When painting Formica cabinets, sand the surface first so that it is not smooth and the paint or primer has a rougher surface to grip. Also, using a primer or paint that is specifically manufactured for such purposes makes the final coat stick more effectively.
When selecting a primer, it is quicker and more effective to use a shellac primer with an alcohol base manufactured for use over laminate, even though it leaves the kitchen smelling of alcohol for a while. However, once the alcohol evaporates, the primer is ready, and the top paint layer can be applied.
Water-based primers take a very long time to cure completely, even long after they are dry to the touch. When combined with a water-based top coat, the kitchen surface may not be usable for up to two weeks because if the two painted surfaces are not fully cured and one butts against the other, both surfaces may peel off. A shellac primer reduces the curing time by half.
To finish the job even quicker, experts recommend using a paint specifically made for a smooth, clean laminate. It helps if the surface is sanded down, but it is not a requirement. This type of paint is somewhat more difficult to find but worth the time saved if a job needs to be finished quickly.