Replace or refinish melamine cabinets in kitchen
July 9, 2013 in Design Dilemma
We have contractor-grade white melamine cabinets in our kitchen. They are about 13 years old and the finish is bubbling/peeling. Originally we were looking at replacing all of them, but there are quite a few so it will be expensive. We started swapping out the tacky shiny brass handles for some more pleasing silver ones and wondered if there was some way to re-finish the facing instead.

Currently they are a shiny white finish. The white color wouldn't be so bad but we're not a fan of the high-gloss. And the typical antique off-white is definitely not our taste.

Is anybody familiar with a product/service we could use?
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I guess it matters to know how many places it is bubbling/peeling, and whether you like the style, not just how it's falling apart, LOL.

No matter what you use, you are going to have to either peel the areas that are peeling/bubbling, or sand them, so whatever you decide to do stays put. I like the details in the doors, as I had builder grade flat doors & drawers.

You can use a white that's not so shiny, I'd recommend an eggshell or semi-gloss finish. If it were me, trying to figure this out, I'd choose a door that is in as obscure a place as possible that is also bubbling, and try to sand or peel off the parts that are damaged, sand it and paint it with a small white paint sample that you get from one of the home improvement stores. If you like how it looks after a couple of weeks, you'll know how it will stand up. If not, then you can always order new doors and drawer faces, I've seen that online by several manufacturers. This is a way to update with a minimal expense. I have 18 doors & drawer faces and I think it would have been around $600 when I priced it about a year ago.

Good luck.
   July 9, 2013 at 2:22PM
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1 Like   Thanked by sigpop    July 9, 2013 at 2:26PM
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Margaret B
JudyG what a fabulous idea book. Great info. Trying to decide what to do with some cabinets in my home and this was definitely helpful.
1 Like   July 9, 2013 at 5:19PM
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Kitty Rogers
The roller is important so make sure you buy a roller that rolls across and doesn't slide....also im sure you can treat it with something to have the paint stick....ask at you local lowe's
   July 9, 2013 at 5:34PM
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You said there are several, but I am wondering if these are nearby a stove, or a dishwasher. It looks like the top layer of melamine or veneer may be delaminating, which could be caused by heat/wet steam. As an interim measure, and if they are uppers, could you switch the problem doors out with better looking bottom doors? At least you wouldn't have to look at it while you decide. If the rest of the cabinetry seems pretty solid, you might contact a firm that refaces for estimates.
   July 9, 2013 at 5:36PM
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The problem with melamine is that it is a plasic-like coating over particle board. Once that surface goes it is done. I would not try to paint over doors that are bubbling ( usually happens to melamine from high heat cooking). It is not like a painted surface. If the boxes are in good condition, you could just replace the doors and drawer fronts. I have seen websites that sell new unfinished wood cabinet parts. You can buy just what you need and finish them the way that you want.
   Thanked by sigpop    July 9, 2013 at 5:40PM
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Gregory Dedona Architect
Don't waste any time and energy refinishing these melamine doors. Melamine might have formaldehyde in it which may have out-gassed by now, but you could test for it. You could reface them with plastic laminate, but that is also probably not cost effective and you would only obtain a flush door (not a panel) look. I would just replace the doors, allowing you the opportunity to pick a new door style you like. You can leave the boxes in place assuming they are OK, but if they need replacing as well you are in for much more involved project (new cabinets), especially the lower base cabinets as the counter tops will need to be removed and replaced.
1 Like   July 9, 2013 at 6:01PM
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A Kitchen That Works LLC
You will not be rewarded for your efforts if you try and refinish melamine.
   July 9, 2013 at 6:03PM
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Unfort it is both upper and lowers and not just those near the stove and dishwasher. Even the ones on the island are starting to look bad. I think the boxes will be ok so maybe just hunting down some new doors and drawer facing is the best way to go. I'd hate to put a bunch of work into this only to have it turn out sub-par. I'm sure that will be much cheaper than full-out replacements.

Thanks for all the suggestions.
   July 11, 2013 at 12:30PM
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