Many homeowners choose to install laminate cabinets in their homes because they are durable and require less maintenance compared to natural wood. They can withstand high amounts of moisture and heat, thus protecting the inner wooden core from damage as long as the film stays in good condition. Even though their design allows them to last for long, laminate cabinets are a little lacking in their decorative properties which is why you may ask, can I spray paint laminate cabinets?
Laminate is not an ideal material to paint. But, the task is manageable if you scuff the surface lightly to reduce its gloss, then apply a laminate-friendly primer before spraying on the paint. However, even with proper surface prep, the color on laminate cabinets will only remain intact if the laminate film stays intact. The paint may change the appearance of the cabinets, but it will not keep the laminate from further damage.
The laminate films may still lift or crack after a while and damage the paint. So I suggest painting your laminate cabinets as a temporary solution until you can afford to reface or replace them.
How Do You Spray Paint Laminate Kitchen Cabinets?
Here are some of the steps involved in the spray painting of laminate kitchen cabinets.
Step 1: Clean the Cabinets
Kitchen cabinets are the greasiest installs around the home. You may not be able to see the grease, but it is there, and it will affect the outcome of your paint job if you don’t remove it. Dirt interferes with the grip of paint on laminate, so if you color a dirty cabinet, the paint coat will form bubbles when it’s wet or peel away soon after it dries.
- Mix one tablespoon of clear unscented dish soap, a cup of white vinegar, and some water in a bucket.
- Dip a soft cloth in the vinegar solution, wring out the excess, then wipe the cabinets. As you clean, rub on the surface lightly to ensure that all the grease comes off.
You can also purchase a commercial cleaner if you prefer the surety of cleaning a surface with a chemical. However, you will have to use cleaning solutions made explicitly for laminates to prevent damage to the surface.
Step 2: Remove Drawers and Hardware
You have to remove the doors and drawers of the cabinets to color all parts efficiently. If you leave the removable pieces on, you risk covering latches and hinges with paint, leaving your paint job wanting.
Label all the bits after removing them and put all the hardware in marked plastic bags so that you can know where each piece goes at the end of the project.
Step 3: Sand the Cabinets.
Thoroughly sand every piece of the cabinet that you want to paint to ensure that primer grips it properly. If you skip sanding, neither the primer nor the paint will adhere; instead, they may bubble, peel or fail to stick completely.
Use a flexible fine-grit sanding block to sand your cabinet pieces because it can conform to the shape of the corners and other details of your cabinet, making your work more efficient.
Also, use minimum pressure as you sand to avoid sanding away so much of the laminate that it exposes the wooden core beneath it. Once you finish, vacuum out all dust, then wipe the surface with a tack cloth to remove any remaining particles.
Step 4: Apply Primer.
You may be tempted to bypass the primer and head straight for painting, but doing that will fail your paint job. Furthermore, using the wrong primer will not work either because the coating on laminates repels many coating products.
When painting laminates, always look for primer manufacturers designed explicitly for laminate furniture. In many cases, these products are brushed on or rolled on, but you can use spray paint on them regardless.
Use a roller or a foam brush to apply one or two coats of the primer, sanding lightly between each layer to level bumps in the coat. Also, allow each coat to dry well before applying the next one using the recommended times on your product’s container to guide you.
Step 5: Spray Paint the Cabinets
Spray painting is a fast and effective way of coloring any surface. However, you need to apply some exceptional painting skills to achieve a paint finish with a high-end appeal.
- Start by choosing a quality brand of paint designed for use on furniture because most of them work wonderfully on laminates.
- Prepare the paint as instructed on the label, then load it into your spray gun.
- Hold the spray gun at about 12 inches from the surface, then press the sprayer’s trigger while your arm is still moving just before reaching your cabinet piece. Spraying into the air first will ensure complete and smooth coverage for your cabinet pieces without blotchy patches on the areas the paint touches first.
