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Melamine Kitchen Cabinets

Melamine is your retro kitchen cabinet choice. It is the pride of the mid-century rise of engineered woods and synthetic veneers. Like thermofoil or laminate, melamine is most recognized for its resistance to scratches, moisture, and chemicals. It consists of a resin material adhered to particle board, medium density fiberboard (MDF) or other pressed wood product.

About Melamine

Important for frameless cabinets, melamine thrives on its affordability and smooth, uniform surface. Therefore you’ll find it most in retro kitchens inspired by the 1950s, when melamine first rose to prominence in Euro-style kitchens. It is available in some traditional styles, usually white or ivory cabinets, as well as faux wood grain. The scope of styles available depends on the manufacturer.

Tan melamine kitchen cabinetsLike other resin veneers, the quality of melamine products depends largely on the manufacturer. So it is vital that some research be done, and customer reviews read if possible, before purchase. Another valuable resource is your remodeling contractor, who will have invaluable advice on manufacturers, as well as the best cabinet material for your kitchen.

Another plus for melamine is its ability to be painted. Although not just any paint will work; specialized paints are available and designed specifically to work with the smooth melamine surface. Melamine is tough and easy to clean, although not impervious to damage.

Caring for Melamine

Melamine provides a tough barrier to moisture, heat and filth, but you must be somewhat careful not to break that barrier. Once water or moisture is allowed beneath the melamine coating, the problems begin. Particle board, MDF, and some other engineered wood products are very susceptibleWhite melamine kitchen cabinets to water damage. Water penetration will cause the cabinets or drawers to swell and even crumble. Melamine most often chips at corners or along edges.

Furthermore, particle board and MDF tend to be heavy compared to other wood products. So proper support is essential to healthy melamine kitchen cabinets. Incorrect support, including door hinges, will result in sagging, which in turn can lead to a number of other issues, including chipping and moisture damage. Engineered wood products also tend not to hold screws and other fasteners as well as solid wood.

Your licensed kitchen cabinet installer should be more than aware of the pros and cons of melamine cabinets. So be sure to have a talk with him or her prior to installation and even prior to purchasing the cabinets. Melamine kitchen cabinets are available from a number of retailers and manufacturers. Always check the manufacturer’s warranty before buying any product, but especially those utilizing melamine—much of the strength and longevity of your new cabinets depends on how well they were put together.

Melamine is your premier retro kitchen cabinet choice. It is the pride of the mid-century rise of engineered woods and synthetic veneers. Like thermofoil or laminate, melamine is most recognized for its resistance to scratches, moisture and chemicals. It consists of a resin material adhered to particle board, medium density fiberboard (MDF) or other pressed wood product. Here are the facts so you can decide if it’s right for your kitchen.

Costs

Because melamine is a synthetic material, it costs significantly less than solid wood cabinetry. The total cost will depend on the size of the job, manufacturer and the price of labor (contact a professional in your area for exact cost estimates). Do your research. Don’t choose your cabinets based solely on who’s offering the lowest price—it’ll only lead to problems down the road.

Pros

The surface can be painted to match any design scheme.

Resistant to scratches, moisture, heat and damage from chemicals.

Melamine is one of the most affordable cabinet choices on the market.

Cons

Once water or moisture penetrates the cabinet surface, resulting problems can be hard (and costly) to fix.

Melamine most often chips at corners or along edges.

Heavier than wood products, melamine must have significant support or sagging can occur.

Durability

While melamine is created with a protective barrier to keep it looking new, once that layer is broken, extensive damage is usually the result. It’s important to make sure that water and moisture are not allowed underneath the surface.

Maintenance

Unlike many other cabinet materials, melamine is extremely easy to clean.

  1. Wipe the cabinets down with a soft damp cloth.
  2. Use a non-abrasive household cleaner or a mixture of dish detergent and warm water to remove tougher stains. Afterwards, wipe with water and dry with a cloth or paper towel.

Common Questions and Answers

What’s the paint type for melamine cabinets?

This one’s easy—use melamine paint. It’s an oil-based paint available in a variety of colors and perfect for painting everything from laminates to plastic and fiberglass.

History

You'll find it most often in retro kitchens inspired by the 1950s, when melamine first rose to prominence in Euro-style kitchens.

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