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How to Paint Laminate Cabinets without Sanding

In this post we’ll go over how to paint laminate cabinets without sanding. We did this project in one of our vacation rentals, the kitchen cabinets were builder grade and had the laminate peeling for a while now.

I tried using different glues to get the laminate to stick to the MDF again but none of the glues were able to do the trick.

The laminate was peeling, but other than that the kitchen cabinets were in fantastic shape.

I really didn’t want to replace the cabinets since that is a pretty penny, and the only thing wrong with the cabinets was the peeling laminate.

A question then popped into my head…. can you paint laminate cabinets? Off to Pinterest and google we went! It turns out the answer to, can you peel laminate off cabinets and paint? Is YES!!

Thank God we found this solution to paint the laminate cabinet doors! This was the perfect way to extend the life of my kitchen cabinets.

The alternative would have been to replace all the kitchen cabinets, and that was an expensive project that I was really trying to avoid. 😉

Painting the laminate cabinets was a fantastic way to keep the kitchen cabinets. You can’t even tell that they are painted!

If you have peeling laminate cabinets in your kitchen, know that you can paint laminate cabinets for a super-tiny fraction of the replacement cost… and they’ll look perfect for years!

Note: You can click on any of the pictures below to enlarge the pic to get a better look at it.

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The Shopping List

Tools List

Here’s a list of the tools we used on this project.

Affiliate links below may be to similar items when exact items couldn’t be found online.

A cordless drill

a couple high quality synthetic brushes (primer and paint)

a furniture roller with at least two rolls (primer and paint)

little stands to place the doors on while painting

Supplies List

These are the supplies used on this project.

Affiliate links below may be to similar items when exact items couldn’t be found online.

A gallon of Valspar Stainblocking Bonding Primer/Sealer

A gallon of Valspar Cabinet & Furniture Oil-Enriched Enamel in Satin

How hard is it to paint laminate cabinet doors?

Painting laminated kitchen cabinet doors was A LOT easier than I thought it was going to be. The unknown for me was whether or not the MDF doors were going to swell up when the were painted. Another unknown was how smooth the MDF under the laminate was.

Those were huge unknowns in my head, I was very nervous about starting this project, since the MDF swelling up would mean I’d have to replace the doors!

Step 1 – Remove the laminate on each door

I was very nervous at this step. I knew once I removed the laminate there was no going back! Please don’t be me, there is no need to be nervous. The painted kitchen cabinet doors will look fantastic when you’re done and they will last for years.

I thought I’d need a heat gun and special tools to remove the laminate that covers the cabinet doors, but luckily I thought wrong. 🙂

This part of the project was very easy, no real hiccups at all.

On my doors the laminate on the back of all my cabinet doors was still holding on tight, so I left the laminate on the backs alone. That reduced the time to complete the project quite a bit. Painting the backs would have doubled the amount of time it took to paint.

If The Laminate Is Already Coming Loose

If the laminate is already coming loose, then it’s just a matter of pulling on the loose piece and the rest of the laminate comes with it.

If The Laminate Isn’t Already Loose

If there isn’t an area on the door where the laminate has already loosened from the MDF then you can use a utility knife to loosen it from the door fairly easily.

Just shimmy the blade between the laminate and the MDF. The easiest place to do that is in the corner of the door.

Step 2 – Sand The Doors Where Needed

Once all the laminate is removed, inspect the doors and make sure there are no dents, glue, etc that needs to be removed.

My doors were in great shape. The only part I needed to sand was where I had previously attempted to glue the plastic back to the door…. needless to say the glue didn’t do the trick but I did need to sand down the glue on the door so there wouldn’t be a bump there.

If you do need to do some sanding, stick to a fine sand paper, like 400 grit.

Step 3 – Prime The Kitchen Cabinet Doors

To paint laminate cabinets you need to first apply a primer. That will seal the MDF, preventing the cabinet paint from soaking too much into doors.

That was another thing that I was a little conserned with. Would the MDF suck up all the paint and start bloating. I’ve seen how MDF deals with moisture and it ain’t pretty. lol

I’m not sure if it’s because I did the primer first, or the MDF for the cabinets is more resistant to moisture, but either way the cabinet doors were perfectly fine with the paint.

The primer I used was Valspar Stainblocking Bonding Primer/Sealer which I bought at Lowes.

I used a furniture roller and a quality synthetic brush to apply the primer to the kitchen cabinet doors.

First I used the brush to get the paint into the nooks, then I used the furniture roller to paint the flat surfaces.

Step 4 – Painting laminate cabinets doors using a special paint

Matching The Paint Color

Matching the paint color to the cabinets turned out to be a pretty tricky task. I first tried to color match the cabinets at Home Depot, but they couldn’t match the color… I mean not even close.

Not sure if it was the paint, the color matching equipment or just operator error but Home Depot was not getting the color to match.

I then tried Lowes and the color matched with them on the first try.

I don’t mean to rip on Home Depot, but if I had to get the cabinet color matched again… I’d just go to Lowes.

Here’s a picture of the paint I used along with a picture of the color matched code.

If you have the same cabinets, give that barcode at the Lowes paint counter and it will match the color perfectly!

Personally, I think this is the best paint for kitchen cabinets without sanding.

 

This part takes a while, but keep in mind most of the time is spent waiting for the coat of paint to dry.

You’ll have to apply at least a couple of coats of paint to the cabinet doors, preferably 3 coats, and of course you also need to give the paint time to dry between the coats.

First, I used the synthetic brush to paint all the nooks and crannies, then I went over the flat surfaces with the roller.

I used a small furniture roller to apply the paint on the flat surfaces and a quality synthetic brush to apply the paint in the nooks and crannies of the door.

Doing that left a beautiful smooth finish.

Tip: Take your time on this part and use a good brush and roller to apply the kitchen cabinet paint

How Long Will Painted Laminate Cabinets Last?

I think it will last for years. I did these cabinets back in 2022, so it’s been a couple of years now and they look the same as the day I finished them.

Keep in mind that these laminated kitchen cabinets are in a vacation rental. If they can last that long in a vacation rental then you know they’ll last A LOT longer in your kitchen.

The Kitchen Cabinet Doors Are Done!!

The cabinet doors are all finished! It took about a day and a half from start to finish to complete, and a lot of that is simply drying time.

I couldn’t be happier with the results!

I was really worried that I was going to mess up the doors by painting them, but they came out SOOOOOO nice!

If you want to paint laminate cabinets, follow these steps and you will not regret it. 🙂

You can paint laminate cabinets in the Bathroom too!

They looked so nice, I decided to give it a try on the bathroom cabinet doors. They also came out fantastic!

Painting laminate bathroom cabinets works just as sell as the kitchen cabinets.

I also did the bathroom cabinets a couple of years ago, at the same time I did the kitchen cabinets. They have held up just as well as the kitchen cabinets.

I wasn’t sure how they would have held up with the doors being MDF particle board and the high moisture in the bathroom, thankfully, just like the kitchen cabinets,  they are just as beautiful as the day they were finished!

 

Did you like the post? Was it useful? What would you do different?

Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks!

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About Steve

Hi, I'm Steve. My wife Sandy and I have been doing DIY projects for years now and we finally created a blog to help share our projects and ideas.

We hope you find these posts useful. 🙂

Steve

Hi, I'm Steve. My wife Sandy and I have been doing DIY projects for years now and we finally created a blog to help share our projects and ideas. We hope you find these posts useful. :)

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