Painting over pressboard: Yeay or nay?

We have cupboards made of what I think is pressboard. They are very plain, look like wood, but actually aren't. I am interested in painting the cupboards as well as the wood boarder around the counters.

Does anyone have experience with this? Is there a good way and/or a bad way (to avoid)?


I am trying to avoid further tackiness, but the pressboard look is just killing me. I'd like them to look more modern without having to replace them (yet, anyway!)



Tagged: , ,

View/Add Comments (8)


(2000 character limit)

Susan on Sep 09, 2013:

I have a cheap vanity made of pressed wood. Can I paint it?

VickiR on May 06, 2013:

I had a 'professional' painter do the cabinets in a rental of mine. They came out hideous because the edges of the laminate doors were not/could not be sanded enough to make them smooth. I dragged the painter to Home Depot and purchased molding and created a picture-frame look on all the doors. White molding on milk-chocolate doors came out with the most beautiful 'custom look'! Against the painter's advise, I used decorative molding that was narrow on one edge and wider on the other, (probably 3" wide overall) putting the narrow edge towards the edge of the doors. When completed the painted admitted that MY way was better than what he had in mind!! I intend on putting on a topcoat of some type of satin polyurethane the next time it is vacant as tenants seem to put scratches in places I can't even reach!! LOL!

In summary, the painting worked well. I think he used Kelly Moore Dura-Poxy. If your door edges are as bad as mine were, I don't have an answer for you unless you want to do what I did. If they are in good shape, I say go ahead and prep, prime and paint!! I like CasaHartman's idea of trying it out on the inside! At least you'd get an idea if you are going to like the color! Best of luck to you! Please update with successes and failures!

AsianSpanker on Dec 09, 2010:

Well, yeah...you could spraypaint if you have a compressor, and a spray gun. But I am a marine engineer and, you know those boats that have wooden hulls, but you wouldn't know that? They use a technique call rolling and tipping. First you paint on a sealer compatable with your paint. Let it dry for a couple days so it soaks into the presto log....er....pressed board. Then using a 4 inch foam roller you roll out your glossy or water resistant paint. Then go right behind it and tip it. Which means...dip a paint brush (a good one, not a throw away) and brush all the paint one way. Not horizontally (across) but from the back to the front. This goes fast and works well with the least talented doing the rolling. The secret is, if it shows brush marks...do it again.

I always paint my houses cupboards if their interior is pressboard because pressboard loves water. All you sink water pipes are under their and one leak or changed out garbage despossal and warp city. I also do the insides of bathroom sink cabinets for the same reason. I would rather just mop up the water that mop and replace wood that turned into a wet sodden presto log.


alexrussell on Dec 11, 2006:

I agree with Kathryne. Sanding and using spraypaint is the best solution. But use a good primer. The thing about spraypaint is that spraypainting is an art in itself. If you can do it without runs, more power to you.

If you want to use a brush and minimize brush strokes, apply the paint in one direction, and then without re-wetting the brush work the paint over in perpindicular strokes. You do end up wtith a bit of a crosshatch, but it's a lot more subtle than all vertical or horizontal brushstrokes.

designbyphoto on Dec 10, 2006:

A picture of the cabinet door style and cabinet layout would help but I imagine they are flat and not paneled?  My business partner used to make these outdoor carpets by polyurethaning canvas fabric (many coats).  This gave me an idea -what if you took the doors down, wrapped them in fabric (tacking them neatyl on the inside) and then painting them with a satin polyurethane - the paint would act as an adhessive and give you a very durable, washable finish.  Maybe do a test to see how it would work on an interior shelf.  You could also put a wild large print fabric on the inside back of the cabinets. 

Another idea is to loose the upper cabinet doors altogether and frame the melamine boxes and shelves with wood shelf molding. This of course depends on if you like the open look or not. 

Which ever way you go please share pics!

Good luck,

Lynne at Design by Photo


Kathryne Lynn on Dec 09, 2006:

I had a similiar situation with a house I owned about 9 years ago.  What I ended up doing was lightly sanding them, using a primer and then painted them a dark beige.  After doing one door and seeing how it looked I decided that the brush marks made them look tacky, so I stripped the door down and redid it using spray paint.  The spray paint worked much better and had a more finished look to it.  When I was done I took wood wax to help preserve them (though I think laquer would work as well).  

Another thing I have seen people done on old cabinet doors is to lightly sand the entire surface and then use gel stain.   I haven't done it myself but it did not look too hard. 

inkyR on Dec 09, 2006:

Thanks, CasaHartman. I think you're right about the laminate, and sanding is a great idea - not anything I would have thought of. I think the laminate is what I was worried about when painting because I am afraid it would take on this "painted over badly" look. Thanks for the suggestions; I appreciate it!

CasaHartman on Dec 09, 2006:

I know what you mean...  I have some really ugly cabinets myself.  I'm just ignoring them until I redo the entire kitchen.

If the cabinets doors are finished the same way on the inside, I'd try a test there first.  If something works, cool, do the entire kitchen, if not...  well, at least it's not visible to anyone who's not digging through your cabinets.

I'm guessing they're laminated, so you'll likely have to deal with the plastic-like finish.  Sandpaper would be a good start to knock down some of the shine and make it more accepting of a paint finish.  If you use a good primer and take your time you'll probably end up with a passable solution until you're ready to replace them.

Also, think about installing new hardware.

Good luck! 

All comments
Comments RSS