Painting outdated or boring cabinetry can make a huge difference in a kitchen or bathroom’s appearance. If your cabinets are in perfect shape but are not aligned with your taste, it can feel like a risky move to take on a potentially disastrous makeover. I experienced my own disastrous mess with my master bath cabinets which took lots of sanding, re-priming, re-painting, repeat….multiple times.

It worked out in the end but almost turned me off the process entirely. However, with items like new counters and floors eating up the budget for my powder room makeover, I had to brave this task again. I’m writing to share the process and hopefully help you avoid making the same mistakes I made.

A before pic of the cabinets:

For some people these cabinets would be perfectly fine, I simply wanted a bit more oomph via an infusion of colour.

First of all, my cabinets are laminate. This really makes a difference. Re-finishing wood cabinets is a totally different process and you’ll find many blogs with good tutorials on how to do this. These directions are specifically for laminate.

Materials: Primer, Monamel  paint or similar product, tack cloth, foam roller, painters tape, fine bristle paintbrush, drydex, screw driver, drill, medium grit sanding pad, fine grit sanding pad.

Step 1: Remove doors from cabinet and remove hardware from door.

Step 2: If you plan on changing the hardware use drydex to fill in one or both holes left by the old hardware depending on what you are replacing it with. You will need to push the drydex into the hole to make sure it fills it out right to the other side.

Step 3: After drydex is dry, sand off extra with a medium grit sanding pad. If hole is still visible on the good side of the door add a bit more drydex right on top of the hole. Let dry. Sand. (Note: because you are working with laminate you do not need to sand down the cabinet and doors before painting. You only need to sand off the excess drydex)

Step 4: Cover the area where you are putting your new hardware with painters tape. Measure out where your new hole(s) should go based on your chosen hardware (measure more than once!) and mark on top of painters tape. Drill. You are drilling through the painters tape in order to avoid chipping the laminate. Once finished, remove tape.

Step 5: Use painters tape to tape off all edges of the cabinet where it touches the wall and floor. Also tape the back of the doors to avoid paint leaks.


Step 6: Use a cloth dipped in soap and water to give the cabinet and doors a good scrub. Dry with cloth then use tack cloth to remove any remaining hairs and dust.

Step 7: Elevate doors on stools or books so you can easily paint the edges.


Step 8: Apply Primer. First use a fine bristled brush to paint areas your foam roller cannot reach. Then use foam roller as much as possible in order to avoid brush marks. You should be able to prime the doors entirely with the foam roller. Load your foam roller with paint then roll back and forth on a piece of paper to help push the paint into the foam. Roll on more paint then start painting your door. This technique helps to avoid that splotchy look you often get your first couple of rolls. Because you are priming laminate the primer will not seem to stick very well this first coat.

Step 9: Let dry then repeat step 8 once or twice more. Between coats of primer use a fine grit sanding pad (pad, not paper, the paper tends to scratch) to gently remove any obvious dust particles stuck in the previous coat of paint. Remove excess dust with tack cloth before applying next coat.

Step 10: Your priming is done. Once dry, gently sand out any obvious dust particles stuck in last coat of primer. After wiping surface area with tack cloth to remove dust, use brush to apply monamel to hard to reach areas of the cabinet then begin to roll on paint.

Using a foam roller to give a spray smooth finish takes a certain technique that I have only recently mastered. Some important things to remember are:

a.) ensure that the foam roller is properly saturated. Use the same technique as noted before of rolling paint onto a piece of paper before re-applying paint to roller and moving onto the door.

b.) instead of trying to cover the door from top to bottom in one roll, do small sections. For example, with your first roll focus on the top few inches of the cabinet, apply more paint to roller, then move down to your next few inches, blending in with paint above. This way you are not trying to stretch the paint too far and you get better, more even coverage.

Monamel paint is also self levelling which helps the paint to achieve a spray like finish.

(I didn’t want to pay wordpress $60 to allow me to post my how to video but if you go to my Fabrictherapy facebook page you can check out my videos for painting with a foam roller. Warning, it’s my first attempt at making a DIY video and it is pretty dodgy.)

After the first coat it will look pretty sketch but don't worry.
After the first coat it will look pretty sketch but don’t worry.

Step 11: Allow paint to dry. Monamel paint needs a long time to cure before applying a second coat. You can touch it after a couple of hours but wait 20-24 hours then gently sand away obvious dust and hair particles. Wipe down with tack cloth to remove dust then apply second coat.

Repeat step 11 then apply third and final coat. Do not sand final coat. Once you have the doors hanging again any stuck dust particles won’t be obvious. You just need to remove them between coats so you don’t have a build up of junk between layers of paint.

Step 12: Just to be cautious, give paint 24 hours to dry before attaching new hardware and putting doors back on the cabinet.

Step 13: Use an exacto knife to cut seam between paint and painters tape so that when you pull the tape off it doesn’t peel away the paint with it.

Voila! You just saved yourself hundred of dollars and your cabinets look brand new!


Note: Some DIY instructions may suggest applying lacquer on top of the paint but monamel paint is one of the hardiest paints you can use for a project like this so you don’t have to worry about applying lacquer for durability.  In fact, I highly recommend you do not apply lacquer to the cabinet because it is super tricky to get an even finish on laminate as it has no wood grain for the lacquer to sink into (I speak from painful experience).

As always, feel free to post a comment or send me an e-mail at if anything is unclear. Happy painting!



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