- Spray the color parallel to the surface, slightly overlapping each line to promote full coverage and prevent streaks on the surface. Apply several coats of the spray paint until you achieve the desired coverage for your cabinet pieces, then let it sit to cure as the label suggests. It is vital to allow the paint to cure fully before moving the parts to avoid messing up the paint job. Sometimes the coat may feel dry to the touch, but the product beneath is still malleable and will form dents when you apply pressure to them.
When spray painting, always work outdoors and ideally on a non-windy day to prevent spray mists from landing everywhere. Ensure that your space has good air circulation to keep paint fumes from accumulating if you work inside.
Furthermore, ensure that you tape away all surfaces you don’t want to paint to avoid staining them with overspray.
Watch the Video Below On Spray Painting Laminate Kitchen Cabinets:
What Kind of Paint Do You Use On Laminate Cabinets?
You cannot solely rely on good prep to ensure that paint grips and stays on a surface for a long time. The type of paint you choose also impacts the longevity of your paint job in a significant way.
Laminate cabinets need a good sand down to provide a rough surface for coating products to adhere to, but you still need a good quality paint to ensure the success of your job.
I recommend choosing paints made explicitly for laminate surfaces to color your cabinets because they are products designed to withstand the harsh demands of the kitchen environment.
Manufacturers formulate them to dry harder than other types of paint so that they can hold up to the repeated touching when opening and closing doors, food and liquid spills, and continuous encounters with steam and heat from your oven or stove.
Apart from their durability, these products do not need a primer applied before them to make them stick – a feature that most painters love because it reduces the amount of work and time required to complete the task.
If you cannot acquire the cabinet paints, you can use latex or solvent-based paints, provided you use a quality primer to help the paint bond with the laminate surface. Solvent-based primers work well on most surfaces, but I suggest using a product specially formulated for laminates.
Although you can use both solvent and latex paint, I recommend using the former to yield better results. Solvent/alkyd paints create a more rigid and durable finish on laminates than their counterparts.
They dry more evenly, leaving no streaks on the surface, and they are easier to clean than latex paints. I suggest that you use epoxy-modified alkyd colors on your laminate cabinets because they come in spray form, making them fast and easy to put on, provided you possess the proper painting skills to apply it correctly.
Is It Better to Spray Paint Or Brush Paint Kitchen Cabinets?
The painting methods and practices you employ to color kitchen cabinets will also define the paint job results. There are two main methods for painting kitchen cabinets – brush painting and spray painting.
As the name suggests, Brush painting involves using a paintbrush or roller to spread paint on a surface. On the other hand, spraying involves using a spray gun or spray cans to spread fine paint mists evenly onto surfaces.
Both methods can provide fantastic results provided you employ the proper application skills specific to each method; however, like with any method for performing any task, brushing and spraying paint onto a surface have benefits and drawbacks.
You, as a painter, will have to analyze the pros and cons of each to make an informed decision on which method suits your project better.
Benefits of Brush Painting
Some of the pros of painting using a paintbrush are:
- Faster Surface Preparation
When painting cabinets, you have to prepare the kitchen in several ways. You require a clean surface for paint application and masking to define the edges of your cabinets and protect countertops, walls, and other surrounding surfaces from accidental staining with paint.
When brushing paint onto a surface, the masking task takes much less time and tape, as you can create straight lines by hand without the risk of overspray.
- Fewer Layers, More Coverage
When painting with a brush, the coating product goes onto the surface thickly compared to spraying. Because of this, you can obtain the maximum coverage for your kitchen cabinets with as little as two layers of paint.
- Less Paint Wastage
Brush painting allows you to apply the color directly to the cabinet’s surface, meaning the only product you’ll waste is the small amount stuck to the brush at the end of the project.
Brushing is unlike spraying, where most of the product ends up in the air as you cannot direct the whole paint mist to the surface without causing paint blotches.
Drawbacks of Brush Painting
Although brush painting is the most traditional painting method, there are some downsides to it, including:
- The Task Takes Longer to Finish.
Painting kitchen cabinets with a brush takes a lot of time, especially if your kitchen has several drawers and doors to color. Each paintable piece will require at least two coats of paint, and each layer needs
to dry before you can apply the subsequent one properly. Since the brushing layers are naturally thicker, they will take longer to dry between coats and after the project ends. And considering your kitchen will be out of use during the process, you will be eating out or microwaving food until the job’s done.
