Painting Laminate Cabinets

A blessed Easter it was, we spent some time with my family, ate too much, and came home happy and content. I trust you had some good times with your family too this weekend.

painting laminate cabinets

Several of you asked me about painting these white laminate cabinets, so I thought I’d do a little post on that. These are indeed white laminate cabinets, as are my kitchen cabinets. I think the bases are probably wood, but the doors are definitely laminate (that plasticy material). And the good news is, you can paint it! I painted this 3 years ago and it still looks great.

I found this bit of information by Googling Laminate primers:

The Zinsser company makes two primers that it recommends for use over laminate: Bulls Eye 1-2-3, an acrylic formula in a water base, and B-I-N, a pigmented shellac formula with an alcohol base. Tim O’Reilly, manager for primers and sealers at Zinsser, recommends the shellac formula even though it will leave your kitchen smelling like alcohol for an hour or so and even though it’s more of a hassle to remove from your tools. (You’ll need to use ammonia or denatured alcohol.) The reason for his recommendation: Once the alcohol evaporates from the primer, typically in 45 minutes, the shellac finish is fully cured. Not only can you can proceed immediately to put on the finish paint, but you greatly speed up the time when your kitchen can return to being fully functional.

painted laminate cabinets

I did not use a laminate primer on my cabinets, but I did prime them with water-based Kilz, so if you want the extra protection OR you are going to paint your laminate kitchen cabinets, I would definitely recommend you get a primer made specifically for slick surfaces like laminate. This will save you a lot of headaches. Mine have held up well, since this bathroom is not used all the time, it’s a guest bath. I primed first, then did 2 coats of Satin Ralph Lauren paint called Turret Stair (you can get Ralph Lauren paints at Home Depot). It’s a deep rich, chocolately brown. I used a small foam roller and a 1 or 2” brush to get into the crevices. It goes on pretty smoothly with the roller. You can see I only painted to the edge of the lip inside the cabinets and the same with the drawers and kept the insides white. Save yourself the headache of painting the insides of your cabinets!

Painted laminate drawer



I did take my doors off to paint them, but next time I would just leave them in place. I had a little bit of a hard time getting the doors back on properly, so I think you could just as easily leave them on. You’ll just need to stand on your head to get underneath the bottom of the door. 🙂 Let every coat dry one day in between and you should have a great looking coat of paint on your laminate cabinets.

I’ve painted several cabinets, but this was the first time I’ve had laminate, so be sure to prime them well first and it should work out great. Proper prep is the key! I do have laminate doors in my kitchen too and may end up painting them one day if they end up getting beat up. Laminate is bad about getting nicks around the edges of the doors, so I think painting them would seal them up and make them last longer. I know in our bathrooms, we had some water damage on the edges of some of them, so laminate doesn’t even last forever.

I’ve also heard about a product called Cabinet Coat, but have never used it. It’s supposed to be a tough as nails finish that leaves a very hard and protective surface for cabinets. I think you can get it at Ace Hardware and other places. So, this would be a very good option for painting cabinets too. One thing I read online was that this gives a really smooth surface over a sanded primer, and to lightly sand between coats for the best results. That’s how you get a really professional looking painted surface, not that any of my cabinets I’ve ever painted are professional looking, but they were good enough for me.

Cabinet coat

I’ve had to touch these cabinets up just a couple of times in the last 3 years. Sometimes the pressure points of the doors will leave a little spot and I just take a paint brush and touch it up. Not a problem! I know there are also tougher paints especially for cabinets that you can get, so that is another option when you are buying your paint.

If you want to paint your laminate cabinets, go for it! I’m joining Susan over at Between Naps on the Porch for her Met Monday party. I think this makeover fits the bill.

If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t miss the giveaway on my Review Blog that is currently happening! it will be going on until early a.m. Wednesday and you don’t want to miss it.

