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Melamine painting advice

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  • Sep 7th, 2021 9:58 am
[OP]
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Jun 21, 2003
4758 posts
2097 upvotes
Stoney Creek, ON

Melamine painting advice

I’ll be the first to admit I hate painting and I’m not great at it. We recently inherited 2 free books shelves that are melamine and had a wood look to them. Neither of us like that look and since the plan was to use them in my daughters bedroom and play room we opted to let her pick the paint. We told the associate at Home Depot what we were doing and they advised us on an enamel paint to use. We went with that paint in a matte finish. I sanded both units using 150 grit on my sheet sander. All the advise I could find online said to remove the sheen from the melamine which I did. I used a roller and did 2 coats. Everything was looking good however I opted for a third coat since it was going to be used for toy shelves for a rambunctious 2.5 year old. While painting tonight with the roller I accidentally hit the roller handle on an adjacent surface (with what I would have considered minimal force) and it made a scratch right down to the original surface. Now I am concerned about the longevity of these shelves once my daughter gets her hands on them. I’ve been painting in our garage which is not climate controlled.

I could use some advice on how to proceed to rectify this situation. Am I totally screwed and need to sand back down further? Can this project be salvaged without doing that? Could I go with some form of topcoat for protection or does the fact I so easily scratched it all off mean the base coats are useless?

I avoid painting because I don’t enjoy it so I’m very much a rookie. Any help is much appreciated.
12 replies
Deal Addict
Jun 14, 2008
3461 posts
2251 upvotes
Montreal
The top surface is plastic and nothing really sticks well to it. I don't think there's much you can do TBH, so just touch it up and let it be. Maybe if you had used Krylon Fusion from the start it would've worked better, but it's kinda late for that.
Deal Fanatic
Nov 21, 2013
6063 posts
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I painted melamine, and if I recall I used Zinsser Bull's Eye primer. Sanded with 12 EDIT: 180 grit, primed with Zinsser and then added 2 coats of an acrylic paint. Durability was great. Take note that a paint can take up to 30 days (1 month) before perect bonding to the surface. It may be normal that if you scrateched it with the rooler it went through to the surface of melamine, since it been freshly painted.

I eeven used Zinsser Bull's Eye primer on a ceramic backsplash and it been very durable, even with weekly thourough cleanings.
Last edited by DoorCrasher on Sep 5th, 2021 12:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Expert
May 30, 2005
46063 posts
6558 upvotes
Richmond Hill
Melamine isn't meant to be painted... it's plastic. The colour dyes go straight into the plastic and not as a surface layer.

Unfortunately not everything is meant to be remodelled for reuse, things like melamine shelves I would only consider hand me downs if you are going to use them as-is.
Deal Fanatic
Nov 21, 2013
6063 posts
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People, please do not answer if you don't know about painting melamine. Ones who says that melamine is not paintable just don't know what they are talking about. The key about painting thi material is to know how to prepare the surface properly, how to paint it, and let it cure long enough.
Deal Guru
Jan 25, 2007
10614 posts
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Paris
DoorCrasher wrote: People, please do not answer if you don't know about painting melamine. Ones who says that melamine is not paintable just don't know what they are talking about. The key about painting thi material is to know how to prepare the surface properly, how to paint it, and let it cure long enough.
Ok, so please post on how to do that? Melamine is designed to wipe stuff off of it easily, so painting it is made more difficult.
Deal Addict
Nov 9, 2008
1737 posts
770 upvotes
Toronto
I painted some melamine cabinets with good success. There are great primers that adhere well to melamine

Scuffed the finish with sandpaper to remove the gloss, then primed with 2 costs of Insl-x Stix primer. Light sand between coats, then painted with Insl-x Cabinet Coat
Deal Fanatic
Nov 21, 2013
6063 posts
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Jerico wrote: Ok, so please post on how to do that? Melamine is designed to wipe stuff off of it easily, so painting it is made more difficult.
already posted above, by mee and others
Deal Expert
May 30, 2005
46063 posts
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Richmond Hill
DoorCrasher wrote: People, please do not answer if you don't know about painting melamine. Ones who says that melamine is not paintable just don't know what they are talking about. The key about painting thi material is to know how to prepare the surface properly, how to paint it, and let it cure long enough.
Nobody said it's not paintable. I said it's not meant to be painted. Completely defeats the whole purpose of using melamine if you're going to paint it.
Deal Fanatic
Nov 21, 2013
6063 posts
4341 upvotes
Jon Lai wrote: Nobody said it's not paintable. I said it's not meant to be painted. Completely defeats the whole purpose of using melamine if you're going to paint it.
melamine can get out of date if you change the room color. Or, just like OP, who got the 2 shelves for free. Instead of throwing those away, melamine is easily paintable. I don't get the point of buying a new shelf and wanting to paint it right away, but in some cases you HAVE TO / CAN paint it, instead of throwing away

You are playing with words saying '' I said it's not meant to be painted''
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Sep 27, 2006
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Not so easy there Ma…
Fresh paint is easy to scratch and scuff. In some applications like automotive they use paint hardeners to get it tough quicker.

"Depending on color choice, atmospheric conditions, and other variables, latex paint may take up to 60 days for a “full cure”. Latex paint can be put to normal use after a day or two, but should be allowed to cure for at least 14 days before attempting to wipe or wash the walls."
Deal Addict
Mar 22, 2017
1728 posts
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West GTA
Don't worry about it. Fresh paint isn't strong yet, it isn't cured.

That being said, melamine (really plastic) is tough to paint. Typically you sand it up so get it finely scratched, using something like 150 to 240 grit. Once that's done, you want to use a primer, as typical paint doesn't stick that well to plastic. Some people like to use specialty primers, which might work better, I've used typical primer on them (Zinsser Odorless oil-based) and it works fine for low-wear applications. I just primed a melamine attic hatch yesterday ha

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