Moreover, it would be best to be attentive to detail when brush painting to ensure all layers are even and avoid missing any spots. And since you have to do all that by hand, the project will draw out for extended periods.
- Brush Marks
Even though brush painting offers sufficient coverage, achieving even coats is challenging. Even the most experienced painters have to work extra carefully to achieve a smooth finish, but sometimes they end up with brush marks and paint drips all over the cabinet surface.
Once brush marks form on the surface, you will have to take some prompt measures to remove them, which will prolong your project even further. Additionally, if you don’t know how to remove the brush marks properly, you may ruin all your hard work, and then you’ll have to start all over.
Benefits of Spray Painting
The benefits include:
- Faster Application
Once you get past the surface preparation stage, spraying paint onto the surface is faster than brushing. You can cover a broader area in less time and, since spray paints produce thinner layers, the drying time between each coat becomes less.
- Smoother Coats
When using a paint sprayer to color kitchen cabinets, you won’t have to worry about leaving unsightly brush strokes on the surface. Additionally, paint sprayers can color every nook, cranny, and even behind objects.
Drawbacks of Spray Painting
Among the shortcomings of this approach are:
- Overspray Problem
Paint guns have a broad reach, which is good because they quickly cover a large surface. However, stray paint mists tend to leave stains on objects near the surface you’re painting. You can prevent the staining by covering areas you don’t intend to paint, but you cannot stop the overspray completely.
- Longer Surface Preparation
While you can prevent the risk of overspray, the preparation it requires will take much longer and more covering material. Instead of just taping off the edges of your kitchen cabinets and laying down drip sheets, you will have to cover everything within a few feet of your cabinets to ensure that the spray mist only hits the cabinet pieces.
How Can I Paint Laminate Cabinets Without Sanding?
I do not recommend painting laminate cabinets without sanding because it will be the beginning of your paint job’s failure. Laminate is a non-porous and slick surface. It lacks enough “teeth” to allow the paint to grip it properly, so it is essential to roughen it up a little before coating it.
Sanding is a process that requires patience and effort to execute correctly. It may be a tiresome task, but the results you’ll achieve on your paint job will make it worth the effort.
However, you can use one of the two methods below to achieve decent colorwork if you want to skip the sanding process altogether.
Laminate primers and paints are the only products that are sure to provide you best results when you want to skip sanding your cabinets.
Manufacturers made the primers more adhesive than regular primers allowing a long-lasting bond between them and the laminate even without etching the surface.
You can apply laminate primers to the surface then color the cabinets with any paint you like. If you have the laminate paint, you won’t need to sand or apply primer to get it to stick – clean the laminate cabinets, then go straight to painting.
Chalk paint is also an excellent product to use on unsanded laminate cabinets. It can stick well to almost any surface, including glossy ones like laminate. Even though the chalk paint will stick, it will not last long on laminate. In a few months, the paint will start to peel off the surface, and you will be stuck doing retouches for a long time.
So, I suggest using chalk paint for temporary coloring as you figure out a more permanent solution.
How Can I Tell If My Furniture Is Laminate or Veneer?
Laminate is a manufactured layer of plastic with a wood grain pattern printed on it. It is like a ‘picture’ of wood bonded onto less expensive wood composites such as MDF, plywood, or particleboard.
On the other hand, a veneer is a thin sheet of natural wood, usually hardwood, adhered to lesser quality wooden surfaces like MDF and particleboard. Veneer gives the furniture an impression of the desired natural wood without being as costly.
They also make it possible to create designs and match grain patterns on the substrate, and since it is practically natural wood, you can stain or paint them with proper preparation.
These two materials are very different, but they can be challenging to tell apart since they look alike.
The best way to tell laminate and veneer furniture apart is by looking at their wood grain patterns. Natural wood grain patterns are like human fingerprints – each finger has its pattern, so you can never find the same print on two people.
