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How do I paint laminate kitchen cupboards?

Listed under Blog, hand-painted kitchen, Little Greene, Mythic paint, troubleshoot Posted Dec 23 2013

I received this email from a keen DIY homeowner who wants to paint laminate kitchen cupboards. It raises some issues and concerns that turn up regularly in my Inbox, so I thought the conversation would be worth posting – with the questioner’s agreement of course. (I have updated the information on Blackfriars Problem Solving Primer, as it is no longer the product it once was.)

I am about to redecorate my kitchen with a view to painting the kitchen cabinets which are laminated mdf (some with plastic frosted windows) and stumbled across your site whilst looking for advice.

I am keen to use Farrow and Ball paint but am worried that there will be problems adhering to the laminate and plastic. I have been looking at primers for this purpose such as Wicks Quick Drying Melamine & Tile Primer and wondered if this would work and/or would be necessary. I would be looking to use F&B eggshell paint.

I’m also thinking of painting the tiles which are non gloss ceramic and have similar wonderings about primers/preparation.

If you could give me any advice I would be very grateful!

Thanks in advance,


You need to definitely wet sand the melamine, and clean it with a knotty terry cloth and a tack rag before priming with a high adhesion primer. Here’s a few tips on sanding

All I know about Wickes from bitter experience is their tools are mediocre at best, their paints are made by someone else, they cannot advise you, and there are many other brilliant tried and tested trade paints and materials already out there.

I would suggest Blackfriars Problem Solving Primer Classidur Extrem as a primer followed by 3 coats of water based eggshell. Or oil based Tikkurila Otex and Feelings undercoat and Feelings Topcoat.

I am not a fan at all of F&B either, as it is retail quality unpredictable and requires an additional primer undercoat. I would ask for Little Greene acrylic eggshell and ask the store to mix and match it to an exact equivalent of a painted sample of the F&B colour you are after. That way you get a trade quality paint with the traditional look and colour you are after. LG goes on really nicely too.

Leyland can colour match too, but their finishes are modern sheenier shiny.

Try a Wooster Alpha brush or the Picasso or the new Fox (available from MyPaintBrush). Dampen it first before you dunk it in your paint. I find Little Greene acrylic eggshell is really nice to apply straight from the tin, but some painters like to add Floetrol Paint conditioner to the paint to improve its flow. Apply paint liberally, lay off a couple of times, and voila.

The Blackfriars Primer Classidur Extrem will be great for tiles too as a primer coat.

Take a look at this page where I show most of the kit I use for oil painting kitchens. The end paragraph highlights the slight differences if you use water based eggshell.

For a kitchen, you need the best kit, as the work involved is great, and the end results have to be top dollar, else premature wear and tear will wreck your work and budget.

Browse through these links for further help

hope that helps

As a thought, it would be interesting for my readers to see before and after photos of a DIY hand-painted kitchen, to show folks they can do it themselves! So if you are happy with your project, why not send in some pics.

That is brilliant, thank you so much for your help, since posting my questions I have been browsing through your site and have found and read all your guides which in fact answered quite a lot. Interesting what you say about F&B I will look at Little Greene. I have one question – on your site you mention using Dulux Trade Super Grip Primer for priming laminate, would you suggest Blackfriars Problem Solving Primer over this?

Happy to use any of this in your blog, would also be happy to provide before and after shots (if the results are good enough obviously!).

Thanks again for your help, it is refreshing to find such helpful, detailed advice and the view to transform existing things with care rather than always ripping stuff out and buying new quite unnecessarily, I am looking forward to my project!

No problem, I am a kitchen painting geek, and I like to surprise people with what is possible with a lick of paint – what can I say!

Dulux Supergrip is great, but it is a primer for oil paint finishes only. (This is a debatable point as there seems to have been a change on the spec sheet over time. I have not used it with water based paints, but others who I cannot vouch for, say they have had no problem with all water based topcoats.)

Blackfriars PSP Classidur Extrem is a universal primer for oil and water based finishes. It is actually the most advanced home decorating paint available probably in the world, (excuse that Carlsberg moment!) Classidur Extrem from Switzerland, and that product is regarded as the absolute business for any problem surface from fire damage to water stains. It was eco before this latest eco trend was even invented. Luckily, being in a Blackfriars can, you get it at half the price of the Claessens branded product.

I know Wickes have their place, but not in kitchen painting.

Look forward to the photos, and if you have any issues, take a pic and post it. My brother was devastated when he oil eggshelled his kitchen on my instructions, and the first coat had a few runs. He thought he had wasted his time, till I showed him how to remove runs. It’s the little things.

