Painting Arborite or Formica is one of those jobs that one would think was an impossible task.

There's not much that can't be coated in fact, it all comes down to preparation and using the proper tools and products for the project at hand. Of course when painting Arborite or Formica for that matter, it requires the best procedures, tools and materials for the job at hand.

Coating hard to paint surfaces can be done in three ways you'll need to choose what works best for your situation. Either will take time as the products used can require a substantial waiting period between coats.

Before painting Arborite or formica, tape, mask and cover everything that you don't want primer, paint or dust on. Including, the back-splash, floors, stove, sink, cabinets etc.

If your coating kitchen cabinets you can use this page for the coating process. Just be sure to finish reading here first and implement everything pertaining to painting Arborite while doing your kitchen cabinets project.

  1. First fill any holes or groves in the surface with a top quality filler, (I like Dap's "Dry Dex"). Sand level, let dry and fill again if needed.

  2. Sand your Arborite or Formica using an electric palm sander and 120 grit sand paper. You want to dull the surface a bit and give your primer some microscopic groves to latch onto. Be sure to not make scratch or swirl marks in the surface when sanding. Sanding needs to be smooth and even. Doing a quick sanding test first is a good idea. If you do get un-sightly scratching changing to a lower grit sand paper should fix the problem.

  3. Now wipe your sanded surface down with TSP. Be sure to follow the label on your specific TSP packaging regarding dilution and rinsing of the surface being painted etc.

  4. Once your counter top is dry, coat it with an oil based (alkyd) primer. Your primer needs to be a top of the line product and recommended for plastic surfaces.

  5. After your primer is dry refill groves and holes if needed, then sponge sand the entire area by hand. Tack cloth off the dust, re-prime the counter top and finally follow up with one more sanding. Be careful not to sand through your primer, if you do, spot prime as needed, let dry and sand again. Use a less aggressive sandpaper if you have to. With that said, your primer should not come off easily when you do sand it. Be sure to prep properly and use the correct products otherwise you may end up with a mess on your hands.

  6. Your now ready to start painting Arborite or Aormica. Roll on (or spray) at least two coats of the best oil based paint you can buy. If your not spraying paint on use the widest speed or quick (Whizz) roller (6" or so) you can find. A velour short nap roller cover (sleeve) is recommended. A sponge cover is Ok, but I find that the ultra short haired cloth type sleeves work much better. Remember to sponge sand between coats of paint and use quality products that are recommended for the job at hand.

Now that your done painting Arborite or Formica surfaces take extra care with your newly coated areas. Paint can take weeks to cure, the nicer you are to it in the first little while, the longer it will last.


Applying epoxy to your Formica is the second way for you to get the job done. Which by the way is the product that I would use myself. Keep in mind though, that epoxy's require you to follow all label instructions on the can to a tee. Including prep and application instructions, along with the best products or tools to use. Epoxy's are more difficult to work with and smell horrible but do have much better durability in the long run.

Your third option is to hire a Pro to do the work for you. Each Professional Painter has their own preferred way of doing things. So, be sure to get at least three quotes along with references in relationship to the exact job being done.

Once your finished, realize that a re-coated surfaces will never be as good as the original. Another thing to consider is you won't be able to place hot items onto your painted Formica or Arborite without causing damage. Touch ups could be required as time goes by to, especially along the front edges of a countertop or at the corners. Gluing on protective edging like that which is made by Schluter ( 90 ° angled metal), would help, along with adding a very thin bead of clear silicone (if needed) to the edge of the Schluting itself. Siliconing would secure the metal and make it easier for you to wash down the countertop.

Keep in mind to that, if your Formica has a textured feel too it, you will need to use a sponge sander as oppose to the electric palm sander stated in step number 3.

Last but not least buy your products from a retailer that specializes in selling paint. You will find that paint store advice regarding preparation, application, tools and materials, tends to be far better than the help you get from your local home improvement centre.

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