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I have an old cabinet that is made from engineered wood with a laminate finish that resembles wood, but is definitely not hardwood. I am not sure what the finish is called but it is paper thin and not made of any real wood. See attached photo. From what I can tell this kind of fake finish is extremely common in modern cabinetry and furniture.

The laminate finish has become damaged and worn out over time. Is it possible to redo this laminate finish myself so that it matches the existing fake wood tone as closely as possible? If so, what is the product I am looking for called?

(Contact paper is a last ditch solution, but I would like to actually redo the finish if possible.)

Edit: The linked question is about water damage, and seems to have nothing to do with the question I am asking here (note also that there is no water damage in my case). I am asking specifically about redo-ing the finish, and how to identify and use the product that would be needed to re-finish this. I don’t see this answered in the linked question. Prior to my question being closed, I was close to getting an answer to my question.

enter image description here

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  • Isn't this a bottom panel? Any chance that its opposite side is finished the same way and can be used by simply turning it upside down (redoing any fasteners as necessary, of course)? Or, if the finish is not exactly the same, but maybe a better surface that can be used instead of this compromised one as a foundation for a new finish?
    – Gábor
    Aug 27, 2023 at 15:44
  • @Gábor With this kind of faux-wood cabinetry build, I'd say the chances of the underside having the same finish — or any finish — are virtually nil. Like any hidden surface (even the back and side edges of the shelves, usually!), it's most likely the completely-unfinished bare particleboard.
    – FeRD
    Aug 30, 2023 at 10:43

4 Answers 4

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You are giving it to much fancy words. That is not engineered wood, just plain particle board (cheap). It is not covered by wood veneer. –

To do it looking great, you would buy some wood veneer and glue it on to. Guaranteed it will not partially peel off ever. –

Also, forget matching, just do the whole surface. –

If you are just locking for quick repair, be aware that the paint will not cover the existing defects. You will still see them afterward. The only way to avoid that the whole surface has to be sanded smooth.

Now go to a paint store and ask.

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  • Sorry for any confusion: I would like to use the same finish, which is not made of wood, so I don’t think a wood veneer is the right thing. And I plan to refinish the entire surface, but it still has to match since there are other finished surfaces not pictured. (Sorry if I mixed up the terminology, I have always considered particle board a type of engineered wood.)
    – user522
    Aug 26, 2023 at 21:40
  • @user522 What you have as a finish now looks almost like contact paper. Particle board is a very cheap version of engineered wood, but don't tell the engineer wood makers that. Maybe do the other surfaces also if they are the same, to match.
    – crip659
    Aug 26, 2023 at 22:12
  • Particle board is engineered wood, a prime example of it. Even Wikipedia says so. :-)
    – Gábor
    Aug 27, 2023 at 15:41
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Wood-grain laminate sheets are widely available. They are commonly used for countertops. Formica® and Wilsonart® are two major US brands, no endorsement implied. They also come in many other patterns and colors...

That type of product is usually installed with contact cement - follow the directions very carefully as it works differently than most people expect (you apply to both surfaces, let dry completely, keep them separated while lining the laminate up, then remove the separators to bring the surfaces into contact, where they will grab immediately, for most types.)

Depending on the exact material you have, commonly available sheets (pretty much any home center, or large orange or blue box store has them or can order them in your chosen pattern) may be somewhat thicker than some of the "more than contact paper, but less than countertop" laminates you'll find on some mass-produced furniture. But countertop thickness is what you can easily find or get, IME. It wears quite well if carefully installed.

For the type of damage you show, it may be more economical to replace the top, rather than remove the laminate remaining and get the apparently damaged particle board flat to receive new laminate. You can possibly find a new pre-laminated countertop in a similar pattern.

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That cabinet counter top must be replaced.

The original top surface has worn or been damaged and the particle board is now compromised. The wood particles are coming apart and will be an issue that will be apparent when any repair is done. An attempt to glue a new surface over the degraded wood, will fail. Attempts to fill the area will result in the same and be noticeable as a dip or a bump. Anything done to save this is a hack.

If you want a counter that is anything other than representing a poor repair, you need to replace it.

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    IS that a countertop? It looked to me like it's possibly the inside floor of the cabinet.
    – FeRD
    Aug 27, 2023 at 6:54
  • @FeRD, I could not tell...and it's a moot point. Repairing that is like repairing a wet Kleenex.
    – RMDman
    Aug 27, 2023 at 13:44
  • I would guess its the floor of a cupboard and someone has put slightly leaky/wet bottles of cleaner or similar here.. The quick fix is some wood-grain contact paper, or some opaque plastic trays for catching the moisture before it hits the chipboard.
    – Criggie
    Aug 28, 2023 at 2:56
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Redo the finish? Not on your life.

But if I'm right, and that is indeed the cabinet floor, you are allowed to just completely replace it with Real Wood™. Get a few boards, cut to fit, and lay them side-by-side right on top of the shitty original floor. Screw down into the framing, and pretend this never happened.

If raising the cabinet floor by 1" won't cause huge problems (bumping up against pipes, or interfering with drawer/door motion), then that's probably what I'd do, if I really wanted to keep the cabinet.

(Replacing the whole cabinet is also an option. Not a cheap one, but not really that much more expensive than any worthwhile repair you could do.)

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  • Can you explain why it would be so difficult to redo the finish? (Sadly real wood (TM) is not an option due to interference from other parts of the cabinet.)
    – user522
    Aug 27, 2023 at 13:46
  • Because whatever you try to glue there as a new finish won't really stick to it. The bulk of the board is not wood but a mixture of ground wood particles and resin. This is what most furniture is made from nowadays. It's usually acceptable for its normal purpose but in your case, the compromised upper layer was removed, allowing moisture, dirt and whatever else to enter the board.
    – Gábor
    Aug 27, 2023 at 15:36
  • And in your case, this is not that important any more. You have to find the finish that matches your existing finish, that's the important part. When you already have it, replacing the full board will probably be a negligible price difference to trying to prep the existing one, removing the rest of the old finish, replacing possibly deteriorated parts of the substrate and gluing the new finish. Why not buy a full board with your new finish and replace the whole? Provided you can find a finish that gives you good enough a match in the first place.
    – Gábor
    Aug 27, 2023 at 15:37
  • Maybe a dumb question: If the problem is that the glue won’t stick to particle board / resin / etc, how did they glue on the laminate in the first place?
    – user522
    Aug 28, 2023 at 1:57
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    another option - add self-closing springs to the cabinet doors so it can't be seen so much.
    – Criggie
    Aug 28, 2023 at 2:58

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