Ok thanks, I have one last question I am debating either removing my tiles or painting them the same colour as the wall. They are ceramic with a slightly rough stone look rather than gloss. Do you have any tips for painting tiles such as these – would you say it would be possible to use an emulsion and would you prime them.

The Blackfriars Primer Classidur Extrem will be great for tiles too as a primer coat.

Clean them with Krudkutter Original to remove any grease and grime then 2 coats of primer. As for a finish, I would make them stand out from the flat walls, using a shinier finish. The colour is up to you as even in the same colour as the walls, the different sheen would make it stand out somewhat. Eggshell is the minimum sheen you should go for, as the tiles will get a beating and need a durable paint.

Another option to avoid removing tile is to actually disguise the texture of tiles with a Toupret filler and skim them smooth, but that isnt really a DIY job. A local painter or plasterer could do it for you though.



A bit of food for thought. Key points are-

Prepare laminate properly and once primed correctly, it is like any other surface in terms of painting. (Please note, the only surfaces I am not happy to paint in a kitchen environment, and I came across one just the other day, are the solid acrylic doors with really dense satin or high gloss finishes. These require a more commercial / industrial process more suited to what is possible in high end spray shops. See Lee at 5Bridge for commercial sprayed kitchen doors.)

The DIY and semi trade superstores do stock plenty of pots of diddy high-performance potions in amongst their retail offerings, but they don’t have the expertise to advise homeowners on painting a kitchen in a professional and cost-effective manner.

Using professional tools and paints, DIY painting is much easier and the end results can be pretty good.

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42 comments to “How do I paint laminate kitchen cupboards?”

  1. nicola mimna

    hi ya, i have kitchen furniture i want to paint cream. it’s a laminated pine table and chairs with a matching dresser. what is the best way to paint and what is the best materials to use?

  2. Traditional Painter

    Hi Nicola, It is exactly the same principle as described above ie You need to definitely wet sand the melamine, and clean it with a wet wipe before priming with a high adhesion primer. If there is any dusty residue, a dry rough terry cloth will easily clean it off.

    Once primed, you can paint it with 2 or 3 coats of acrylic eggshell, giving a light sand between coats with 220 grit abranet or silicone carbide paper. You will probably need a 2.5″ and a 1.5″ brush to do that job. A mini foam roller would help too. A roll of lining paper is a good way to keep the floor clean and keep the dust down.

  3. Barbara

    Hi, I have already painted my melamine kitchen ronseal melamine paint, however, I would love to change the colour but any of the colours I like are not available in the melamine range and so I was wondering if it was possible to paint straight over my existing paint or reapply primer

  4. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    That’s a great question. Second generation laminate kitchen painting! I haven’t used it myself, but Ronseal Cupboard paint for Melamine or MDF is a solvent based high adhesion self priming satin finish paint.

    So as a base for further painting, if it is solid and adhering well, you would abrade with 180 or 240 grade (I recommend Abranet) clean the surface thoroughly with vacuum cleaner, tack rag. Ronseal say to give it a wipe down with White Spirit damp rag.

    Once prepared in this way, you have a couple of options.

    You can mix two or more of the Melamine paint colours together to give you an extended colour range. DO NOT add any other paint product to tint it. Obviously, mix enough for the whole job. They say one coat is sufficient for similar shades, 2 for dark to light and vice versa. Personally, I feel that one coat of a new colour may cover, but is not going to give you the maximum colour depth.

    That is the most straightforward option and you have the backing of Ronseal if there is an issue.


    I have no direct experience of this paint, and Ronseal just refer to it as a “solvent based” paint, but if the coating is solid, and I wanted to repaint in a specific eggshell finish, I would tend to err on side of caution and use a bridging primer coat, to take care of any potential compatibility issues, plus oil eggshell. So I would apply one coat of Zinsser Cover Stain oil primer/basecoat, tinted in the colour of the topcoat, followed by 2 topcoats of oil eggshell.


    Please note oil paint tends to go brittle over its life. It is too late now, but I would be happier with an acrylic latex primer direct on laminate. I have always primed laminate with Dulux Supergrip prior to an oil based finish. I don’t know if that is me blindly believing what it says on the Dulux tin! Ronseal presumably know what they are doing with an oil-based self-priming topcoat on laminate, and to be fair, oil based Coverstain is a perennial favourite on laminate. But oil primer direct on laminate or melamine isn’t a route I have gone.