In the same way, every tree has a unique pattern, so if you put several planks of wood together, it’s hard to find the grain patterns repeating.
Veneer furniture has a sheet of natural wood glued to a substrate, so if you examine the grain patterns on it, you will notice that they randomly change.
However, with laminate, the printed wood patterns have a limit, so upon examination, you will find the grain pattern repeating after every few boards.
You can also tell veneer and laminate apart by wood knots present on the surface. Knots are round imperfections left behind when dead branches fall off living trees.
Since veneer is natural wood, there are high chances it has a knot or two, but you won’t find the same on laminates.
Is It Cheaper to Paint Cabinets or Replace them?
It is always cheaper to paint your existing cabinets than remove and replace them altogether. Cabinets constitute at least ¾ of the cost of a new kitchen or bathroom. So pulling them down for new ones will leave you paying bills that are close to rebuilding a whole space.
You can color cabinets yourself, making painting a popular option among DIY fanatics. Not only will you reduce the cost of labor this way, but purchasing a few cans of paint and some paintbrushes is way cheaper than buying new cabinets.
Even if you settle on hiring a professional painter for the project, the labor cost will still be less expensive than paying a professional to replace them.
Moreover, if you happen to paint your cabinets on a whim, and the finish results do not please you, you can put a different color on them or strip the paint to return the cabinets to their previous state effortlessly. However, if you replace the cabinets and the results don’t please you, you will incur even more charges to make changes.
What Color Cabinets Never Go Out of Style?
Neutral colors on kitchen cabinets will never go out of style. When you select neutral colors, your kitchen can act as a blank slate, and you can decorate it with the style and liking of your choice without risking color clashes.
When you install neutral materials or use neutral paint colors on your kitchen cabinets, you won’t have to fret about the resale worth of your house. Potential future buyers will see the colors as an opportunity to blend in with their style without worrying about a remodel first.
Likewise, you won’t have to worry about remodeling your space a few years down the line to match changing trends. With neutral-colored cabinets as your backdrop, you can switch accessories and decorations as you please without thinking of changing the colors of the cabinets or replacing them to match.
Can You Paint Kitchen Cabinets Without Removing Them?
Removing cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware is crucial in the cabinet painting process. It is an easy but time-consuming task, so it’s not unusual to find people trying to save time by painting the cabinets with everything in place – hinges and all.
You may manage to cut down the time it will take to color the cabinets, but I do not advocate doing so because it will affect your work and the durability of the paint after it cures.
When you paint kitchen cabinets with everything in place, you risk getting paint on the metal hardware like hinges and knobs. These metal pieces do not respond well to regular wood paints, so the coat will start to show signs of wear and chipping within a month or sometimes immediately.
Once the paint on the hinges starts cracking, all you can do is remove the hardware and soak it in a paint remover to get rid of the color, then sand everything else down and repaint. So save yourself the hassle by doing the task correctly.
Moreover, when you paint cabinet doors without removing them, the surface will be vertical, encouraging paint drips to form and fall on other surfaces below – a problem you can avoid by removing the doors and painting them horizontally.
If you must color your kitchen cabinets with everything in place, make sure that you tape away all hardware to prevent their contact with the paint. But, this process will take even more time, so save yourself the trouble and remove the doors and drawers beforehand.
Laminate cabinets are a popular choice for homeowners because they are affordable and can withstand the kitchen environment better than natural wood. However, despite their durability, laminates can look quite dull after some time prompting a desire to change their look.
You can either reface or paint over kitchen cabinets to change the looks, and more people lean towards painting. But the burning question remains…
Can I Spray Paint Laminate Cabinets
You can get spray paint to stick on slick laminate surfaces by scuffing them with sandpaper to help the paint stick. Sanding aside, you also have to use a special laminate primer to promote a strong bond between the laminate cabinets and the paint of your choice.
You can also use laminate-specific paints to color your laminate cabinets if you want to skip the sanding and priming steps altogether. However, it is best to remember that painting your laminate cabinet is better as a temporary solution as you try to afford a reface or a replacement for your kitchen cabinets.