How to Fix Peeling Cabinets!

Top Shelf DIY
by Top Shelf DIY
4 Materials
3 Days

I've never been brave enough to repaint my kitchen cabinets (they're dark but only a few years old). However, an opportunity recently presented itself when I inherited some free cabinets from a neighbor.

The plastic laminate was peeling in places but the cabinets themselves were in excellent shape. They'd be great for storing power tools and project supplies in the garage. Plus, did I mention they were free?

Here's how they looked on the listing...

And...crickets. None of my neighbors jumped at this offer. Clearly they were destined for greatness in my garage! (The cabinets that is...not my neighbors)

So I loaded three cabinets in my car and started peeling off the veneer. It was easier than I expected.

Once the plastic came off I was left with this particle board surface. I gave them a brief sanding with a 60-grit sandpaper and called it good.

The fronts absorbed primer very easily. Once I had them primed I added 2-3 coats of regular satin latex paint. I let them dry for two days.

The hardest part with these final layers of paint is keeping the finish free of nicks, dents, brush marks, and the occasional tufts of dog hair. I was starting to realize why cabinet painting is tedious. Luckily, I only had four fronts to paint.

I don't have a paint sprayer or any fancy orange "teepees" for keeping the fronts elevated off the ground. Nonetheless, they turned out great!

While the paint was drying I worked on fixing up the hardware by giving them a coat of black paint. I simply sprayed them with black flat paint outside.

I also added some nice trim to the side of the cabinets that were exposed.

To do this, simply rip several pieces of 1/4" plywood to a width of your choosing. Cross-cuts tend to work better with a miter box or hand saw.

Fill in your holes with wood filler and sand everything once dry. After your cabinet fronts have dried add them back to your cabinets. Behold and enjoy organizing your stuff!

As an optional final step, I added a few coats of water based polycrylic to protect the cabinets from damage. It gave them a strange sheen so I'm not sure I would repeat that step if the cabinets were going inside my kitchen.

If you're able to score a bunch of peeling cabinets for free, consider yourself lucky!

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2 of 10 comments
  • Pattie Pattie on May 20, 2022

    I did the same thing with my kitchen cabinets. Great job!

  • Bry Bry on May 20, 2022

    Yes, great job. I spent the covid summer doing the same thing to my kitchen cabinets. Wish I had a sprayer but they turned out really good anyway. It's a big job, that's for sure.