  5. Carolyn Minton

    Hi there
    I am interested in painting the black laminate splashback in my kitchen. Is this possible ad if it is what product do you recommend for the job.

    Thanks in anticipation

  6. Gary Lowe

    I wish to paint Kitchen laminate doors and would like to achieve a textured finish like fine sand what would you recommend reading above the preperation would be to clean use Blackfryers primaer any ideas after this??

  7. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Can’t say I have tried this is in a kitchen scenario, so I can’t recommend based on experience, but thinking aloud, for tough and sandy texture paint, I have used deck paint with an additive This might be a prime candidate for what you have in mind, over the primer. Full instructions are in the link for international paint. You would need to decide if the sheen of the finish was to your taste. Also, have you rubbed your hand over a non slip deck, it isn’t the greatest feeling!

    Adding sand to a waterborne or oil based finish, not quite the same durability as synthetic grit.

    Sandtex is textured, but would need protecting with a lacquer for such a hands on environment, but again, not recommending this, as I haven’t ever done this spec myself.

    I would be really interested to know how you get on.

  8. Crissie

    I have read many of your reviews and those of others and I am now a little confused. I have 12 internal laminate (wood colour) doors in my house and wish to paint them white. My decorator has been recommended to use BIN but says he will have to apply 3 or 4 coats besides which I have also read it is difficult to apply. I have now read good reviews for BIN, ZIM and Blackfriars multi-surface primer all of which have been recommended for priming laminate doors. So my confusion is which one to choose?

  9. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Hi Crissie

    each of those primers you mentioned will do a good job, the selection is dependent on a couple of factors. BIN is a belt and braces option but it is harder to apply and fumey. If a client doesn’t want fumey paint in the house, then a waterborne option would be the Blackfriars PSP, which is rebranded Classidur Extrem. Another option is ESP from Owatrol which is a wipe on wipe off cleaner and etcher for laminate.

    Once primed using any of the above methods, the painting process is the same with undercoats and topcoats or whatever the specification calls for your paint of choice over a primed surface. Does that help?

  10. Crissie

    That’s great – many thanks

  11. Kevin Bragg

    Hi, been painting my kitchen cupboards as per Andy’s advice above and so far, so good BUT there are a couple of runs. I’ve used Blackfriars PSP as a primer and I’m using Little Greene intelligent eggshell as a top coat. Can you advise how to best make good the runs to ensure best finish? Thank you.
    Thank you,

  12. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Hi you could take a new Stanley blade and slice the runs off if careful it won’t go back to the bare surface. Then rub light but steady with 240 grade abrasive (this is where Wet n dry comes into its own if you have any used wet). You could always put a thin coat of primer over the repair if you aren’t happy with it and sand it all in neatly when dry. Hope that makes sense. Quicker to than explain!

  13. Kevin

    Thanks for your very qui response, I’ll give that a go.

  14. Nigel

    Advice re Mirka Ceros Kit system 1, please

    Hi I’m looking at purchasing the above and have decided on the Henry Numatic NRV200 vac rather than the rather expensive Mirka option, Mirka Ceros Kit System 1 is coming in at £360 inc VAT and vac £120 inc VAT, any advice from current owners would be more than welcome


  15. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Looking at the spec of the vacuum, it sounds a super little vac, a Henry on superdrive. For decorating, Henry is up to the job for extraction but where you have to make a decision for whether it is your best bet, is with the capacity. On woodwork, you can dustless sand for a long time, but if you are skimming and sanding walls and ceilings, the Henry’s bags fill very quickly. Not unusable, but within an hour or two you could be changing the bag out.

    This post has a full summary of vacs.

  16. Louise


    I was hoping you could help me buy the right products to repaint my laminate kitchen cupboards as your the most informative site out there!!

    I would like to get as close to a cream high gloss finish as possible but I’ve no idea where to start in regards to primer and paint to achieve this finish.

    Any advice would be most appreciated!!


    Louise 🙂

  17. runjumpclimbswim

    I am a little confused by the earlier post, do you mean to say that once you’ve primed with ’tile paint’ on bare tiles that you can use any paint on top? I would like to paint our tiles the same colour as our wall in our bathroom, but can’t find anyone to tint ’tile paint’. This could potentially solve that problem but I wasn’t sure I understood your (helpful!) posts correctly.


  18. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Hi I have just updated the Jan 2013 post to explain that Blackfriars Problem Solving Primer is no longer the primer it once was. Classidur Extrem is the updated version of what used to be in the Blackfriars tins i.e. for tile primer, search for Classidur Extrem suppliers not BPSP suppliers.

