How to Add Molding to Melamine Cabinets


It's difficult to go into any building these days--residential or commercial--without seeing a lot of melamine cabinetry and shelving. It's cheap, durable and straight with clean lines. Advances in medium density fiberboard (MDF)--the particle board under the melamine sheeting--have only heightened the appeal of melamine cabinets. The problem is that melamine can be a little dry aesthetically. However, it is easy and inexpensive to add a few accent details, and molding is a great place to start.

Things You'll Need

  • Molding
  • Adhesive
  • Clamp
  • Hammer
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Melamine Paint (optional)


  • Choose a molding that accents but doesn't overwhelm your cabinet. Real wood looks great next to melamine, but you may also opt for a unified look by purchasing melamine molding. Either way, choose a strategy and sketch out what you want the finished product to look like.

  • Clean your cabinet thoroughly. Consider using trisodium phosphate (TSP)--a heavy duty multi-purpose cleaner and degreaser--to ensure that all debris, dirt and grease are removed.

  • Cut your trim pieces using your miter box and saw. If you opted to add a rectangular molding to the door faces, for example, bevel each piece at 45 degrees to get a professional looking fit. Finish that with a matching trim at the top of the cabinet facing by mitering those pieces at 45 degrees. To bevel a trim piece, place the flat side down on the bottom of the box. To miter, place the flat side down against the rear fence.

  • Paint the cabinet before attaching your trim pieces, if you like. Begin by scuff sanding the cleaned surface with a 240 grit sandpaper and wipe away the dust. Apply a multi-surface primer or melamine primer and finish with melamine paint in the color of your choice. Follow the paint manufacturer's instructions for application. Some melamine paints call for a natural bristle brush, some work better with a foam brush and still others with a roller.

  • Measure for even placement of your trim accents, then liberally apply adhesive to the pieces. Press the molding into place on your door facings first, then weight them with a large, flat item like a coffee table book. Allow the adhesive to dry completely, then repeat these steps for the crown pieces. A clamp is a helpful way to hold the crown trim in place while the adhesive drys.

Tips & Warnings

  • Create a more dramatic look by outlining the door facings with molding, then create an additional, smaller rectangle centered on each door.
  • Always wear rubber gloves when cleaning with TSP.
  • Use oil-based products in a well ventilated area.

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