How to Stain Laminate Cabinets

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

It's useful and in good shape, but the color doesn't work with your décor or the mood you hope to inspire each time you enter the room. If you have laminate cabinets that are lovely in all ways but the color, then a quality laminate stain can refresh old cabinets that simply look tired and date. You can take it a step further and paint the cabinets or laminate-covered office furniture to change the look and feel of a room completely.


How to Join a Wire Without Soldering
Image Credit: phototropic/iStock/GettyImages

Homeowners can refinish or overhaul the front of cabinets for a professional look. It's easier than pulling out and replacing an entire bank of shelving – and a lot less expensive. The quality of the products on the market these days makes it much more user-friendly to do, as well. A crisp, clean look or shabby chic can be created with the right tools and products.


Tools to Save Time and Effort

The gel stains do a great job of changing up your laminate. They will also stain your hands for days. Wear a good pair of gloves that allow you to move your fingers freely when painting in tight spaces. Pick up paintbrushes in various sizes so you don't end up with clumps of paint around door front depressions or patches where the brush didn't quite reach around beveled corners and recesses. Always wash the laminate with warm water and a mild soap to remove any grease or dust from the cabinet. Allow it to dry before moving on to the permanent stains and paints.


Laminate Stain Basics

To refinish cabinet doors with a plastic veneer, you will first want to rough up the plastic so the paint or gel stain can adhere smoothly to the old laminate surface. Otherwise, the laminate will just sit in a sticky layer on top of the laminate and be tacky each time you go to open the cabinet. A laminate stain can be a gel or tinted polyurethane. The gel will cover up the wood grain that is in the plastic, while the tinted polyurethane will allow the faux grain look to show through.

Painted Furniture DIY

Pulling off the look of painted furniture isn't that difficult if it is done correctly. Painting fake wood cabinets can significantly improve the look of a room and bring it into this century if it is truly outdated. You will need to rough up the surface just as you would for a laminate stain project. Next is a shellac based primer. This will allow the slick latex or acrylic paint you choose to have something to stick to. If you skip this step you could have peeling problems pop up rather quickly. A sealant or top coat will keep the paint in place throughout countless encounters with the cabinets as you enjoy your new space.



Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at