    In answer to your question: prime with the above primer and then you can paint a durable eggshell finish on top of that in any colour of your choice, overcoming the limited ranges of ready mixed tile paint from the DIY sheds, enabling you to match to your walls.

  19. runjumpclimbswim

    Dear Andy,
    Thanks for your helpful reply! That’s wonderful, I will look into the Classidur Extrem. One more question, if you’d be so kind. How would you proceed with respect to the grout:

    1 – Paint all grout and tiles one colour
    2 – Rake out grout, paint tiles, regrout
    3 – Paint tiles,rake grout, regrout
    4 – Paint tiles, paint grout white

    Or another method I’ve not thought of?

    Lastly, have you used Fired Earth paint? Is it any good?


  20. Laura Jacobs

    Dear Andy,
    Can I simply use ESP after cleaning but without sanding and then the little greene egshell paint on my B&Q classic ivory laminate cupboards. Must I sand between coats.

  21. Lois

    Hi Andy – I’m attempting to paint my kitchen cupboards which i thought were laminate. Bought some white “cupboard paint” but even as i was painting the first door, I started getting yellowy streaks in the paint. Now i think the doors must be a cheap wood veneer with a light varnish giving it a bit of a laminate look. As i’m a complete novice, could you advise on what sort of prime and paint to use? I’m tempted by a polycell aerosol primer which is supposed to block stains as in this nice weather i can do it outside and not worry about drips (my first painting attempt – even if the yellow streaks hadn’t appeared – wasn’t brilliant!) Also although i did sand down the doors, I wonder if i sanded them enough. There was a lot of dust but the doors didn’t look that different after sanding to be honest…

  22. Adriana

    I had a quick question about this post.

    Is there any need for another top coat after the eggshell?

    I was thinking of using Earthborn eggshell paint, but the girl at the shop said I might want to add a extra coat of a protective glaze.


  23. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    It is a common question, the answer is, the only advantage of a clear coat over a painted finish is if the clear coat is stronger than the painted finish. In most cases where eggshell and gloss paints are concerned, the simple answer is to apply an extra coat of paint. Using a clear sealer over paint is also another chance for incompatibility between products.

    When people wax over their eggshell or gloss painted doors or furniture as “protection”, it is misplaced and extra work. Unless doing it purely for aesthetic purposes, wax is at best a sacrificial coat, in that it will give up quicker than the paint it is protecting!

  24. Sam Price


    I messaged for advice on painting pine furniture a while back. I took your advice and after 2 coats of undercoat and 2 topcoats of LG they were completely transformed and look amazing. Now I am on to my kitchen and wanted to ask after 3 topcoats is there any sort of sealer I should use? I ask because since painting the pine furniture a small chip in the paint has appeared on one of the pieces and I don’t want this happening on my units (laminate).


  25. Lydia

    This is such a great site!

    I have a query regarding painting laminate kitchen countertops. Can you please recommend a paint for these, as will need to stand up to water (around sink etc), daily cleaning and to be food safe.

    Many thanks in advance!

  26. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Hi Lydia, I fear this answer will disappoint you. (A friend of mine once glossed the plastic seats on their car, it can be done, but it didnt last. Same here. I wouldn’t go that route. There are counter top wraps, and new countertops, but painting? I guess the water resistant side of things is covered, and adhesion of the primer is not a problem with a primer like Otex, but I don’t know what top coat of paint can resist being cut on. Once split, the coating will start to fail and you haven’t got a very hygienic worktop any more.

  27. Jane de bono

    Dear Andy,
    Can I simply use ESP after cleaning but without sanding? I have on this site about this product and you mentioned in a post about this product, but do you recommend it can achieve good results. And then paint little greene egshell paint on my wood effect laminate cupboards. Must I sand between coats?

    Should I use a top coat after?

  28. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Hi ESP is a cleaner / primer in one. To be honest, it isn’t one we use much, but ESP is definitely viewed as a reliable product in the trade for cleaning and “priming”. If using LG waterbased eggshell, use an undercoat plus 2 topcoats. If using the oil eggshell, apply 2 or 3 coats.

    Re: Sanding between coats – don’t rub the ESP down!

    With the water based system, there should be no reason to sand till prior to the last coat of waterbased eggshell, a very fine abrasive sponge to ensure a smooth finish. Vacuum clean and wipe with a tack cloth.

