3 Reasons Kitchen Cabinets Peel And How To Fix It

A peeling kitchen cabinet is unsightly. We explain why cabinets lose their looks and what you can do about it.

Although kitchen cabinets can start to peel for many different reasons, the top three causes include water damage, a poor job when the paint or veneer was applied, and high humidity in the kitchen.

A well-kept kitchen is a thing of beauty. When your cabinets are peeling, you do not have to take them. We explain what causes the damage and how you can revive your cabinets again.

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The Top 3 Reasons Why Kitchen Cabinets Suffer From Peeling

Do you have sad-looking cabinets? You might be wondering what causes the peeling and whether you can even salvage the situation. The good news is that cabinets can always be saved if the problem is just starting or even when it’s an old problem. 

When cabinets start to curl and peel, the following three culprits are the top 3 reasons why.

  1. High humidity is damaging the integrity of the cabinets.
  2. Whoever did the paint or veneer did a poor job.
  3. Water damage is causing the cabinets to peel.

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High Humidity Can Damage Cabinets

Wooden cabinetry looks fantastic in the kitchen. Unfortunately, the kitchen is also a hotbed for moisture and high humidity, both of which can damage the wood. Mostly, the way cabinets are damaged is when humidity causes them to contract and expand depending on the heat and moisture levels involved. This ultimately leads to cracked and warped wood. It can also cause paint and veneer to peel or become loose.

What Causes High Humidity In My Kitchen?

3 Reasons Kitchen Cabinets Peel And How To Fix It

High humidity in kitchens is caused by several appliances and habits. For instance, we boil the kettle multiple times a day. Most kettles release a lot of steam while nearing boiling point. Other sources include the washer, dryer, ironing the clothes in the kitchen, and boiling pots. If the kitchen is a closed-off space, this can trap the moisture and humidity even more.

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How Can I Get Rid Of High Humidity In My Kitchen?

One of the fastest ways to get rid of high humidity in the kitchen is to encourage air circulation. It is quick, easy, and free! Open all the doors and windows that you can in the kitchen. You can also switch on a ceiling fan or use mobile fans to get the air moving inside the room. You can also consider moving washers and dryers to a laundry room where there are no wooden cabinets with paint or veneer. Another great way to get rid of excess moisture is to invest in a dehumidifier that you can keep in the kitchen. 

The Veneer Or Paint Was Poorly Applied

To successfully add paint or veneer to a wooden kitchen cabinet, the latter must go through a certain degree of preparation beforehand. Failing to do so can cause the veneer or paint to pull loose and peel, sometimes within weeks of being applied to the cabinet’s surface. 

How Do I Prepare a Cabinet For A Coat Of Paint or Veneer?

3 Reasons Kitchen Cabinets Peel And How To Fix It

To prepare a kitchen cabinet for painting, you must remove the old paint completely and give the surface of the wood a good sanding. Once this is done, apply a decent primer before you paint the cabinets. Failure to prepare the cabinets with sanding and a primer can cause the paint to fail to properly bond to the surface. The result? Inevitable peeling in the future.

To prepare a kitchen cabinet for a layer of veneer is similar but with a few extra steps to keep in mind if you want to be successful. Remove the old veneer (if any) and sand the cabinets. Once that is done, make sure that all dents and holes are filled and levelled. Then, make sure that the surface is clean before applying the adhesive and bonding the veneer to the cabinet. The veneer should be completely dry before you attempt to add anything extra like paint or varnish.

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Water Damage Is Causing The Cabinets To Peel

It does not really matter if your kitchen cabinet is painted or finished with a veneer, water damage can be fatal to both. But how does water damage cabinets so severely that they start to peel paint, veneer, and sometimes even larger pieces of wood? Quite simply, water weakens the bonding agents. In the case of paint, it can make the paint lose its grip on the surface and peel. In the case of the veneer, water slowly destroys the glue until it can no longer hold the veneer in place. 

What Causes Water Damage To Kitchen Cabinets?

Some of the most common sources of water damage in the kitchen are water vapour, leaking pipes, high humidity, sweating concrete walls and floors, and ceilings that leak when it rains. 

How Do I Prevent Water Damage To Kitchen Cabinets?

If your kitchen has a history of water damage, prevention can save you a lot of headaches in the future. Even when everything seems under control, make sure that you do the following checks every now and again:

  • Look for signs of leaking pipes, windows, or a ceiling.
  • Check the exterior and interior of your kitchen cabinets for signs of moisture.
  • Use a dehumidifier in the kitchen to get rid of excess moisture in the room. (Here are some of the best mini-dehumidifier reviews).
  • Encourage good air circulation in the room.

How Do I Fix A Peeling Cabinet Damaged By Water Or Humidity?

We previously covered how to fix bad paint or veneering jobs. Now we will cover how to fix a cabinet that is peeling due to major water damage like a pipe leak or a lesser evil like high humidity. 

The first step is to get rid of the water source. There is no point in fixing something when the source is still causing problems. Once you have located the leaking pipe or sweating wall, that needs to be taken care of before you can repair the peeling cabinets. 

These are the top 3 reasons why your kettle is leaking water.

Once that is done, inspect the cabinets to see how damaged they are. If the damage is limited to the peeling paint or veneer, then there is hope. Remove the old paint/veneer and allow the cabinets’ wood to dry out completely before you reapply your chosen decorations. 

But what if the damage is severe and there are signs of rotting? Then it might already be too late. Covering rotting wood with paint or veneer will only worsen the condition of the wood. Get a professional’s opinion on whether there is a way to salvage the cabinets or whether they need to be replaced. 

A Quick Overview On Why Kitchen Cabinets Peel 

  • There are three main causes behind kitchen cabinets losing their paint or veneer.
  • The reasons are high humidity, a bad paint/veneering job, and water damage.
  • Most peeling cabinets can be salvaged by removing the source of the problem and renovating the paint or the veneer.