I have builders grade cabinets. They are smooth fronts (sort of modern) they are dark brown and not varnished or stained. I think sort of melamine front....definitely a man made product...so I can't sand and refinish.

They are worn areas around the knobs...from hand oils and probably from cleaning products from contstantly wiping them.

Is there a way to freshen them up? without replacing all of the doors?

I know that I could paint them....but with smooth fronts...they don't have much character....so painting might show imperfections.

I'm pretty handy...so any suggestions are appreciated

thanks Heather

  • Since you aren't sure exactly what the surface is could you post photos?
    – feetwet
    May 4, 2015 at 1:15

3 Answers 3


Instead of painting, another possibility is to resurface with a new material. You could use adhesive sheet melamine, which probably would be best for general wear and tear. If you dig a more modern look, a thin aluminum sheet (or brushed steel) would also fit in with some kitchen types.

In any case, you would need to take the doors off, remove the knobs, and peel the side strips off each door. Both knobs and strips (aka "melamine edging") would need to be replaced with color-coordinated items, once the main panel finish is in place.

It would probably be quite fiddly to get a good result, but not actually hard work at all. Just precision. ;-)



I recently replaced doors and drawers fronts in my kitchen for much the same reason. Given not wanting to replace the doors and the smooth face, I'd suggest painting a base coat, and then attempting to paint some sort of design on each door. I would fail miserably at this, I already know, but you might be able to pull it off - maybe airbrush some vertical stripes or a cross-hatch? The easiest thing to do would be to start by replacing the hardware (hinges, handles) and see if that does enough or if you need a coat of paint. If you get a self-leveling paint, it can help hide any surface imperfections - I used Benjamin Moore's Advance, which goes on and cleans up like a latex paint but finishes and hardens like an oil paint.


Depending on the type of hinges, since they are plain doors, you may be able to flip them (current outside becomes the inside). At that point you should have pretty untouched surfaces to work with and they are likely some sort of uncoated wood (that it sounds like you are used to dealing with).

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