Can you paint veneer cabinets? Yes, you can! Here is a complete tutorial on how to paint veneer cabinets for a long-lasting professional finish.
I have been slowly remodeling my garage over the last 6 months – something I had planned from the day we moved into this house 3 years ago!
The garage came with many cabinets and shelves – and I was really happy about them when we moved in but soon realized they were either in really bad condition or weren’t efficiently placed.
As part of a teardown of the garage, we got rid of all the cabinets (they all actually fell apart when we took them down) with the exception of a set of bottom cabinets that were in decent shape and had good bones.
We did, however, move them to a different wall to make it a better flow.
These are veneer cabinets and its hard to tell from the pictures but there are 3 different cabinets made with slightly different veneers.
Paint has a way of making everything new and fresh, plus I wanted a splash of color and a change from the boring dirty brown cabinets.
Can you paint veneer cabinets?
You sure can!
The key, like for any painted project, is in the prep and choice of primer and paint. Proper cleaning to remove all the grime and dust, sanding the right amount, and using the right adhesion-promoting primer can make a huge difference in the durability of the finish.
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- Masking Tape
- Sanding sponge – medium and fine grit
- Tack cloths
- Adhesion promoting primer
- Handy Paint Tray
- Handy Paint tray liners
- High-density foam roller and roller frame
- Paint in color of your choice.
How to paint veneer cabinets
Although the process below is for my garage cabinets, you can follow the same technique to paint veneer kitchen cabinets as well!
Step 1 – Prep and clean
- Start with removing all cabinet doors and hardware. Also, remove the drawers and empty them to put them aside.
- Clean to remove all the grime and dirt. It is best to use TSP to thoroughly clean the cabinets and then wipe them down a few times with a wet cloth.
My cabinets had years of dirt and grime and this was definitely the longest step in the whole process.
- Set down some masking tape around the cabinets – like at the base to protect the floors or on the sides to protect the walls.
Step 2 – Sand
- Thoroughly sand the surface using a medium grit.
This step is the key to a long-lasting finish. It ensures that the surface is rough enough for the primer and paint to adhere.
I like to use my sanding sponges for this since they are easy to hold. You could use an electrical sander but it can be too rigorous and sand away the veneer.
I went over all the doors, drawer faces and the face frame of the cabinet.
- At the end of sanding, wipe off all the dust from the surfaces. I like using tack cloths for this.
Step 3 – Primer
I like to use the roller to roll onto large surface areas like the cabinet doors and drawers. For the face frame, I use the brush. Using a good quality roller on larger areas makes sure there are no brush strokes visible.
The choice of primer is an important one. I suggest using an adhesion-promoting primer like this one that I used.
- Allow the primer to dry for 4-6 hours and then give it a light sanding with the sanding sponge, followed by cleaning all the dust and then the next coat of primer.
Let’s take a quick minute to talk about the Handy Paint Tray! It has a sturdy design with handles on both ends that make it easy to carry and comes with liners so clean up is easy. I especially love the magnetic brush holder which makes it easy to switch between a roller and brush in projects like these.
Step 4 – Paint
Painting is a three-step process –
- Use a brush to paint the inside edge of the cabinet frame and the tow kicks.
- Use a roller to paint the large surfaces like the sides and the front of the cabinet frame.
- Use a roller to paint both sides of the cabinet doors
- Wait for each coat to cure before going on to the next coat – so about 24 hours.
It means a lot of patience, but it is important for a strong finish! I am pretty sure you don’t want the paint to start peeling off with time resulting in a cabinet that is messier than you first started out with.
Remember more thin coats are better than a few thick coats.
- Be sure to sand lightly between coats with a fine sanding sponge and clean up all the dust between coats.
- As soon as the last coat is done, be sure to pull off the tape before the paint dries to get clean lines.
Painting is my favorite step! You can see the transformation come to life with the color!
I like using a semigloss latex paint for the cabinets. I used Dragonfly by Behr to paint the cabinets to tie in with the other feature wall.
Step 5 – Put it back together!
Once the paint has cured for about 48 hours, you can put the cabinet back together – re-attach the hardware and hinges.
That’s it! Time to admire your newly painted cabinets!
As I mentioned earlier, this process can be used for painting any veneer cabinets – kitchen, bathroom, garage… you name it.
I leave you with this before and after comparison. The power of paint is amazing!
More painting tutorials-
- How to paint outdoor wood
- How to update cabinets with Gel stain
- How to paint unfinished pine furniture