Laminate and melamine are common finish surfaces for many countertops, cabinets, and shelves, but these plastic materials are known for being susceptible to wear—not to mention becoming quickly outdated. They tend to get scratched and nicked with everyday use, and many countertops have a burn mark or two. Unlike homogeneous solid-surface counter materials, such as Corian or butcher-block wood—both of which can be effectively sanded down smooth and brought back to like-new condition—laminate and melamine can’t be sanded to restore it.
But, you can do the next best thing: Resurface the laminate or melamine with a quality paint job. It can extend the life of your current kitchen before you think about a whole kitchen do-over and demolition.
Unlike wood, laminate and melamine cannot be sanded down to a natural grain—because they have no natural grain. With wood, exposing the grain is vital for the paint to adhere to. Laminate and melamine are designed to repel kitchen spills, like food, oil, and water, so they naturally repel paint also.
It’s vital that you properly prepare the surface so that the paint will stick over the long term. Improperly applied paint will peel off of laminate and melamine, creating a bigger mess than you started out with. You will need to degloss and roughen the plastic surface of laminate and melamine with a light sanding or a liquid deglosser. Also, you will need specialized paint or coating for melamine and laminate. Some paints will call for a primer coat before applying the paint, while others can be used without primer.
What Is Deglossing?
Glossy surfaces that have glossy paints, varnishes, or hard surfaces like melamine or laminate are shiny and made to repel water, dirt, and other substances. Liquid sandpaper or deglosser and the mechanical process of sanding with sandpaper helps dull those surfaces, preps the area for a new coat of paint or varnish, and helps a new finish bond onto the surface, preventing it from chipping or peeling.
Materials like dropcloths and contractor’s paper are used to protect the working area, flooring, and furniture. Also, take measures to protect yourself and the people in the house with personal protection equipment like dust masks and goggles. The fine dust particulate that results from sanding down plastic can be dangerous to inhale. Tape off the work zone with plastic sheeting and open windows and use fans for ventilation of the paint fumes.
Source: The Spruce