Drewb at Home

How to Paint a Laminate Cabinet

I recently moved into an apartment that needed a lot of tender loving care to make it feel like a home. I had often said, “If you have to move, move into the worst apartment in the best neighborhood.” I’m still thinking about this one. I decided my first project would start with the bathroom, which was pretty bad. I did get the owner to install a new vanity, but for this post, I’m going to paint the large laminate storage cabinet. I’ll get to more on the rest of the bathroom projects in a later post.

I have a passion for painting, especially furniture, but painting laminate is a totally different story. So, before starting the process of painting this laminate cabinet, I decided to do a little research. I found a book in my library by “Stephanie Jones, Upstyle your Furniture. It covered some of the points that I needed to complete the project.

Bathroom Cabinet Before
Bathroom Cabinet Before

First thing is to remove all hardware and place in plastic bag so they do not get lost. To begin, I gave the cabinet a scuff-sanding with 120 grit – and then 220 grit sandpaper (you can also use an Orbit Sander) is a must. Laminates are made to resist dirt and stains, and will also resist being painted.


Remove hardware before sanding
Remove hardware before sanding

I also, made any necessary repairs, like filling in holes with a wood filler.  Let dry and sand with 220 grit sandpaper until smooth. It’s so important not to sand too much because the surface can be ruined. Laminate is a thin material bonded, pressed, or glued into a base of wood or a manufactured relation, such as particle board.

Fill holes, let dry and sand.
Fill holes, let dry and sand.

I then washed down thoroughly with a cleaner, rinsed completely and removed all sanding dust before priming.  Remove doors and hinges. I placed the hinges in a plastic bag so that when it was time to replace them, they would be easy to find. Cover all areas with painter tape that was not be painted.


Remove doors and hinges
Remove doors and hinges


Remove sanding dust and wash down cabinets.
Remove sanding dust and wash down cabinets.


Added painter tape to all area that you do not want to paint.
Added painter tape to all area that you do not want to paint.

Then, the next key step was to prime all surfaces. Like usual, I used Kilz Primer which blocks, seals, and preps for the paint to adhere to the surface. Primer is important, but especially when painting over laminate (as I mentioned above). Unlike wood, laminate is a smooth, non-porous material, so it need something to “grab” on to–primer will take care of this! I applied two coats of primer with a roller and waiting 1 hour before coats. I also, sanded between each coat of primer.

First coat of primer.
First coat of primer.
Cabinet after second coat of primer.
Cabinet after second coat of primer.

This next step is very important. It is suggested that the primer takes 7 days to completely dry. You will get a stock if you don’t allow the primer to completely dry.

After sanding and priming, it is time to paint!

I use a good quality brush for the edges and a quality roller for the flat surfaces. By using a roller, it will achieve a smooth stroke less surface.

Here is the cabinet with the first coat of paint….

Painted cabinet.
Painted cabinet.

Although I used a paint with primer, this cabinet took three coats of paint, sanding between each coat. I wanted to make should it was fully covered.

Carefully remove painter’s tape. Do not want to pull off paint. Put the doors back on. Finally, it was time to apply to last step! The protective finish.

I applied a thin coat of Minwax Polycrylic Protective finish with a high quality synthetic bristle brush. Do not over-brush. I let dry for at least two hours then sand with very fine sanding paper (220 grit) to ensure an even finish and proper adhesion of additional coats.

Three coats are recommended. After the final coats allow three (3) hours before light handling and twenty four (24) hours before normal use. You can now add hardware.

Allow the painted layers to cure completely (at least 30 days) before any vigorous cleaning. Gentle wiping with a damp microfiber cloth or dusting with a rag is best.

Replace doors and hardware.
Replace doors and hardware.


Finish cabinet.
Finish cabinet.
Finish cabinet
Finish cabinet.

Materials used

Most of my materials were purchased from Home Depot.

Materials used.


1 Material 1


  • Stanley Deluxe Miter Box and Saw 20-600D
  • Sanding paper -120 and 220 grit
  • A degreasing cleaner ( I use Arm and Hammer cleaner)
  • Blue Printer Tape
  • High quality foam roller
  • Paint
  • Tray for paint
  • Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish
  • High quality synthetic bristle brush
  • Kilz Primer
  • Tool Kit for removing hardware
  • Plastic to cover sink
  • Canvas drop cloth
  • Tack cloth
  • Zip-close plastic bag
  • A hammer and nails
  • Wood filler and a small putty knife
  • Super-bonding wood glue







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