If your old Formica laminate cabinets are structurally fine, but are looking worn and out of style, painting is a great alternative to the expense and trouble of replacing them. Even the shiniest laminate can hold paint, provided it's properly prepared and you use a good paint and primer. A coat of spray-on polyurethane seals it all in. Make sure the laminate isn't cracked, chipped or loose anywhere. Plan on being without use of the area for at least 2 days once the project is complete to allow the new finish to dry and cure.
Use painter's tape to seal off the walls around the cabinets. Spread out newspapers under the cabinets. Remove the doors and drawers and lay them out on newspapers. Remove all the handles and other hardware and set it aside.
Sand all the laminated surfaces with your palm sander and 100-grit sandpaper. Sand it just enough to take off the shine; don't sand through the laminate. Thoroughly brush away all the dust.
Brush on sealing primer over all the laminated surfaces of the cabinets, doors and drawers. Make it a thin, even layer, with no drips. Let it dry completely according to instructions on the can.
Brush on your first layer of paint, starting at the top of each area of the cabinets and working your way down. Keep the layer very thin and even, even if some of the primer shows through underneath. Let it dry completely.
Apply a second coat of paint in the same way, then a third if necessary.
Let the final coat of paint dry for 48 hours. Spray a light layer of polyurethane gloss over all the surfaces to seal in the paint.