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Can You Paint Laminate Cabinets?

woman in work clothes applying coat of paint to cabinets

Even if you sand the laminate before applying the paint, the paint will peel or chip soon after it’s applied.

You can paint laminate cabinets, but it’s not a good long-term solution for updating your cabinets.

In this article, we’ll go over:

Want to update your laminate cabinets?

Contact us online below or call (480) 641-9611. One of our cabinet experts will come to your home for a same-day, no-obligation quote to refinish or reface your kitchen or bathroom cabinets.

Painting Laminate Isn’t a Good Investment

Painting laminate cabinets isn’t worth the effort in the long run because:

  • The paint doesn’t last long
  • The job is a heavy time investment
  • You’re getting a small impact by only changing the cabinet color

We’ll explain each con in more detail.

The Paint Doesn’t Last

cracked white paint on plank surface

Laminate is a plastic coating that goes over cabinets, which means it has a super smooth surface. Even if you sand the laminate before applying the paint, the paint will peel or chip soon after it’s applied—making the cost to strip and paint cabinets not worth the investment.

For a long-lasting finish, our finishing pros recommend a water-borne acrylic coating, which is much more durable than painted laminate. In fact, the coating we use at Cabinet Coatings is guaranteed to not chip, fade, or crack for at least 5 years after we apply it.

If you’re set on a DIY job, you can strip the laminate before painting your cabinets, which will help the paint stick longer—although not nearly as long as professional finishes. Plus, a DIY job will increase the amount of time you’re already spending on the project.

Heavy Time Investment

The average DIY cabinet repainting takes around 2 weeks, but can easily take longer—especially if you’re only doing the work when you have time to get around to it.

If you decide to repaint your laminate cabinets, you’ll need to:

  1. Remove cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
  2. Remove all hardware (hinges, handles, and knobs), to make sure you completely cover all of the cabinets.
  3. Sand or strip the existing laminate to help the paint adhere better.
  4. Repair any imperfections (knicks, splits, etc.) if you choose to do so.
  5. Prime and paint all cabinet boxes, doors, and drawer fronts.
  6. Apply a second coat of paint if needed.
  7. Let the paint dry, which can take 1–2 hours for acrylic paint and 6–8 hours for oil-based paint.
  8. Reinstall all cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and hardware.

If you go with a professional to update your cabinets, on the other hand, they can do the job in a few days to a week.

Plus, by going with a professional, you can make a much more significant impact on your cabinets' overall look and feel.

Small Impact

By painting the existing laminate, you’re only changing the cabinet color. You don’t have the chance to change the cabinet style, which means you’re potentially stuck with a style that’s outdated or one you don’t like.

Also, by just painting over the existing laminate, you’re masking any flaws. This can create issues down the road if your cabinets are in bad shape and should really be replaced.

Learn more about when you should replace your cabinets in our blog.

Now, we’ll go over better, more durable upgrades for your laminate cabinets.

Alternatives to Painting Laminate Cabinets

If you’re looking to change the:

  • Cabinet color, look into a cabinet refinishing. This involves removing the laminate from your kitchen or bathroom cabinets and applying a new finish that you choose. Instead of laminate, our cabinet experts will recommend going with the acrylic waterborne coating that’s much more durable than paint—and comes in just about any color you could want.
  • Cabinet style and color, consider a cabinet refacing. This involves everything in a refinishing, but you also get brand new doors and drawer fronts, which allows you to go with a different cabinet panel style if you want to.

Plus, by hiring a professional to refinish or reface your cabinets, you’ll:

  • Save money on equipment. If you’re new to DIY, you’ll likely need to go out and buy all the tools and supplies needed to repaint your laminate cabinets. Since professionals do this every day, they’ll already have the necessary tools and materials (and likely better quality ones) required for the project.
  • Avoid duplicate work. During the initial estimate, the cabinet expert will tell you whether your cabinets are in good enough shape to support a refinishing or refacing. If you paint cabinets that are in bad shape, it will be a wasted effort because the cabinets will need to be replaced soon after you paint them. A professional will save you time and money on duplicate work.
  • Get better-quality work and finishes. Professionals have access to a wider range of (and more durable) finish options than what you’d find at your local home improvement store. Plus, high-quality cabinet professionals will back their work and materials with guarantees, which you won’t get with DIY work.

Want to Update Your Laminate Cabinets? Call Cabinet Coatings Today

Schedule an appointment online or call us at (480) 641-9611. We’ll talk with you about the kind of cabinet upgrades you’re looking to make, then give you a free in-home or virtual consultation that same day. Our finishing pros will explain your options for updating your laminate cabinets to help you choose the best one for your kitchen or bathroom.

Chuck Derouen

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