DECOR & DIY, DIY, Home & Garden, Reviews

DIY: Melamine Cupboard Refresh

The product used in this post is partly sponsored.

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I promised you a “How To” as well as a review on the Fired Earth Cabinet & Furniture paint that I used for my most recent project: DIY Melamine Cupboard refresh.

To recap, the products I used are as follows:DIY melamine cupboard refresh - Sawdust and High Heels (6)


  • Foam roller
  • Paint tray (lined with aluminum foil if you would like)
  • Silicone bristle paint brush
  • Masking Tape
  • Drop Cloth
  • Ladder (if you are short like me)
  • Screw drivers (flat and phillips)
  • Sand paper (100 grit)
  • Cloth
  • Soapy warm water
  • Paint stirrer
  • Wood filler
  • Drill

All products and supplies are available from Builders.

The Before:

Just for reference, here are a few befores:

DIY melamine cupboard refresh - Sawdust and High Heels (2)

DIY melamine cupboard refresh - Sawdust and High Heels (1)

Gross, right?!

How to refresh your cupboards:

Paint the cupboard doors:

  1. If you can, remove all the doors from the hinges and lay flat on trestles – I couldn’t do this because of limited space, but it is preferable
  2. Remove all the handles. I needed the phillips screwdriver for this part,
  3. To prep the area, I sanded the cupboards down before washing them. My reason was twofold: the cupboards had been (badly) painted before and I wanted to rough up the surface a bit for better adhesion of the new paint.
  4. Fill the holes from the handles, if necessary.
  5. Go ahead and tape off where necessary. If you can cut in cleanly, then you can skip this step. I however cannot cut in, so tape it is.
  6. Put the drop cloth down.
  7. Open the paint can (I used the flat head screwdriver for this part) and mix well.
  8. Decant into your paint tray.
  9. Start painting – cut in with the brush and roll bigger areas with the foam roller. I found that I got a better finish with the roller, so tried to use this for most of the project.
  10. Once the first coat is done, you can pack up for the day and wash all your supplies with warm water. Dry time between coats is 6 hours, so this is not a quick project.
  11. Repeat steps 4 to 8 for another coat or 2, depending on the coverage that you get.
  12. Once the last coat has had at least 6 hours to dry, you can go ahead and fit the handles. You may need to drill new holes, depending on the handles you will be using.

Update the handles:

If you are reusing your current handles, or you find handles you like, but not in the colour you like, you can spray paint them. This part can be done between drying times.

  1. Scuff the handles with sandpaper (I skipped this step because I was lazy and I’m sorry that I did because my final product is not as smooth as I would like. Do Not Be Lazy Like Stacy!)
  2. Clean the handles off, making sure that they are dry.
  3. Line up on a piece of cardboard or old wood, bearing in mind that there will be a lot of over-spray from the spray paint
  4. Shake the paint can as directed.
  5. Spray your first thin coat and leave to dry.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for as many coats as necessary. I needed to turn my handles a bit to ensure that I got all over coverage, so keep this in mind.

The Result?

DIY melamine cupboard refresh - Sawdust and High Heels (5)

DIY melamine cupboard refresh - Sawdust and High Heels (4)

DIY melamine cupboard refresh - Sawdust and High Heels (16)

Thoughts on the Fired Earth made by me Cabinet and Furniture paint:

  • The beauty of this product is that it’s a paint, primer and top coat all in one, so you only need one product, instead of 3. It’s also acrylic, which means wash up is a breeze – just a bit of warm water and you’re done.
  • The paint is very low odour. So low odour that I hardly smelt it.
  • It is quite thin and goes on really easily with a foam roller. I did however need to do 3 coats instead of 2 (and probably could have gone for a 4th as well if I wanted to). The number of coats I needed might have been down to me making my coats too thin. According to the can, I should have used nearly all of both cans that I bought when in truth, I only used one.
  • Because I was painting with the doors still hanging, the paint did tend to pool a bit at the bottom of each door. I’m not surprised by this though, because, you know, gravity. This is why I would have preferred to have painted the doors on a flat surface.
  • The paint did level itself out a bit, so where I did need to use the brush, the strokes weren’t too evident. I did however still prefer the finish from the sponge roller.
  • The paint finish is a smooth, medium gloss finish. It does have a bit of a sheen which makes it a little difficult to photograph. It does however bounce the limited natural light in the room beautifully, so it’s well worth it! Overall, I really like this product so far.
  • It takes 7 days to fully cure and I do want to test it out a bit more before I give my final thoughts, so I will update this post in about 3 months.

Final musings

We finished the bulk of my son’s room just over year ago, but we left the cupboards. They were ugly, yes, but they were functional and did the job. Now, looking at the what they look like after just a bit of paint, I question why on earth I didn’t do it sooner! I know that cupboards can be boring, but they are rather necessary. So we may as well make the most of them!

And that’s about it, really. If you have any questions, or would like any more information on what I did or the products I used, let me know. I’ll do my best to help you!


Stacy - Sawdust and High Heels

2 thoughts on “DIY: Melamine Cupboard Refresh

  1. Hi

    I am painting a melamine type cupboard and although I have sanded it ( well !) with an electric sander after 2 coats it is still not aherering well and I am sure it will flake off easily even when it is dry. Any ideas as to the best way to seal it or any tips regarding preparation and painting ?


    1. Hi Cathy,

      Are you using the Fired Earth Cabinet Paint? It has a built in primer which helps with adhesion. Just try not to go over it too many times as you’re painting the coat on, as it needs time to cure. If you’re using a standard acrylic paint, I would suggest priming the area first.

      I hope this helps!


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