How to paint MDF, melamine & laminated kitchen cabinets and furniture

Sometimes a fresh coat of paint is all that’s needed to add a totally new look to kitchen cupboards and furniture. Our Eggshell No. 17 and Eco Chic are perfect for painting interior woodwork and wooden furniture. But if you’re planning to paint melamine and MDF surfaces, they’ll require a little more preparation.

It’s worth bearing in mind that many kitchen units are now made from composite materials like MDF or particleboard and coated with a laminated wood, plastic or a melamine finish. Likewise, a lot of furniture (especially the flat pack variety!) is made from coated MDF or chipboard.

Preparing MDF and laminate furniture for painting

Preparation is key when it comes to painting these types of surfaces. So if you’re planning on painting kitchen cupboards, melamine surfaces or particleboard furniture, read on for our top tips to achieve a professional, long-lasting finish:

Where possible remove handles, hinges and hardware before painting, or mask any areas you don’t want to paint.

Repair cracks or holes with a strong wood filler, let it dry thoroughly then sand smooth.

Melamine and foil-coated particleboard isn’t absorbent like wood or plaster. So to provide a key and help the paint stick, it’s important to sand the entire surface to a matt finish. Don’t forget to wear a suitable mask when sanding and work in a well-ventilated area… or outside if possible!

Vacuum and wipe away any excess dust. Then thoroughly clean the surface with a damp cloth .

We’d always recommend priming these types of surfaces first – our water based Multi Purpose Primer is ideal!

Earthborn Multi Purpose Primer isn’t like a normal paint. It has a semi opaque finish, so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t appear to fully cover the surface. The point is to prepare the area and give the paint something to stick to.

How to paint melamine and MDF kitchen cabinets and furniture

Once you’ve prepared and primed all your surfaces, you’re ready for the fun part… painting!

We’d recommend using either our Eggshell No.17 or Eco Chic paint finishes. Both are Toy Safety approved, virutally VOC free and can be applied by brush, roller or spray.

Earthborn Eggshell No. 17 dries to a durable, soft sheen and doesn’t require any extra protective finishing. Simply apply 2-3 coats of Eggshell No. 17, allowing each coat to dry thoroughly. For an ultra-smooth finish, lightly sand the dried surface in between coats with fine sandpaper before applying the next coat.

For more information on applying Eggshell No.17, why not check out this blogpost featuring a step by step guide to painting kitchen cabinets?

You can also check out how Pandora Maxton transformed her kitchen cabinets using our off-white colour Up Up Away.


Alternatively, you could use Earthborn Eco Chic furniture paint, a thick and creamy clay based paint that gives a more ‘hand finished’ look. Again apply at least two coats, and finish with our clear Furniture Glaze or soft Furniture Wax for extra protection. Then leave to dry thoroughly before re-attaching doors or adding handles.

Open shelves with glasses, dishes and plants above a kitchen counter.

It will take up to 10 days for our paints and other finishes to fully cure, so wipe away any marks or spills carefully during this time until the paint is fully hardened.

If you’re dreaming of a new kitchen or updated furniture, painting cabinets and replacing the hardware can be a simple and cost effective way of transforming your space.

Head to our Pinterest to see loads of ideas and before-and-after images, ranging from budget kitchen makeovers to easy wardrobe door updates!

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