Refinish Laminate Kitchen Cabinets

Lead Image
  • 4-8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 80-140
What You'll Need
• Mask• Safety glasses• Face mask• Clean tack cloth• Drop cloth• Blue painter tape• Primer (high gloss if you are painting laminate cabinets)• Paint• Paintbrush• Paint roller• 60 grit sandpaper• Door magnets• Screwdriver (Philips head or flat head depending on the screws in your hardware)• Marking pen

You've lived in your home for a while now, would like a new kitchen decor, and are considering painting or refinishing your laminate kitchen cabinets. Here are step-by-step instructions to install them in your home:

Step 1 - Prepare the Cabinets

Take all of the doors off the cabinets. You need to expose the entire surface of the cabinet that you are refinishing. This is a fairly simple process — just unscrew the doors and remove them from the cabinets. Make sure you keep all of the screws together and use the marker to number the doors with their corresponding cabinets or draw a simple diagram of the cabinets and doors to make it easier to reinstall the doors when you are ready for the final steps.

Step 2 - Hardware Removal

Remove all of the other hardware (hinges, handles, etc.) from the cabinets and doors.

Step 3 - Sand the Surfaces

Put on your safety glasses and face mask and start sanding the doors with the 60 grit sandpaper. If you have access to an electric sander, use this to speed up the process considerably.

Step 4 - Remove Sanding Dust

Once finished sanding, wipe the surface of the cabinets with a clean tack cloth, making sure that all sanding residue, lint, or other surface contaminants have been removed.

Prepare to Paint

Tape off any areas you do not intend to paint with the blue painter's tape (do not use regular masking tape as this can actually remove the finish from your cabinets).

Time to Prime

Using a paint roller begin to paint the surface of your cabinets with the primer. You should only need one coat of primer and it should be even (rollers make for more even primer on flat surfaces). If you are painting laminate Formica cabinets, make sure you get a primer that is intended for high-gloss surfaces.

Let your cabinets dry for several hours, according to the directions on your primer. Areas with higher humidity will take longer to dry.

Get Painting

Now you are ready to begin painting. When choosing your paint, keep in mind that flat paints are difficult to keep clean (important in a kitchen) and high-gloss paint will show every mistake you make when painting. If you decide to apply a high-gloss finish paint, consider renting a paint sprayer and make sure you are in a well-ventilated area when you apply the paint.

You will want to apply two coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry between applications—usually a few hours. Paint both the entire outside of the cabinets and both the inside and outside of cabinet doors.

Drying Time and Reattachment

After at least 24 hours, make sure that the paint on your cabinets is entirely dry and feels hard to the touch. It should not be tacky or rubbery.

Now begin to reattach your cabinet hardware. You might consider using this opportunity to install new hardware, including drawer pulls and door handles. Also, attach small door magnets to each door to ensure that they will remain closed.

Now your cabinets are completely refinished and should look great. You haven't spent a great deal of money and have the satisfaction of completing the job on your own.