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Old 11-23-2008, 09:19 PM   #1
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painting laminate cabinets

I have those awful laminate cabinets with the oak pulls in my kitchen and bathroom. I have explored various options for updating such as buying new doors, but being a renter, I want to keep costs down. After reading numerous suggestions about painting laminate/melamine, I am up in the air about what products work best. What do you recommend?


Last edited by jj93950; 11-23-2008 at 09:26 PM. Reason: wording
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Old 11-23-2008, 10:55 PM   #2
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Did you get approval from your landlord to paint his cabinets?

Right now the cabinet doors have very durable plastic laminate on them, and there's no paint that you can put on them that will match the durability of plastic laminate. So, if you paint those cabinet doors, and they look good initially, but lose their good looks quickly simply because the paint you put on is softer and more easily damaged than the original laminate, then I expect your landlord would consider that to be "damage" to his property. Now, he'll somehow have to remove that paint to get back to that durable surface on his cabinet doors, and he'll probably want your damage deposit to pay for the cost of removing that paint (if possible).


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Old 11-25-2008, 03:22 PM   #3
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The Ideal Cabinet Repaint:

Clean with ammonia/water solution
Let dry

Sand with 180
This is to "rough up" the surface, not sand it off
Wipe with Tack Cloth

Prime with a white-pigmented shellac based primer*
(Use a disposable brush and take precautions
Plenty of fresh air and a respirator are good ideas when working with shellac)
Let dry

Sand with 180
This is a light sanding to smooth out the shellac a bit
Wipe with tack cloth

Paint first coat, using a good quality oil-based enamel, or a quality waterborne enamel, using the a good quality proper type brush (oil/water-based prefer different kinds of brushes)
Let dry over night

Lightly sand with 220
Wipe with tack cloth

Second coat quality oil based enamel, or a quality waterborne enamel, also with a proper brush

Enjoy beautiful cabinets
…and the long-lasting durable finish you applied yourself

*If the cabinets are in good shape, and not too dark, a quality oil-based (alkyd) primer may be used for priming (and TSP for cleaning)
I suggest a shellac because it works on just about any surface, dark, light, wood, laminate, bare wood, stained wood, polyurethane-ed wood, pickled wood, previously oil-based or latex painted wood, and even the questionable surfaces like inexpensive “paper” laminates if the surface is prepped and the shellac applied carefully
It’s also your best bet for plastic or melamine type surfaces

If the cabinets are known to have a quality, properly adhering, latex or waterborne finish in good shape, the primer step could be skipped if the surface was scuff sanded well-but it would still be better to do the step and use a quality water based enamel undercoating as a primer.
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Old 12-02-2008, 11:46 AM   #4
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A word of advice: If your landlord is cool with the idea, get it in writing. We rented from a gal (whom I have a few choice words about, none of which is kosher on a family site) that said we could paint a bedroom for our forthcoming baby.

To cut a long, frustrating story short, we spent a lot of time painting it, signed the move-out inspection sheet, *didn't get a copy (mistake #2)*, and when she mailed the deposit check the sheet was completely changed around. One of the things she charged us for was repainting that room, after she told us point blank to paint it how we wanted to. I checked the rental agreement, and it said that written permission was required for painting. I didn't think we needed to get any, because we knew this gal beforehand, and sorta trusted her.

My point is, get it in writing, and don't leave them any outs if he/she wants to get you for it later. I didn't think we needed something like that, and I don't want anybody to go through what we did.

By the way, we just did this very thing in our kitchen. A thorough cleaning, sanding, two coats of primer, and two coats of paint, all water based. It hasn't been up for too long, but it looks a lot better than fake wood.

Last edited by Mort; 12-02-2008 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 12-02-2008, 11:53 AM   #5
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I paint everything that is ugly and not nailed down, nope nailed down also. Just about anything can be primed for paint. Do the cleaning, sanding and use a good "grabbing primer" it will look great! I agree with Mort too, everything in writing including not being charged when you move.
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