Homeowners choose melamine kitchen cabinets and furniture because it comes in a variety of styles and colors and typically, at a lower price point than hardwood. Melamine is a thin, plastic like covering that gives cabinets and furniture a shiny and smooth finish. Melamine is prone to chipping especially along edges and at corners. Due to cleaning methods, use, age and normal wear melamine loses its shiny surface and begins to look dull and worn. Furniture or kitchen cabinets with a dull, worn appearance ruin the look and décor of the entire room. Some homeowners choose to replace the melamine furniture or cabinets, but replacement can be costly, especially if you plan to replace kitchen cabinets. Furniture may be less expensive to replace, but oftentimes there is nothing wrong with the furniture except for the finish. Some pieces of melamine furniture have beautiful style and lines that fit into your current decorating them perfectly making replacement a difficult choice.
Painting melamine cabinets and furniture is another option. Paint allows you to choose from a wide variety of colors. Painting creates less of a mess than a complete kitchen tear out. Paint is much less expensive than replacement. Painting does not require you to hire a professional in order to get good results. Painting allows you to show off your artistic flair or your do it yourselfer side.
Things You'll Need
Grease fighting dish washing soap
Nylon scrubbing sponge
Extra fine sanding cloth
Flexible plastic putty knife
Proprietary surface preparation solution
Epoxy based primer
Epoxy based paint
Prepare Melamine Surfaces for Paint
Remove drawer pulls, knobs and door hinges from the cabinets or furniture.
Set doors on a flat and level, protected work surface.
Fill a bucket with warm water and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of grease fight dish washing soap.
Stir the ingredients to blend well.
Dip a nylon scrubbing sponge into the soapy solution.
Scrub the melamine surfaces to remove excess grease, oils and dirt.
Wipe the melamine with a rag dampened with plain water to remove the soapy residue.
Let the furniture or cabinets to dry thoroughly.
Put on your safety goggles and dust mask – do not inhale the dust generated by sanding melamine as it is highly irritating to the lungs and throat.
Equip an orbital palm sander with 320 grit sandpaper or wrap a piece of 320 grit sandpaper around a sanding block.
Sand the melamine until you remove the shiny appearance from a very light layer from the surface.
Wipe the furniture or cabinets with a tack rag to remove excess sanding dust.
Rub an extra fine sanding cloth over the surface of the furniture or cabinets to make the finish smooth.
Wipe the surface a second time with a tag rag.
Repair Melamine Chips and Damage to the Edges
Scoop out equal amounts of two part epoxy resin and mix it thoroughly on a disposable plastic plate or in a small plastic cup.
Pick up the epoxy with a flexible putty knife and press the repair material into chips and jagged edges. Build up the epoxy until it sits slightly higher than the melamine surface. Smooth the resin out with the putty knife.
Let the epoxy resin to dry thoroughly and harden fully.
Lightly sand the epoxy repairs with an extra fine-grit sanding cloth to even it out and blend with the existing finish.
Preparing Melamine for Paint and Primer
Dip a rag into a proprietary surface preparation solution that is made especially for plastic surfaces. Or use a plastic fusion primer and paint. If you are using a fusion paint and primer skip this step.
Wipe the solution over the entire surface of the cabinets or furniture.
Let the solution sit on the melamine surface for the amount of time specified by the manufacturer's instructions.
Wipe of the excess preparation solution with a dry chamois cloth or microfiber rag.
Priming and Painting Melamine
Lay strips of low tack blue painter’s masking tape over abutting surfaces to protect them from the primer and paint.
Open the epoxy based primer and stir it well with a wood stir stick.
Pour an epoxy based primer into a painter’s tray.
Dip a sponge brush into the primer and apply a 2 to 3 inch wide stripe on the edges that abut to walls, ceilings, countertops or backsplashes.
Roll a ¼ inch paint roller through the primer.
Roll the primer over all melamine surfaces to cover them.
Let the primer dry for four to six hours.
If the primer looks streaky or if coverage seems uneven, add a second coat of primer.
Wash brushes, paint rollers and painter’s trays in between coats of primer with soapy water.
Open the epoxy based paint can and stir the contents with a wood stir stick to thoroughly blend the paint.
Pour the epoxy paint into a painter’s tray.
Dip a foam paintbrush into the paint. Knock off excess paint on the edge of the painter’s tray.
Paint a 2 to 3 inch wide stripe on the edges that abut to walls, ceilings, countertops or backsplashes.
Roll a ¼ inch paint roller through the epoxy paint and roll off excess paint on the lip of the painter’s tray.
Roll the paint onto the cabinets or furniture in overlapping V shapes.
Let the paint dry fully which can take anywhere between three and six hours.
Wash the paintbrush, roller and painter’s tray. Or wrap the brushes and rollers tightly in a plastic bag and place the bag in the refrigerator to prevent the paint from drying on the roller, brush or tray.
Apply a second coat of epoxy paint using the same technique as with the first coat of paint.
Melamine Cabinets and Furniture Decorating Options
Stencil a design onto the cabinets with epoxy based paint after the second coat of paint is fully dry.
Don’t be afraid of using color. Play with the colors and create new designs such as splattering, stippling or combing.
Paint base cabinets in one color and top cabinets in another. Paint furniture legs one color and tops a contrasting color.
Use either high gloss paint or a matte finish or even a combination of both to create a design.
Lighter, brighter colors are best for rooms that lack natural lighting.