Front paneling on kitchen cabinets coming loose?


I'm stumped finding an answer online, so I've turned here with hopes someone might have an answer!

We thought these were ash cabinets (per the original home description provided by the builder). My cats have been very interested in this one particular cabinet door and it looks like they may have pulled the front face off the cabinet, or have just added to the damage. I'm not sure if these are original or if there was some updating in the 56 years of the life of the house. The original owner from 1964-2020 has passed away. No one to get answers from.

Is there any way to tell what type of cabinets these are? Can the face be pulled off all of them? Not sure if it's a weakness on just this one cabinet. Not close to any water source that could have caused the damage. It appears that there is a crease happening in that front panel from the cats pulling at it. I'm not a fan of the wood panel appearance on the faces of the cabinet, so I wouldn't be sad if it could come off.

So my questions are:

How the heck do I describe what is happening here??

Is there a way to tell what type of wood these cabinets are?

Should I glue it back on or should I remove it?

Any online searches take me straight to veneer or thermafoil, which are both incorrect assumptions Google!


q front paneling on kitchen cabinets coming loose
q front paneling on kitchen cabinets coming loose
  9 answers
  • GrandmasHouseDIY GrandmasHouseDIY on Mar 31, 2021

    Hi Sara, I hope another Hometalker on here can give you the proper name for those cabinets because I also am not exactly sure what they're exactly called.

    YES> you can absolutely take the panel front off of all of them but I would hesitate unless you are absolutely certain its coming pretty easily off the fronts of all of your cabinet doors.

    This is basically a glued on veneer and they can be a real labor to get off completely. In my experience the veneer can start coming a part and leaving pieces behind with the glue which then would need to be totally sanded smooth. Totally doable! Just can be a major labor of love. When it comes to a whole kitchen that could be opening up a pretty big can of worms. However, it would give you a smooth front which you could sand down, maybe even stain and definitely paint which would be a big modern upgrade!

  • on Mar 31, 2021

    I think you can just glue that panel back on. Are you keeping the cupboards long term?

    • See 1 previous
    • Shelley McGarr Shelley McGarr on Apr 02, 2021

      Hi, peeps r suggesting gluing the wood back on but rn't saying wot 2 use...try No More Nails, it comes in tubes or mastic tubes where u need a mastic gun to apply it, saying that it looks 2 b a small area so I'd go 4 a's surprising how far it goes. Also take the door off the cabinet 2 glue etc. & put a clamp/heavy books on top until the N.M.N. has set.

      As for the wrinkling on the door itself, it sound like it's a veneer which if u sand with a med/fine sandpaper...very gently & don't go too deep as u could end up going thro' the veneer, if u use a sander try to vacuum up the sawdust & use it with a good wood glue, mixed 2gether to fill in some of the bigger cracks, it will be nearer the colour of the rest of ur doors & easier to paint/stain over. If the wrinkling is really bad, u could try to plain & or sand the veneer off, but ask some1 who works with wood 4 advice as to colours to use etc., or put a veneer on and instead of staining it u could paint all the cupboards & drawers 2 unify & that way u can choose wot colour u want until u change ur kitchen.

      Soz this is so long winded😹, mayb next time it'll b a book! soz! anyhow, hope this helps in some form. G.L.🍀x

  • William William on Mar 31, 2021

    That is a built up panel door. Similar to veneer. Instead of having a bunch of doors with different front panel patterns, the manufacturer had maybe ten or so doors with different routed profiles, which was more cost effective. Homebuyers would choose the door style they liked and the builder would make them gluing a front panel design the buyers chose. You can glue the panel back or remove it. Of course the door substrate may not be the best quality. It does not look like ash. The front panel does look like ash to me but stained dark. I assume the cabinet frame is also ash. Ash is a light tone hardwood with a grain looks almost like pine or fir. Baseball bats are basically made from ash. A lot of Scandinavian design furniture is made from ash.

  • Maura White Maura White on Mar 31, 2021

    You can totally just glue that back on. If you didn't like the front, I'd vote to just get new doors and not bother trying to pull the fronts off of all of the doors because you may not have an easy time pulling it off.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Apr 01, 2021


    Does look as if this front ha been applied to to originals cabinet front, so you could stick it back or leave it to see if more come loose or prize the other fronts off. Maybe a little warmth might help the glue soften. (Hairdryer)? Good luck !

  • It's definitely thicker than veneer. I would only remove it if all the other cabinets have this piece loose too. Glue it back on and clamp it until the glue dries.

  • If you can carefully pry the whole thing off, do a light sanding on both sides and apply contact cement to glue it back on. If you can't get it off without breaking it, no problem, just try to clean it up a bit in there and stick together with the contact cement.

  • Mogie Mogie on Apr 01, 2021

    A hot glue gun can do wonders. You might want to use something to hold this in place while the glue dries for a solid hold or result.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Apr 01, 2021

    It appears that you could probably remove it with some work. I would take the door off and go to a hardware store or wood shop to have them look at it. From this photo, it looks like some type of weaved material.