- Rhoda


  1. I love the deep color you chose on the cabinets, Rhoda. This project is on my list for the summer.

  2. Thanks for the info! No laminate cabinets in my house, but plenty of other decor and finish dilemmas…
    Glad to hear you had a happy Easter. Friends at church told me they linked to your blog through mine and had a blast reading through post after post…..
    Hope that brightens your post-holiday Monday!

  3. Amanda @ Serenity Now says:

    Beautiful! We have white laminate cabinets in our (1970s-ick!) Colonial. I actually like the white, but hate the knobs. I had no idea you could paint laminate. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

  4. Leigh of Bloggeritaville says:

    good tips

  5. Thanks so much for this post! I have a guest bath down stairs that makes me crazy. The cabinet in there is fine but the color of the wood(if that is what you want to call it) does not match well to some of my paint choices. I am going this week to get these products and paint it. Thank you so much for the info and I LOVE your blog!

  6. I can’t wait to give this a try! Thank you for the great tips.

  7. Great project! I thought about doing this last year, but was not sure how the paint would stand up to wear. Thanks for the tips.


  8. Great post…always so much to learn from you dear Rhoda!
    By the way I mentioned you in my post this morning because I had to confess that your office space was my inspiration for my new office I’m putting together (so very slowly, I might add). I hope you don’t mind.

  9. Living with Lindsay says:

    How funny that just last night I was looking at your site and searching all the things you’ve painted black (as I’m painting my own piece black right now). So very timely and helpful! LOL Thanks, Rhoda!

  10. I had these in my bathroom before the renovation – and painting them would have been a great option, had I not ripped them out. Great work Rhoda, beautiful finish. Isn’t it funny how they look builder grade in white, but custom in black? Oh to our love of paint! 🙂

  11. Susie from Bienvenue says:

    Just wanted to drop in and say Hi!

  12. Such great information about how to do this and what products to use. Very helpful. I love the look of your cabinets. Very pretty in the chocolate brown. Hugs, Marty

  13. Deputy's Wife says:

    I had to comment on the cabinet paint. At our old house I used paint specifically for cabinets in my kitchen. It held up very well. And that was with three toddlers banging into the cabinets all the time!

    Two years ago, I painted the kitchen cabinets in our current home. This time I used primer, two coats of black paint, and a water based poly for a top coat. It has not held up as well. Every few months I need to touch up.

    I am gearing up to paint our cabinets in the bathroom. (There is a lot of cabinets for a bathroom and none of the wood matches!!!) This time I will be using paint specifically for cabinets again. I think if you have young children and the area will be used a lot, that is the way to go.

    Also, I was thinking of painting them black, but now after seeing your chocolate brown, I might head in that direction!!!

  14. blondiensc says:

    Your cabinets looks gorgeous, I love the color..and I can’t believe they look that great after a few years of wear and tear so to speak!! Great job!! Thanks for visiting me, your blog is adorable and there is so much fun stuff going on here! 🙂

  15. Thoughtfully blended hearts says:

    I often read your blog and enjoy it very much…I have a tip for you to try…I was taught a very good antiquing technique years ago and it gives a “hard as nails” finish…just use Johnson’s Paste wax as your medium and add color with oil paints (the artist kind)…my favorite is to add burnt umber to my paste wax (this gives a lovely reddish antique wash)…allow this mixture to dry and just shine with a soft cloth…I used this on a bathroom vanity and it held up perfectly…

  16. Rhoda – you are an inspirer to live
    a best life in the home you are planted in! your blog is the best – & i have a suspicion you are a SLaH consultant as I am.
    blessing to you for your generosity of ideas – patti g

  17. Julia @ Hooked on Houses says:

    I always wondered if it was possible to paint those. Love what you did with yours. Thanks for explaining it!

  18. Mrs. Petrie says:

    I’ve been thinking about painting my cabinets. Thanks for all the inspirations and information! Your cabinets look fab!

  19. That is a beautiful color!

  20. Runner Mom says:

    Thanks for the prepping tips!! I have lots of cabinets wating to be painted!


