A Guide to Painting Laminate Surfaces: Tips and Techniques

calander Apr 13 , 2023 user-icon Nash Painting

Painting laminate surfaces can be a cost-effective and visually appealing solution for homeowners looking to update their kitchen cabinets or other laminated furniture. With the right preparation and technique, you can achieve professional-looking results that will breathe new life into your space. In this blog post, we'll explore various aspects of painting laminate cabinets and surfaces.

We'll start by assessing whether painting laminate is the appropriate choice for your project, looking at its advantages and potential drawbacks. After considering the potential benefits and drawbacks of painting laminate, we'll move on to prepping it for a fresh coat by cleaning, sanding, and priming.

Finally, we will delve into choosing the ideal paint type and color for your laminate surface before offering tips on applying even coats of paint and finishing touches to ensure a long-lasting result. By following these steps carefully, you can successfully transform your outdated laminate surfaces with ease.

Table of Contents:

painting laminate surfaces

1. Should You Paint Laminate Surfaces?

You might love the idea, but is it a good idea? In this part, we'll explore the pros and cons of painting laminate surfaces as well as the ideal paint to use for the task.

a. Benefits of Painting Laminate Surfaces

  • Cost-effective: Painting over laminate can save money compared to replacing entire cabinets or countertops.
  • Aesthetic appeal: A fresh coat of paint can transform outdated or worn-out laminate surfaces into something modern and stylish.
  • Eco-friendly option: By repurposing existing materials instead of buying new ones, you're reducing waste and contributing to a more sustainable environment.

b. Considerations Before You Begin Painting Laminate Surfaces

Before you begin painting laminate cabinets or any other surface, there are a couple factors that need consideration:

  1. Laminate surface quality: If your current laminate surface is heavily damaged or peeling away from its base material, it may not hold up well under a new layer of paint.
  2. The longevity factor: although painted laminate looks great initially, it might not last as long as other finishes like wood veneer or solid wood due to their less durable nature.

c. Types of Paint to Use on Laminate Surfaces

To ensure a long-lasting and professional-looking result, you'll want to use the following types of paint:

  • Acrylic-latex paint: This water-based paint is easy to clean up and dries quickly. It's also highly durable and resistant to chipping.
  • Semi-gloss or satin finish: These finishes provide an attractive sheen while still being easy to clean. Avoid high-gloss finishes as they can highlight imperfections in the laminate surface.

In addition, always choose a reputable brand like Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams for your painting project - this ensures that you're getting a high-quality product that will stand the test of time.

Key Takeaway:

Thinking of painting your laminate surfaces? It's a cost-effective and eco-friendly option that can transform outdated or worn-out surfaces into something modern and stylish. Prior to painting, it is essential to assess the surface quality and use top-notch acrylic-latex paint with semi-gloss or satin finish for the best outcome.

2. Preparing the Surface for Painting

Before starting to paint, it's essential to adequately prepare the laminate surface by cleaning, sanding, and priming.

a. Cleaning the Surface

Use a moderate cleaning agent blended with tepid water and a gentle fabric or scouring pad to take out any soil, oil, or filth that may be on the surface. Be sure not to use any abrasive cleaners or scouring pads as they can damage the laminate. Once cleaned, dry the surface thoroughly before you start sanding.

b. Sanding the Surface

Sanding is an essential step since it helps create better adhesion between the paint and substrate by roughening up the texture just slightly. To do this effectively:

  • Use fine-grit sandpaper (around 220 grit) attached either manually or using an orbital sander.
  • Gently scuff up entire area needing coverage while being careful not overdo pressure application so as prevent unnecessary damage.
  • Clean away dust created during process using damp cloth then let everything air-dry thoroughly afterward.

c. Applying Primer to the Surface

Next up, apply a high-quality primer. This creates a solid base for the paint to adhere to and helps prevent peeling or chipping later on.

