White Cabinets- Melamine versus Alternatives

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Forum topic by Logan Windram posted 01-31-2018 09:17 PM 2162 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Logan Windram

347 posts in 3801 days

01-31-2018 09:17 PM

I have a project that is designed and ready to go, client wants white cabinets. Has anybody worked in Melamine with that fiberboard core? I have never used the stuff, but it is relatively inexpensive and solves my white problem (im not buying this at Home Depot, so I hope its better quality)... but I I’m concerned about how to join that stuff, anybody have an suggestions on the best way? Anybody know if any projects that are pre-finsihed white but have a better quality interior, i.e. combination core?

This project is big enough that ideally I’d spray white lacquer on it… but I can’t spray at this point, and rattle cans might work its just a lot of surface and time involved.

Thoughts appreciated. Thank you!


9 replies so far

View GR8HUNTER's profile


9324 posts in 2051 days

#1 posted 01-31-2018 09:49 PM

we had to cut this material 1 time ….... using a special blade and running panel saw backwards just to score it …so it didn’t chip any of the melamine …was the worst job i ever did …you can get white edge banding … GOOD LUCK :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

View Loren's profile


11374 posts in 4987 days

#2 posted 01-31-2018 11:11 PM

Melamine is a terrific material in many ways.
If you are not prepared to deal with its
weaknesses working with it can turn into
a nightmare.

In frameless cabinetry melamine is often joined
with wood dowels or confirmat type screws.
Biscuits and screws can work as well. There
is glue available which sticks to melamine,
which you might want to use if you go with
dado joints to increase the area glued.

Are they to be face frame or frameless cabinets?

View Carloz's profile


1147 posts in 1930 days

#3 posted 02-01-2018 02:30 AM

Check with your client. White color is one thing but I definitely would not want melamine cabinets in my kitchen.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


10648 posts in 3748 days

#4 posted 02-01-2018 05:47 AM

I am thinking Formica, and of course adding to the overall cost of the project. Melamine is okay, but once scratched it cannot be repaired without an obvious scar. (If someone knows a trick I am all ears though). It reacts to water in not very good ways. Formica is more durable but takes time to plan the cuts and get the edges to look a certain way. Clean up is much easier and it is more forgiving in being scratched. By no means the BEST option but with the demand for this white color certainly much better than melamine.

My 2 cents worth anyway.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Gilley23's profile


489 posts in 1721 days

#5 posted 02-01-2018 10:56 AM

Check with your client. White color is one thing but I definitely would not want melamine cabinets in my kitchen.

- Carloz

My thoughts as well. They’re not going to look like normal painted cabinets.

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 2238 days

#6 posted 02-01-2018 01:57 PM

I have built many a cabinet with melamine as the interior and the exterior painted. I have no problems using it myself. The melamine I use comes on an industrial core particle board.
I don’t care so much for the white, but they have many woodgrains that are also available.

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

347 posts in 3801 days

#7 posted 02-01-2018 02:34 PM

Thanks for the replies gents. This is actually a custom bookcase/ file storage/ multi-use piece that is going in an office, so no moisture exposure that I can foresee. I did the drawer fronts of my wife’s office in white lacquer over oak and they look incredible. I have to think at this point I’ll build in the price of rattle cans of lacquer and just spray all the pieces prior to assembly… I like the to flexibility to knock down the sheen later if needed and make repairs to the surface pretty easy. It would just be nice to spray this in a booth, but its not a hurdle that can’t be overcome.

I’ve thought about painting them, I just never get a desirable finish with paint/ top coat- anybody have a tried and true process that they have had success with?

View waho6o9's profile


9135 posts in 3916 days

#8 posted 02-01-2018 03:36 PM

Congrats on your commission.

I’d use MDO with high quality primer and paint and let your work speak for itself.

Practice on scrap, have the customer sign off on the finish etc… and you’ll be fine.

Best of luck.

Medium Density Overlay (MDO) and High Density Overlay (HDO) Plywood (also called signboard) are engineered wood panels, originally designed for sign makers. However, they are gaining popularity for other purposes. Cabinetmakers are beginning to see the value of these engineered woods and use them.

View Robert's profile


4846 posts in 2819 days

#9 posted 02-01-2018 04:28 PM

You know, people poo poo melamine cabs all the time. I did too, until I started using it.

BTW, for those poo-poo’ers out there I can tell you from experience melamine cabinets are perfectly fine for a kitchen. I’ve built a lot of them with absolutely no problems (Yes even bottom sink units ooooooooh). My own sink unit has gotten wet several times over 10 years for various reasons with no issues. The white, easily cleaned interiors are a definite selling point with many homeowners.

Painting adds a LOT of time to a project and is something I would reconsider. In this application I would make the doors laminate over particle board. Lots of colors/patterns to choose from. The edge banding is a snap. You don’t need an expensive banding machine. I do mine with a clothes iron, a cutter and file. Be careful of putting a slight bevel on the edges or when you butt the cabs together there will be a gap.

Other suggestions:

1. Use a double sided melamine blade.

2. Drill all your 32mm shelf pin holes before assembly.

3. Use Confirmat screws.

4. Buy your materials from a professional distributor. The commercial particle board and melamine is way different than other stuff you see. The stuff at HD is junk.

5. I buy all my hardware from WW Hardware.

This is a perfect application for frameless cabinets. I built virtually all my cabinets now frameless. I strongly recommend Danny Proulx’s book. Lots of very practical info there.

Sum it up: I would go with 3/4 white melamine for the boxes & laminate over PB for doors. Edge band the melamine in same laminate as doors for a better look.

Hope this helps good luck on your commission!

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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