  21. Thanks so much for the timely post. I have a laminate desk that I have been wondering if I could paint. I’m going to give it a try.

  22. Thoughtfully blended hearts says:

    Rhoda, the wax/antique technique can be used with any color of paint (for example you could use a white or light grey if you wanted to antique your black painted cabinets) the addition of oil color gives you limitless possibilities (even mixing colors just like you would in painting a picture) Try this technique on something small…just use common sense with your antiquing techniques i.e. light colors highlight and dark colors cause things to recede)I know you have the expertise by seeing your posts… I hope this makes sense…if not I’ll try to do a post explaining it…

  23. Looks great! I painted our bathroom cabinets years ago, but decided to have the kitchen cabinets done professionally. I figured since they were at eye level, I would drive myself crazy seeing my work.

    It only cost about $1500 and that included new hardware and inside mount hinges. It was totally worth it!

  24. I am SOOOOO glad to read this!! The lovely plasticy laminate is slowly but surely peeling off our kitchen cabinets and I so desperately want to paint them but have been scared to. I cannot WAIT to tackle our kitchen and bathrooms!!!!!

  25. I am so thrilled to read your advice. I can save so much money by painting my bathroom cabinets by myself but I had no idea how to paint laminate. Thank you.

  26. Kelee Katillac says:

    Great tutorial Rhoda! Very helpful. I have done this laminate painting myself before as well….good point about the inside. Thanks for your teaching!

  27. I'm so glad you posted in this!! I didn't know it was an option & am happy to know there are options with laminate!! 🙂 thanks!!

  28. Thanks for the How-To Rhoda, this is awesome information. Hope you had a wonderful Easter. ♥

  29. Laura @ the shorehouse. says:

    Happy belated Easter!

    I have some nasty laminate in my rental apartment that I’m itching to paint. Our landlord does not share my enthusiasm. 😉

  30. I have laminate too and I’m so sick of it! I LOVE the way yours looks. I don’t know if I’ve brave enough to try the kitchen (yet) because several of the cabinets are starting to peel {I’m sure having 3 kids that like to pick at things doesn’t help either} but I think I might give hubby a honey-do for one of the guest baths.

    Love all your creative ideas.


    P.S. I once had the same animal print rug. My lovely dog thought it was pretty nice too and chewed up the edges. It matches your cabinets nicely!

  31. Southern Charm says:

    I am so loving your black cabinet. My hubby has a white fettish and I let him have his way in the master bath. White everywhere!! Floors, cabinets, white marble tops… we have these huge windows in there too so all white & mirrored glass mixed with so much natural light. Well, lets just say it shows every single little imperfection on the body. Not my favorite place to be, ha ha. Your bath looks great.

  32. Barb @ GritsandGlamour says:

    Rhoda – love the black. I am thinking of painting my guest bath cabs a rich, chocolate brown. They are currently painted white. I want a drastic change. I love the drama of your black ones. I agree, I never paint the insides. Call me lazy! 😀 Thanks for sharing – I’m glad you had a nice Easter. Warmly, Barb

  33. Rhoda

    I never knew you could do this! WOW!

  34. Jeanneoli says:

    Amazing…I would never have guessed that laminate could be painted and STILL look that good. Thanks.

  35. Wow, that is amazing looking!
    Thank God for paints of all kinds huh. Always say it is the cheapest way to redecorate!
    Linda Q

  36. Cottage Rose says:

    Hey Rhoda; I love those cabinets, at first I thought they were black, instead of a deep brown.. Love the rug.. Thanks for all the tips on painting them…


  37. You have inspired and informed me once again. I can’t wait to try this. I will be adding it to my list of things to do around here. Thanks!

  38. Thank you for sharing this information. I have been thinking about painting my kitchen cabinets, but I have not yet took the plunge. After reading this I think I will go for it.


