Back Button

How to Add Molding to Melamine Cabinets

Ian Kenney

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.


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.