Some tools needed to refinish Formica cabinets include a screwdriver, Formica cleaner, sandpaper, primer, and paintbrushes or rollers. An oil-based primer is the best choice because it helps the paint stick to the Formica. Choose a color to paint over the Formica surface, and use painter's tape to keep the paint job neat.
First, use the screwdriver to remove the cabinet doors, handles and other hardware. Prepare the Formica surface for painting by roughening it with sandpaper or an electric sander. Once the Formica has a rough appearance, wash it clean with the Formica cleaner and a damp rag to prepare it for priming. Paint it with one coat of primer. If the Formica color is dark, you may need to apply a second coat to cover it thoroughly.
After the primer dries, paint the cabinets with a latex-based paint. Use a paint roller to eliminate drip marks. If these marks occur, gently rub them away with sandpaper to maintain a smooth surface. After the first coat of paint dries, go over it with another coat until you achieve the desired appearance. When painting drawers, follow the same steps, but avoid painting the slides or the backs of the drawers. This allows them to fit properly in place when they are finished.
After completing the cabinet doors and drawers, tape off the cabinet frames to avoid getting paint on other kitchen surfaces. Follow the same steps as you did with the cabinet doors. When the cabinet frames are dry, reattach the doors and drawers. Finally, use the screwdriver to put all cabinet hardware back in place.