your cabinet face and then place a sticky note inside the cabinet that matches.
STEP THREE- Start sanding! Sanding is the most important part of painting laminate cabinets. Sanding will remove imperfections in your cabinets. It also takes off the smooth glossy layer and opens up the wood grain so the paint adheres well. This process won't take as long if you use an orbit sander, but traditional sand paper works great too!
You'll want to start sanding with 120 grit sand paper to really break down the glossy top coat. It should only take a few minutes per cabinet. After you sand, CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN! Take your tack cloth and get every particle you can.
What Kind of Paint do you Use on Laminate Cabinets?
STEP FOUR- Add your first coat of primer. Primer is really important in your strategy to paint laminate cabinets. You need a primer that is created for glossy surfaces. This is the primer we used and it WORKED GREAT!
Wait until your primer dries and then sand it lightly with a fine sand paper (around 220). Don't skip this step, sanding is really important. This step will help roughen the cabinets up and help the paint continue to adhere.
You can use a paint brush or a foam roller while painting the frames of your cabinets, as well as your cabinet faces. I personally like using a brush for the frames and a paint sprayer for the faces. We did two coats of primer, but you can decide what looks best as you paint. Continue painting and sanding each step of the way.
STEP FIVE- Start painting! You are finally on the last step of painting your laminate cabinets. After you have done a coat or two of primer, clean your cabinets again and add a coat of paint. If you are doing white, we recommend this paint.
If you do two coats of paint, make sure sand with a fine sand paper in between coats for the best finish! AND YOU'RE DONE!
THE RUNDOWN ON HOW TO PAINT LAMINATE CABINETS
Here is the quick version:
- CLEAN YOUR CABINETS WITH TACK CLOTH- your laminate cabinets need to be clean before you start. It is extremely important to get the grit and grime off of your surfaces.
- TAKE YOUR CABINET FACES OFF- pro tip- label your cabinet faces with a number and match that to the frame it hangs on.
- SAND YOUR CABINETS WITH 220 GRIT SAND PAPER- sand before you add your first coat of primer and make sure you are sanding between layers of paint. Start with a rough sand paper and end with a fine sand paper.
- ADD YOUR PRIMER- make sure your cabinets are sanded and cleaned before you add your first coat of primer.
- ADD YOUR PAINT- After you have two coats of primer, add your paint! We did one coat of white paint, but you can see how you like one coat and you may need to add another.
We hope this gives you the confidence to paint your laminate kitchen cabinets. Remember, DIY is an adventure, you won't learn unless you start. You CAN do this! Your dream kitchen is within reach and we want to help you get there.
PS- here are a few other posts that will inspire you:
Mas & Liz
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