  39. Thanks so very much for this. I want to do the cabinets in our master bathroom…not sure if I’ll go with black or white…and I have to figure out what to do with the floor, etc….sigh…you are a terrible influence, you wicked, lovely woman ;D

  40. Rhoda – these look incredible! I think they look like really expensive cabinets! Check out what I did to my bathroom cabinets.

  41. LOL @ Susie Q.
    Oh we had a great relaxing Easter here at home. I don’t really have any family up this way but my sister and she was out of town.
    You cabinets look just awesome and so expensive looking to me to. You remind me SO MUCH of myself when I want something different I FIND a way to make it different. I made some finials for my curtain rods. You got to check them out. lol

  42. Pretty Organizer says:

    hey lady! These are great. I need to refinish all of the laminate furniture that I bought 11 years ago… when i was poor… I mean poorer. Now the kiddos are using it and well, you get tired of laminate pine from K-mart after 11 years. I’m waiting for my furniture to grow up… it only grows old. You did a great job! How well has it held up?

  43. Cote de Texas says:

    you make it all look so easy – and they look so great in the dark brown – at first i thought it was a black. 3 years later – wow! i hate to tell you what our cabinets are made out of = a faux wood, pressed wood or something like that. we did it to save money when we were too broke to build our house. they havent held up well at all either. I really need new cabinets everywhere! oy.

  44. abeachcottage says:

    hi rhoda

    nice post and yep you do make it seem so easy

    I enjoy reading about how you go about it, now all I need is some laminate, haha! I just thought, oh errr actually I don’t have any, quite unusual really I suppose


  45. Thanks for sharing the color you used on those cabinets. That would be the perfect paint for my hall bath.

  46. Doris the Great says:

    Great job on the cabinets! I just moved into a duplex 1.5 yr ago and the kitchen & bath have varathaned oak cabinets that are so dated. I want to strip them and paint them (probably) a cream color. Any recommendations on how to do this the right way?

  47. Well aren’t you just a wealth of information! I love your cabinets and the leopard trimmed hand towels. We have very similar taste.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Hi Rhonda! I am a newbie to blogland and I just LUV your blog! I have been studying this post on painting laminate cabinets. I have a piece of furniture that I purchased a few years back from Target. I think it is the Sauder/Saunder/??? brand. Of course it is not real wood, I guess it is that fake wood lookin laminate stuff. Do you think I can paint it? If so, please point me in a direction as to what type of primer and paint I should use. I live in North Alabama, and shop often in Bham. So, I love seeing your “outs and abouts” in the area! 🙂
    Thanks! Andi

  49. Love the post. We don’t have laminate BUT a 70’s ranch. I let my teenage son do his bathroom in the colors he wanted 4 yrs. ago. So, the dark wook cabinets became a dark blue with dark tanny walls. Inspired with this, I had him take a screwdriver to remove the doors and bring them and the drawers to my shop. I’m sanding them down a little and they’re now going to be black…along with the cabinet. Now to choose a wall color….
    That’s what I love about blogspot, I get so many ideas…then I’m irresistably motivated.

  50. I just finished and I used your blog as a direction guide! Thanks so much! Great blog.


  51. Oh My Goodness, this is exactly how we are doing our guest bathroom that I wrote to you about in an earlier post. and my husband is having a tough time with the laminate cabinets. Thank you for this tip!

  52. This is awesome info! Thanks for sharing. I’ve been looking for info on how to do it and what to do. This was very helpful. Thank you. I hope to get my kitchen a face lift soon! I think I may try this on my laminate counter tops as well.

    Preemie Mami

  53. Janet McReynolds says:

    This is beautiful : ) I love that you can paint anything!

  54. Just found this post and I’m thrilled!~ I have 4 daughters sharing 1 bathroom and you can only imagine what my laminate cabinets look like. (as a matter of fact I think they are they same ones you have)
    I’m going to try your advice and paint them either black or a dark, dark brown… Thanks for the tips, it will be my Spring Break project this year! I’m following!

  55. Oh my gosh, my blogging/home partner Cane just sent me this link, and I can’t believe I’ve never seen it before. I so dislike the laminate cabinets in our kitchen/bathrooms, and I thought I just had to live with them. This is great! New hope rising in me! Thank you!

