Asked on Sep 02, 2013

How do you remove painted, striped screws off old cabinet doors?

Anna Ibarra
by Anna Ibarra

I am trying to remove the cabinet doors to my tiny laundry room. It's so closed in and thought if I remove doors it might open it up. Problem is that the hinges were painted over and I can't unscrew them all out. some I have successfully, others not so much. Won't budge. Any ideas for removing stripped screws can be so helpful.

I got the top screws off bottom didn't even move. I think they are stripped down.
  34 answers
  • Craftsman makes a bit just for this purpose. Just ask one of the tool people and say you have stripped screws.. I would also score with a sharp razor around the painted hinges too.
    • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Sep 02, 2013
      @The Garden Frog with C Renee these tools work quite well, we have used it a few times.
  • Mickey Mickey on Sep 02, 2013
    Score paint around them and put a rubberband on the tip of the screwdriver ,put in screw hole and hopefully it will turn at least pinterest says it will
  • Zbeth W Zbeth W on Sep 02, 2013
    If you break the paint sealed around the screw with a razor blade and then jam a screwdriver in there by wacking it in hard with a hammer.. you can some times work it out enough to remove it.. Good luck!
  • Christine Christine on Sep 02, 2013
    If the screws are in fact stripped there's an easy out screw extractor. They come in different sizes, so if you have one of screws that you took out take it with you. You can usually buy one at Lowe's, Home Depot, hardware stores, and auto parts stores. Good luck I hope this will help!
  • Anna Ibarra Anna Ibarra on Sep 02, 2013
    Thank you all, I will try going to home place or sears for that tool, thanks Christine on taking screw w/me. I did try using a rubber band to it Mickey, didn't work, maybe rubber band wasn't thick enough. I'll try again.
  • Diana Sue Mendez-Lucio Diana Sue Mendez-Lucio on Sep 04, 2013
    I once pulled it out and filled the hole with caulk,
  • Diana Sue Mendez-Lucio Diana Sue Mendez-Lucio on Sep 04, 2013
    Or spray WD-40 on them.
  • Louis Lieberman Louis Lieberman on Sep 04, 2013
    try using wd40 or any other penetrating oil. also you might just remove the centre pin from the hinge the door comes right off.
  • Teresa A Teresa A on Sep 04, 2013
    Try breaking the paint seal around the screw. Make sure to put pressure on the screw driver when trying to turn it, a screw extractor should work or take a Dremal tool or a file and cut a slit across the top of the screw to make a new slot for a flat screw driver.
    • See 1 previous
    • Diana Sue Mendez-Lucio Diana Sue Mendez-Lucio on Sep 04, 2013
      @Anna Ibarra it will but that's why you fill in with caulk to make a smooth surface.
  • Anna Ibarra Anna Ibarra on Sep 04, 2013
    I'll give that a try, but the whole thing has been painted shut- more like dripped painted as you can somewhat see on the left hinge. I used a rubberband, hand screw, screwdriver, and prying it off. But I will give that a try. Maybe I can return the other bits I bought to use to unscrew it. Save me some $$
    • @Anna Ibarra The tool set did not work from Sears?> it is not an easy thing to do. but there is another way if you have drill bits and a drill. Be careful and wear safety glasses ~that is take a drill bit that will fit in the stripped head and drill it out. You will most likely leave the rest of the screw in but you will be able to grind out the screw head. Just be careful because itsy bitsy metal flakes will fly around. Good luck.
  • Karen Mortimore Karen Mortimore on Sep 04, 2013
    You need to break the seal from the paint... put the screw driver in the slot and hit the end with a hammer, might need to do it more than once to crack the paint around it. Take the door off and do the same thing to the part attached to the cupboard... takes a little patience.
  • Karen Mortimore Karen Mortimore on Sep 04, 2013
  • Karen Mortimore Karen Mortimore on Sep 04, 2013
    you might try a Flat headed screw driver instead of a Phillips head
  • Anna Ibarra Anna Ibarra on Sep 04, 2013
    thank you will do
  • Sabren Sabren on Sep 04, 2013
    I know you will love your new laundry room when you get those doors off. I did that in one of my homes and every one loved it. Painted it white and wallpapered the back of the cabinet with red and white stripes. Put baskets with labels. Was much easier to pull a basket down and get to my cleaning stuff. Good luck.
    • Anna Ibarra Anna Ibarra on Sep 04, 2013
      @Sabren -OMG Sabren, that is the same idea I had. :-) Great think a like. Well it's a small tiny room, nothing much can fit in there other then w/d. Do for the exact same idea you had, functionality is my mission and make it more open and brighter. My doors don't even stay closed and no one here in my family ever closes them. So I want to do what you just said. Do you have pictures I can get inspired by?
  • Teresa A Teresa A on Sep 04, 2013
    Anna, You would need a very small file. I had a triangular shaped file about 4 inches long. You could perhaps reach the top of the screw by opening the door and extend the file in the opening between the cabinet door and the hinge. The top of the screw may be more reachable. You may only be able to place the file in and draw it back a couple times to make a channel, not necessarily sawing back and forth with the file due to the constricted space. It doesn't take much, the metal is soft. If you have a Dremal tool with a cutting disc a new slot could be cut across the top of the screw and you could use a straight blade screw driver to back the screw out. Cutting or filing across the screw head won't affect the wood. I have done this with a small triangular file; my son has used a Dremal. I think paint hardens down in the treads making the the Philips head strip out on the top. It is a pain in the neck. Good luck.
