Comments for Painting melamine MDF shelf

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Jul 22, 2010
Painting Melamine
by: Shawn

Hi Debra,

Sounds like your shelf has a factory finished Melamine coating. Melamine can be very difficult to re-coat. Melamine is hard and a pain to sand, even so I would suggest:

Gently sanding, with an electric palm sander (120 grit paper).

Tack cloth off the dust.

Prime with an alkyd based primer, (not latex) one for sticking to shinny surfaces.

Let dry, tack, lightly sand again (sponge sander).

Re-prime.

Let dry, tack, lightly sand.

Apply your first coat of paint.

Let dry, tack, gently sand one more time.

Roll on your last coat of paint.


I dislike Melamine coatings but in this case it would be the best paint to use. Not only is melamine difficult to sand it's finicky to apply. With that said, melamine has very good adhesion and is one of the most durable paints made.

Be sure to sand between coats. By sanding you'll see how well your product is sticking. Sanding also helps each coat adhere to the next. Don't sand so aggressively that your leaving scratch marks or sanding through what you have already applied. Even so, you'll need to sand hard enough to see if each coat is sticking properly to the previous one.

If your shelf coating isn't melamine to start with, the above system would still be the best to use.

Your roller cover (sleeve) should be cloth and very low nap. Cut in with a quality brush if needed, quickly roll on the primer or paint, then back roll the surface.

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