White painted bathroom vanity with bare wood.
Bathroom vanity with peeling melamine coating.

Some bathroom and kitchen cabinets are covered with a plastic melamine coating, which can separate from the substrate over time.

If the plastic melamine coating has only come loose in a few areas, you can reattach it using an instant adhesive, such as Super Glue or Krazy Glue.

Using instant glue to reattach peeling melamine coating on cabinet.
Using instant glue to reattach peeling melamine coating on cabinet.

If larger areas of the plastic coating are loose, you will need to paint the cabinet.

To paint a peeling plastic coated cabinet:

  1. Remove any loose or peeling plastic coating.
  2. Sand the surface to dull the gloss and smooth the transition between the bare wood and plastic coating.
  3. Vacuum off any sanding dust, then wipe the cabinet down with a damp cloth.
  4. Apply one or more coats of a bonding primer to the cabinet (spray primer works best).
  5. Apply two topcoats of paint over the primed surface (spray paint gives a smoother surface).

When spraying painting be sure to:

  • Mask adjacent surfaces with painter’s tape.
  • Use drop cloths to cover anything you don’t want painted.
  • Wear a respirator rated for spraying paint.
  • Provide plenty of ventilation.
Woman spray painting bathroom vanity.
Spray painting over a melamine coated bathroom vanity.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
Danny Lipford: Some cabinets have a plastic melamine surface coating, rather than being painted or stained. When this vinyl coating begins to peel, you can either remove all of the coating and repaint, or simply repair the damaged areas. Repair is far less time consuming.

If the coating is loose but intact, it can sometimes be successfully reglued using an instant adhesive, such as Super Glue, that is compatible with vinyl. The peeled areas need to be sanded to remove the loose material and minimize the transition from bare wood to the vinyl.

The next step is coating the entire surface with a bonding primer. This will cover the bare wood and prepare the Melamine to accept a top coat of paint. Depending on the thickness of the melamine it may take more than one coat of primer to smooth out the surface.

Since melamine has a smooth finish, using a spray for the primer and paint is a good option. Just be sure to mask off adjacent surfaces, provide plenty of ventilation, and wear a respirator.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. I have melamine cabinets in my whole house and they are white. Over the years the paint has scratched off and I wanted to know if there is a way to touch up the cabinets rather than do the whole cabinets as was in the video above.

  2. My kitchen cabinets are white over the years the plastic is starting to come off what should I do to repair and make them new again

  3. How to repair “spots” of popcorn that are peeling from ceiling? I tried the canned type from big box stores unsuccessfully.

  4. I have an area on one of my cupboards with a large bubble where the plastic or vinyl has come away from the wood. How do I fix that problem?

    • Hi, Nancy,
      Here’s “Today’s Homeowner” host Danny Lipford’s answer to your question:
      “You might try removing the door, placing it on a flat surface, and weighing it down with a number of books. That may allow it to flatten out after a day or two.”
      Thanks for your question.

  5. My kitchen cabinets are a light brown melamine and I would like to paint them white. Can you tell me how to go about doing this? Thank you for your time.

  6. I had a high quality kitchen, although I wasn’t a fan of the cabinet color. I prepped, sanded and painted my cabinets last month and wow! My kitchen looks much larger and brighter. Downside, the color came out more blue than grey, and I cant seem to come to terms with it.

    The cabinets are painted with a melamine paint. Can I repaint in a truer grey color, on top of my newly painted cabinets, without all of the prep work? Or do I need to sand, etc again??
    I’m so discouraged!

    • Hi, Malory!
      Kudos for taking on this project, first of all! We bet the kitchen looks great.
      As for your question, unfortunately, yes, you will need to restart the process, starting with sanding those cabinets!
      Good luck with your project.

  7. Hi Danny! LOVE YOUR SHOW AND CAST!!!
    I had new LVT flooring installed and the company who installed it knicked my laminate cabinet in the process.
    I need to give them a company that they can send it to for repair, before I pay them for the flooring job.

    Do you have any recommendations?

    I would send an attachment of the “injury” but this comment section doesn’t allow it. :/

    • Hi, Jeanine,

      Thanks for watching the TV show and for the great feedback!

      TodaysHomeowner.com features home improvement advice but we don’t offer information on individual home builders, repairers and suppliers.
      We encourage checking your local phone listings for this information.

      Good luck with that knicked cabinet!

  8. Hi: I burnt the edge of my melamine coated custom made cabinet (about one inch long) and have no idea how to fix it. I have even thought of replacing the whole door but not sure the colour would be the same. These doors are only 3 years old and the cabinet maker who made them retired and is not available. Any help would be appreciated.

  9. Danny
    I have always enjoyed your home repair shows! Thank you so much for making this video. I feel really good about making this repair.
    Thank you again!
    Best regards

  10. My white plastic covered kitchen cabinets look their age (>20 years). I watched your video. There’s peeling and totally gone areas. Since they were white, can I change the color easily?
    Thanks, Martie

    • Hi, Martie,
      You mentioned that parts of the coating were ‘totally gone,’ so provided there’s not too much damage, the restoration should be simple enough!
      We used white paint here, but if you sand the entire surface, add one or more coats of bonding primer and two topcoats, the new color should look great.
      Good luck!

  11. I live in a manufactured home. My cabinets are white, I think it’s paper covered wood. The edges are lifting here and there. What kind of adhesive can I use to attach the paper before it gets real bad.

  12. We had our kitchen cabinets resurfaced about 20 years ago. While vacuuming the floor, my wife caught a corner of a cabinet with the vacuum cleaner and broke off a piece of the laminate. Unfortunately the piece was accidentally thrown away before I could glue it back on. Is there a product that can be used to cover the area where the laminate is missing? The area is approximately 2 sq inches. I’ve seen the various laminate “seam sealers” on the internet but none indicate their products are suitable for what I need. Thank you!

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