    With an oil based system, I would sand back the 1st eggshell to provide a solid base and de-nib lightly the 2nd coat prior to the final coat.

    ESP will take two hours to fully dry and once it has, the surface will be fully prepared for painting with any paint or varnish, excluding two-pack epoxies. It is a cleaner and primer in one so once applied, you have between two hours when it dries, to seven days to paint over the primer.

    Does that address your concerns?

  29. Jane de bono

    I hope you could understand my previous post, my apologies for the terrible grammar and bombarding questions. Many thanks, Jane.

  30. Ruth Dixon del Tufo

    Hi there,
    Thanks for this helpful blog. Having gone slightly overboard on the paint samples, I have lots of lovely emulsion paint and was wondering if I could use this and then do a varnish or similar on top? Would you recommend a particular brand of varnish? Assume primer recommendations would be the same?

    Thank you

  31. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Hi Ruth, in theory it is workable to do as you suggest, but in practice, it does not provide a particularly durable finish in a busy kitchen.

  32. Chrissie Settle

    Hi,I have repainted kitchen cabinets before with great success however, I want to do so again but the doors are high gloss and badly marked around the handles.
    Do I need any special methods or treatments/materials for high gloss. I would hate to do it as before and find the paint doesn’t adhere for long or not at all.
    Incidentally, I haven’t heard of most of the materials you suggest in the above comments. Living out in the sticks in Wales I’m sure I would have difficulty acquiring them.
    Chrissie Settle

  33. Terry

    I have a 15 x 17 kitchen with all white cabinets (top and bottom) In each cabinet is a laminate strip of blue that matches my countertop. I would like to paint the strip and purchase a new countertop. The cabinets are in great condition! Also, the cost of replacing all these cabinets would be so expensive now.

  34. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    The painting process described here will apply. Good luck.

  35. mark fletcher

    Hi,I have just painted some kitchen cupboards with ronseal cupboard paint, the first coat went on well but needed a second coat. I did ‘exactly what it said on the tin’but some of the doors turned out smeary. Put another coat on after a few days and the same thing happened. Is there something I am doing wrong? Look forward to hearing from you.

  36. Lynsey

    Hi, your guide is pretty great and has pointed me in the right direction for what I want to do. One question, and Im sure it is a stupid one… but how do you tell if your paint is water based or oil based? I thought about using cabinet paint, but can’t find it in the colour I want (Bright lime green) so thought about an eggshell emulsion? Any idea if thats water or oil? Also, so you know whether that would wihstand the usual wear and tear of a kitchen? Thanks in advance!

  37. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    It says on the tin? Clean with water or white spirit.

  38. Glen

    Hi there

    I have a high gloss black kitchen (it’s about 10 years old from MFI)

    I want to get rid of the high gloss look – plus black isn’t ideal as the kitchen is quite dark due to poor light – so wondered if there’s any way of painting over this type of material?

    To a layman I’d have thought not, but you never know!!


  39. Gill

    Hi, the information you’ve provided is fab. Like many on here I am a novice so need as much help as I can get please. I am going to attempt to paint our laminate cupboards in the kitchen. Sorry to sound dense but what is “wet sand the melamine, and clean it with a knotty terry cloth and a tack rag”? Also, you recommend Little Green acrylic eggshell paint – is this the same as Little Green traditional oil eggshell? Thanks in advance for your help.

  40. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Wet sand – get some Mirka Mirlon, wipe the surface with water, scuff it with the Mirlon, wipe carefully with a microfibre cloth.

    If you let it dry, there could be a thin layer of dust. In cracks and crevices there may be a build up of scuzz. A terry cloth (nappy material) is slightly abrasive and seems a quick way to remove dust.

    Tack rags are open weave cloths soaked in slow drying oil. Prior to painting, lightly wipe the rag over the surface for a final clean.

    Tack rags were invented in the days of oil based paint. They since have been developed for waterbased paints for the automotive industry. They are less oily. Some decorators might say, less effective, but there aren’t many decorators producing work better or faster than custom car painters! Check out your local auto factor store. They tend to come in blue and are called Aqua or similar.

    Little Greene oil eggshell is oil based. Intelligent eggshell is their acrylic (waterbased) eggshell.

  41. Elaine Corley

    Hi, I am looking to repaint high gloss kitchen doors and wondered what are the best products to use, I would like to have them finished in the same high gloss if possible.

  42. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Laminate can be prepared and successfully primed with Tikkurila Otex high adhesion primer, finished with Tikkurila oil based Miranol gloss.

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