I have a new apartment, but I noticed that my kitchen cabinets are suffering from what I can only call, "peeling". Here's an image to illustrate:

peeling cabinets omg

Why are my cabinets peeling? And, how do I fix this?

  • Probably water damage. The glue weakens and you get this. Jun 7 '12 at 16:11
  • 1
    The cabinets appear to have water damage. Is the kitchen a small space that has high humidity? Think about venting when boiling water,running the dishwasher or any activity that raises the humidity or the repair won't last.
    – mikes
    Jun 8 '12 at 0:29

I'd recommend cleaning it up a bit, making sure it's totally dry and remove all the flakes of particle board that come off as you just rub it. Then treat it with some rotten wood stabilizer and sand the surface once dry. Clean the veneer really well, if you can without damaging it, lightly sand it.

Then apply contact cement to both surfaces and let dry.

Once dry, work from the point where the veneer began to peel towards the end that's totally detached. A j-roller won't be able to get into the tight curves, but perhaps you can use one around the outside edge. Just work it inward, applying lots of force as you press the two together. Go a little bit at a time so that you don't cause wrinkles. Use lots of force as you press down!

This should keep it together quite well.

The thing is, it'll happen to other cabinets and you'll waste a lot of time fixing this problem. Alternatively, you can replace them with solid wood doors (which are expensive) or even replace them with other crappy doors for relatively cheap that will last 5-10 years max. Ikea sells their doors separately, see here: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/categories/departments/kitchen/11479/

  • I actually seriously considered replacing the doors until I realized that I had unusual sizes for most of my doors. :( That was really saddening to realize.
    – Aarthi
    Jun 7 '12 at 18:59
  • The great thing is the doors don't have to be the exact same size! With the right hinge, if it's within a few inches it shouldn't be an issue. What size doors are you working with?
    – kavisiegel
    Jun 7 '12 at 19:06
  • 11.5" x either 16" or 23" or 18" depending! I have a diagram at home I can take a picture of and ask about. :D
    – Aarthi
    Jun 7 '12 at 19:10
  • Hmm, that is pretty tough. Is that 11.5" wide with varying heights, or 11.5" tall with varying widths? If it's the first one, you can get 12x24" cabinet doors and just cut the top off of them to the right height. You'd have to score the veneer before cutting to prevent the veneer from chipping, then coat the exposed wood with oil based paint, but it could work and it could be significantly easier than dealing with the current doors!
    – kavisiegel
    Jun 7 '12 at 19:20
  • 11.5" width (though the ones pictured are 17" wide, arghhhh) and varying heights. All of the top cabinets are the same height, all of the bottom cabinets are the same height. The widths change based on location. It's basically a mess.
    – Aarthi
    Jun 7 '12 at 19:23

That looks like pressboard that has gotten wet. For inexpensive cabinets they make the frame out of cheap pressboard and then glue on a layer of plastic or paper that is painted to look like wood; that's what is pulling away.

You'll want to let the area dry out, and then spread in some wood glue (EDIT: or veneer glue, which may work better). Apply a thin coat of glue between the two and press them together with clamps or a taped-on bit of stick. That's a complex curve you have there, so you may need to make up a weird shape by, e.g., taping a pencil in the 'valley' to distribute the clamping force. You could also try spray-adhesive, but I'd be concerned about overspray, so mask the surrounding area if you try that.

To prevent this from continuing: given this is likely a kitchen, is there a steam source below the cabinet? (e.g. a kettle or crockpot) If so, move it away, and consider installing a kitchen fan to keep drier air circulating.

  • Wood glue, or veneer glue?
    – Tester101
    Jun 7 '12 at 16:18
  • 1
    Duct Tape. It's the universal solution Jun 7 '12 at 16:19
  • Do you have to prepare the surfaces in any way, or can you just spray glue in and clamp it?
    – Tester101
    Jun 7 '12 at 16:25
  • 1
    Tester101, you'd know better than me, but I would just make sure it's dry, and brush in some glue. You could also try some spray adhesive; depending on how intact the pressboard surface is it might even help hold it together. Jun 7 '12 at 16:28
  • 1
    I think you need a competent general contractor to fix it for you. You better call me! lmao Jun 10 '12 at 11:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.