When selecting a primer, look for one specifically designed for use on laminate surfaces, such as Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Based Primer. Apply the primer using a brush or roller, following the manufacturer's instructions regarding coverage and drying times. It's important to allow the primer to dry completely before moving on to painting your laminate surface.

For optimal results, it is essential to ready the surface by cleaning, abrading and priming. With a clean and prepped surface ready for paint, now we can move on to selecting the right type of paint and color for your project.

Key Takeaway:

Before painting laminate surfaces, it's crucial to clean them with a mild detergent and sand them using fine-grit sandpaper. Applying a high-quality primer like Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Based Primer is also essential for optimal adhesion of paint onto the prepared surface.

3. Applying Paint to Laminate Surfaces

In this part, we'll look at the selection of paint type and color, how to put on even layers of paint, and wrap it up with an appropriate curing period.

a. Choosing the Right Paint Type and Color

Selecting an appropriate paint for laminate surfaces is crucial in achieving a long-lasting result. Acrylic latex paints are highly recommended due to their durability and adhesion properties on laminate surfaces. These paints also provide excellent coverage and resist peeling and chipping.

In addition to choosing the right type of paint, selecting a suitable color is equally important. Consider your room's overall design theme when picking a color that complements existing elements such as furniture or wall colors.

b. Applying Even Coats of Paint

  1. Use quality brushes or rollers: Invest in high-quality brushes or foam rollers designed specifically for smooth finishes on laminates.
  2. Mix your paint well: Stir your chosen acrylic latex paint thoroughly before application to ensure consistent pigment distribution throughout each coat.
  3. Apply thin coats: Avoid applying thick layers of paint at once; instead, opt for multiple thin coats allowing each layer ample drying time between applications (usually around four hours).
  4. Sand between coats:To achieve an ultra-smooth finish without brush marks or roller lines lightly sand using fine-grit sandpaper after every two layers applied.
  5. Clean up drips immediately: Wipe away any drips or excess paint with a damp cloth before it dries to prevent uneven surfaces.

c. Finishing Touches and Curing Time

Once you have applied the final coat of paint, allow ample time for the surface to dry completely. The drying period could range from a few hours to 24 hours, depending on the humidity levels. After drying, consider applying a clear protective topcoat such as polyurethane or polycrylic for added durability and protection against wear and tear.

Bear in mind that curing time is different from drying time; while the painted surface might feel dry within hours, it can take up to three weeks for acrylic latex paints to fully cure on laminate surfaces. During this period, avoid placing heavy objects or using abrasive cleaning products on the freshly painted surface.

Key Takeaway:

To paint laminate surfaces, choose an acrylic latex paint for durability and adhesion. Apply thin coats of paint with quality brushes or rollers, sanding between each layer for a smooth finish. Allow ample drying and curing time before using the surface to avoid damage.

Frequently Asked Questions Painting Laminate Surfaces

Can you paint laminate surfaces?

Yes, you can paint laminate surfaces with proper preparation and the right type of paint. It is essential to clean, sand, and prime the surface before applying a suitable paint for a long-lasting finish.

What kind of paint will stick to laminate?

Acrylic latex paints or oil-based paints are recommended for painting laminate surfaces. These types of paints adhere well to smooth surfaces like laminate when combined with an appropriate primer.

Does painting laminate cabinets look good?

Painting laminate cabinets can look good if done correctly. Proper surface preparation, using high-quality primer and paint, as well as careful application techniques will result in a professional-looking finish that transforms your cabinets.

What happens if you paint laminate without proper preparation?

If you attempt to paint over unprepared laminates, the results may be unsatisfactory due to poor adhesion between the surface and the new layer of color. This could lead to peeling or chipping shortly after completion.


For a lasting finish, use top-notch paints specifically designed for this purpose and take care in each step of the process. Remember, when painting laminate surfaces, use high-quality paints specifically designed for this purpose and take care with each step of the process in order to ensure success.