Melamine cabinets with oak trim were a popular style back when I was a kid. The before and after photos speak for themselves! This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Purchases made through these links may earn me a small commission, which helps keep this site up and running! Even the 80s track lighting was replaced with a shiny new kitchen track lighting.
But all these new things made the rest of the kitchen more drab than ever. The melamine cabinets with oak trim looked so sad next to the bright white and stainless steel. Adding insult to injury, our blue laminate countertops with oak trim were being upstaged by the contact paper covering the countertop of the new cabinet.
Yes, even stuck-on fake granite is an upgrade! Check out how my contact paper kitchen counter has held up over the last two years!
Something had to be done. I really wanted to paint the cabinets white, but I was worried about how well regular paint would stick to melamine. These tips are specifically made for those of us suffering with these ugly melamine cabinets with oak trim.
There are a lot of steps, but you can do it! Sign up below and get it delivered straight to you inbox! Sign up for my email list and get a FREE page guide and checklist to help walk you through every step to updating your 80's kitchen cabinets!
Thank you for signing up for my email list! Check your email for your free guide and checklist! There was an error submitting your subscription. Email Address We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. A good primer will cover up the oak, and prevent the tannins from seeping to the surface. The white turned an orangey-yellow as it dried, and it took 4 coats to cover it up.
Zinsser B-I-N primer , which is shellac based, stopped tannin bleed amazingly well. After two coats of the paint supplied in the kit, the orange was gone! Use the right brush Of course, you should use a high quality brush for the flat parts of the cabinets. But what about the hooked part of the grab bar, and the thin cabinet frame?
A regular brush slops too much paint in these areas, leaving big blobs that need to be sanded down. Just a small amount of paint on the very tip of the bristles will suffice. I found I had a lot less dripping this way, even if it meant I went back to the paint can more often.
Work with gravity The trademark of these 80s kitchen cabinets is the oak grab bar. But when you paint the grab bar on a flat surface, a lot of that paint is going to drip down before it has a chance to set.
Instead, paint the hook first, then move on to the rest of the door. Then go back to the hook area, and run the artist brush over the pooled paint. Use that paint to go over the hook again. This does two things.
First, it removes the pooled paint before it hardens and makes a big blob inside the grab bar. Second, the pooled paint is more tacky than fresh paint, which makes it easier to stick to the top of the hook. Powered by ConvertKit 4. The melamine is super smooth, but the oak has large pores and open grain.
These differences are visible even with many coats of paint. We only plan to keep these cabinets for another year or two, so I skipped this step. You can see the obvious difference in texture here.
Caulk the Gaps You may want to caulk between the wooden grab bar and the melamine door for a more seamless finish. Luckily, it was a lower cabinet, and you would have to be lying on the floor to see it. Adding a line of caulk in this gap would go a long way to making these doors look like one solid piece. By brushing the top coat in the opposite direction horizontal instead of vertical , the clear top coat skimmed over all the bumps, making the final surface dry to a glassy finish.
Alternate the direction of the brush strokes of the paint as well for a flawless result. Use a backer board when drilling hardware holes Adding new hardware to these cabinets brings them up to date, and preserves your brand new paint job.
Drill the holes for your hardware before you start painting. Clamp the door and board down to the work surface so nothing shifts and the board is held tight to the back of the door, then drill your holes. The board will hold the melamine around the hole in place so you get less chipping. Email Address Sign me up! We won't send you spam. The results are totally worth it! Want more DIY projects? Subscribe to get project ideas, home improvement tips, woodworking plans and more delivered straight to your inbox!
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