  • Terri Johnson Terri Johnson on Sep 05, 2013
    Take an utility Knife to cut paint around screw and then using a very small drill bit, drill a hole in the center of the screw. Just enough to make it deeper so you can remove with screwdriver.You will need to put pressure on the screwdriver to get the screw to move.
  • Amy Amy on Sep 06, 2013
    Here are a few tips that have worked for me: Before doing any method - definitely run a utility knife around the screw heads. Then insert a screwdriver straight into each screw head and tap the end of the handle a couple of times with a hammer to loosen it. (Don't hit too hard, the old paint is effectively adhering the screw to the hinge, so the screws will loosen easier if the "seal" is broken.) 1 - use a power impact driver if you have or can borrow one. 2 - a square drive bit will often work to loosen stripped/rounded Phillips head screws. 3 - use a screw extractor bit - ez out, etc. (special bits designed for removing stripped screws). Definitely don't try to reuse the screws! Good luck!
  • Anna Ibarra Anna Ibarra on Sep 11, 2013
    I haven't attempted this yet, I step aside from it for now- making me frustrated and step away for now. But glad I did cause I've gotten some great feedback. I have 16 screws to undo and I want to see which methods work best or yet fastest ;-) . Let you know.
  • Use the Dremal tool with a small grinder cutter on it. You can cut a grove and use a regular screw driver to remove the screws. So this carefully or you risk cutting into the hinge. Then use the tip of a very sharp knife to cut into the paint around the head of the screw so it will turn. If you want to use the hinges again, simply place them into a small container of liquid paint remover over night then remove and wash them off with running water under the laundry tub faucet.
  • Anna Ibarra Anna Ibarra on Sep 17, 2013
    Ok I finally did it and I tried the ole hard work and elbow grease before I use the store bought tools. I wanted to see if I really needed them, since I am a beginner in this kind of thing,etc I wanted to see if a beginner could actually do this compare to some of your experienced talents out there. And I have to report that I did it with your helpful comments. I use a utiltiy knife, couple of other tools, that I don't know what the names are ;-). Yes, it was a bit tough, and it was hard since door were almost against the wall, but I scraped the paint as much as I can, drilled in screw, that didn't help me much, then the good ole hand screw was a bit more control for me, and they came out pretty easy, after scraping off the paint, etc. Many Thanks to you all. Here's my pics
  • Judy Parkey Judy Parkey on Feb 21, 2014
    I want to thank you for asking this question. I needed the help!
  • Barbara Valenti Barbara Valenti on Sep 15, 2014
    For future use, there is a small kit I think at Lowes that will rework any old striped screw from anything. Check it out. May help solve a problem.
  • CAD girl CAD girl on Oct 18, 2014
    I thank you for asking about this, too. I also have to remove the hinges from some old cabinets that have been painted over numerous times. I tried to use a small Philips head screwdriver, and that didn't work - stripped the head of the screw. So after reading this (and a few other places) I took a narrow flat-head screwdriver, fitted it into the "x" on the screw head, then tapped it with a hammer, to seat it firmly. I leaned into the screwdriver as hard as I could and voila! It turned and I was able to remove all the screws. It took a little elbow grease, but I didn't need any fancy equipment.
  • Robin Robin on Oct 20, 2014
    Place a thick rubber band on the head of the screw. Then use screwdriver to unscrew.
  • Howard Mattix Howard Mattix on Jan 09, 2015
    hank you everyone for the tips, I'm going to put them in practice.and hope for the best.
  • Anna Ibarra Anna Ibarra on Jan 19, 2015
    All this was a great tips, I did as some of you posted and it work very well. Thank you all as well.
  • Kristina Ponath-Graham Kristina Ponath-Graham on Jan 26, 2015
    Two ways that work great one is a heat gun other is a chemical zep makes for removing wax off of floor I get it at Home Depot I use it to remove paint from a lot of stuff just fill a bowl undiluted drop hinges in and walk away for a few hours or over night depending how much paint is on them then just rinse them off if any is left use a wire brush to get in creases
  • Susan Susan on Apr 17, 2015
    I have had success taking my hack saw and cutting down the center of the screw, thereby making it a flat head screw instead of whatever the original one is. Score around the edge to break the paint seal and unscrew. Good luck !
  • Cindy Cindy on Jun 01, 2016
    You can use a dremel with a cutting wheel and cut a straight line across the head of the screw. That will give you a new flat head groove to unscrew it. With a dremel you can cut only the screw, a hack saw is so long you run the risk of cutting the wood around it also.
  • Jessika Lee Lee Jessika Lee Lee on Jul 21, 2016
    Paint stripper, then flat head screw driver and belt it with a hammer. If that doesn't work you'll need to use a dremmel tool.
  • boil in equal parts water & white vinegar for 20 min then rinse with abrasive scrubber, comes right off. I just did this with super gunky hinges then painted them black!

  • Deb K Deb K on Oct 03, 2023

    Hi Anna, hope this helps you out. It's a great video instruction.