  56. Lynn Rechsteiner says:

    You never fail to amaze me. Love you choices of color. I have been stuck in my kitchen remodel in regard to color. I wanted my old built in cupboard to receive a pop-color redo. I am have now tried three
    different choices–yes three and I’m not satisfied. Once the color dries it just clashes with the other colors or just doesn’t appeal. Maybe I need to keep it simple. Can’t wait to see your finished product!

  57. I’m so glad you posted about this! I have a dining room table that looked like really nice wood, until something ruined the finish. I can’t wait to try and paint it black. I had no idea that a water based primer was the way to go. Good think I stopped by here before spending money at the store!

  58. Diane Ruiz says:

    Rhoda, I was reading your blog on painting laminate
    cabinets and I’m very interested.
    But I am not sure on the primer issue. It seems you primed
    It twice, am I wrong? If so why didn’t you use the shellac primer with the alcohol base, it sounded kind of interesting.

    Thank you
    Waiting for your answer.

    • Hi, Diane, I only primed those cabinets once, with regular latex primer. But if I was doing it again, I would use the shellac primer. I didn’t know about it when I did that cabinet. But, really an oil-based primer or shellac primer would definitely hold up well on these laminate cabinet bases. Either one should be fine, the shellac is extra tough. Mine held up pretty well with only a water-based primer, but I’d recommend the oil or shellac in the future.

  59. Hi
    I wonder if you have ever painted a laminated counter top. I was watching the Nate Berkus show and he said that there is paint for this at the Home Depot……..

    Love your tips..thanks

    • Hi, C, I did use Rustoleum Countertop transformations kit and used it on my laminate. I really think you could use their Zinsser shellac primer and scuff up a laminate and prime and paint it. It would be worth a shot!

  60. Rhoda, how can one tell the difference in laminate and fiberboard construction? Our house was built in 1977 and I think the vanities are fiberboard; they don’t have a shiny, plastic-like finish. We’ve lived here 8 years now; way past time to start updating these bathrooms. We have replaced one toilet and I want to replace the vanity in that same bathroom as that is what I classify as the main bathroom; it is the one any guest in our home even for a few hours or overnight would use. I feel that the Master bathroom is private for just us so that can wait a while before being replaced. We have installed new shower door in master bathroom though and love it. Have you had any experience painting fiberboard vanities? They are white, and have that standard decorated gold trim. No shine to the construction like laminate would be.

    • HI, Betty, you should be able to paint fiberboard or whatever you have with a good primer. Just prime with a good oil-based primer and then use 2 coats of paint, either satin or semi-gloss if you want a little sheen. Any surface like this can be painted.

  61. Hi Rhoda,

    I didn’t think there was any hope for my white laminate bathroom cabinets. The picture of your bathroom really inspired me so I ran to Home Depot to get the exact color and paint. Although Home Depot doesn’t carry the Ralph Lauren paint anymore, they still had the formula for turret stair and were able to make me a can of the paint. I’m happy to say that my bathroom cabinets look fabulous.

    Thanks so much!

    • Thanks for sharing that, Susan! Turret Stair is a great color. Glad you are happy with it.

      • Yes, Turret Stair is a wonderful color. I featured my cabinets on my blog today and have a link to your blog as well. I hope you don’t mind.

  62. I have laminate cabinets in the kitchen and I want to paint them in white color. I think that the kitchen will look much cleaner and brighter. Thank you for the helpful article! You helped me a lot!

  63. Thank you Thank you Thank you!! I’ve been scouring the internet trying to figure out how to paint my white laminate to brown and yours is the first one I’ve finally found. All the others have been brown laminate to white and I wanted to make sure it would work going from white to brown.


  1. […] to paint them.  Isn’t the Internet fabulous?!  I was excited when I found Rhoda’s Southern Hospitality blog which outlined how to paint the […]

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