Asked on May 22, 2013

My cabinets are pressed wood, swollen from water, how do I repair.

by Claudiasage
I want to paint them but don't know where tostart or if it is possible to sand them smoothe enough to paint.
  15 answers
  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on May 22, 2013
    Pressed wood when it swells due to water are extremely hard to "Fix".
  • Claudiasage Claudiasage on May 23, 2013
    Can they be fixed??
    • Rosemarie Randolph Rosemarie Randolph on Apr 15, 2015
      @ I don't know how bad your doors were, just saw that the post was from 2 years ago; I'll add my comment anyway. My cabinet doors were wearing badly, especially the tops of the bottom cabinet doors and the brown was gone! Paint, contact paper, markers, been there, tried all of it, and didn't work. Just looked worse. Final resort...putting away grown grandson's 'stuff', which included....are you ready?....brown shoe polish! rubbed it on, buffed and worked like a charm. Cabinets look like new.
  • Janet B Janet B on May 23, 2013
    Not really. Is it just the doors that are swollen? If the boxes are ok, you can get replacement doors made. If that's not in the budget, take the doors off and live with the open cabinets. If the boxes are damaged . . . you have problems.
  • Claudiasage Claudiasage on May 23, 2013
    Primarily the doors, Have considered removing the doors and having open cabinets.
  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on May 23, 2013
    @ That would be the best way to go! You could even put up some paper in the cabs and make them look decorative! xo
  • Kat Tellez Kat Tellez on May 24, 2013
    There is no way to fix pressed wood. Water damage causes the fibers to swell and weakens the wood considerably. It will continue to get worse as it absorbs moisture from the air. If it's just the doors, I would definitely remove them. If the boxes have only small spots of damage (especially on the edges and non load bearing spots) you may be able to sand the damaged areas and seal them with wood glue or latex paint, but it will only be a cosmetic repair. The spots will be weaker than the rest of the wood, and if not properly sealed may continue to 'puff up' and rot.
  • Winnie Nichols Winnie Nichols on May 24, 2013
    I tend to disagree with the "no help in repairing". Mine were swollen to some extent. I sanded them smooth, then I used a primer type paint next step, I used a a semi-gloss latex, not enamel, but a water type base washable paint, not oil based. It took about 4 coats for what I done but they are gorgeious . I wash/wipe down my cabinets everyday with a vinegar/water solution and I have no problem. Hey, I even painted my refrigerators/freezers. So I say with a little work , yes mobile home cabinets can be redone. We done a rental mobile kitchen also.
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  • Doris Today Doris Today on May 24, 2013
    Winnie Nichols, what type of sandpaper did you use? hand or powered sander? I have same problem. It is mainly on the edges that are bad, I'll have to try this a couple doors that I'm willing to live with open shelving if it doesn't work. Haven't priced new doors but can only suspect that they would have to be custom made ,like most mobile home repairs. I don't think big box stores will have the unique sizes. Oh getting excited what a great summer project!!!!!
    • See 1 previous
    • Rick Leland Rick Leland on Apr 18, 2016
      @Rebecca Galbraith-Rankins You can sand to smooth it out, then I mixed Elmer's wood glue and water to make a paste and applied it over the raised and rough area. Once dry, you can sand this and reapply the paste if needed. When smooth, it can be primed and painted. Mine came out very nice.
  • Pamela Smith Pamela Smith on May 24, 2013
    Like to know what kind of sandpaper please
  • Renata Renata on Jan 06, 2015
    On sanding...Use 100 grit to start, then use 120, then your 220.. The higher the # the finer the grit. If you start at 220 you will be sanding for weeks to get it right. Also make sure your doors or what ever you are sanding is completely dry. Then use 2 thin coats of primer. I use the spray cans. Then paint 2 thin coats of paint of your color choice. Making sure each coat is totally dry before applying second coat. Then you should spray with a lacquer . Walmart has spray cans of this in their paint department.
  • Dusty Dusty on Aug 12, 2016
    Can I put a coat of vanish on compressed wood doors ?
  • SJ SJ on Jun 19, 2017

    Very good ideas on this forum! I had the same problem, the pressed wood cabinets peeling and even pitting around the edges that got wet the most. They looked pretty bad and I wanted to do something that would help. I sanded with 120 grit and then used the wood glue method mentioned above (adding a bit of water) to create a sheen and a new surface on the damaged areas. After that dried, I sanded all of it again for a smoother finish. The glue paste filled in some of the pitting for a much better new surface. I then used a real good "gripper" primer and then an alkyd paint on top of it all. ( 2 coats). The alkyd dries to a hard enamel finish and seals it from abuse, much better than the cheap wood. I was really surprised how well it transformed the beveled edges of the cabinets. It is not perfect, but a huge improvement over what it was. And much less expensive than replacing the cabinets. It got better as I went, after doing one cabinet door it continued to get better with the gluing, the sanding, and the painting. Make sure to use a very good brush to apply the primer, and a high density foam roller to apply the paint, it makes the finish much smoother.

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  • Jonathan Jenkins Jonathan Jenkins on Dec 22, 2017

    By Getting real wood. I done supporting this cheap crap, and making my own cabinets.

  • Steve Steve on Aug 12, 2018

    You can use an electric sander. As mentioned before, Start with a lower number sand paper, more aggressive grit, to knock down raised areas. Be easy with that grit, 120 or 100 on undamaged surfaces. Those can be sanded with less abrasive even as high as 400 & 440 if you just want to dull finish to paint over it. By adding primer first on rough or pitted surfaces, it will help cover imperfections as well as require less coats to cover surface that you are painting. I don’t think enamel is necessary. Given the fact that you have an adequate layer of primer, paint and clear finish (For durability.) if you are brushing enamel, brushes are more expensive, paint is higher, and more difficult to clean up. LET US ALL REMEMBER NOT TO SINK TOO MUCH $ INTO PRESSED WOOD FURNITURE IF YOU ARE TRYING TO SELL IT. You may put more in it than you can get out of it. So kiss 💋...keep it simple stupid. Lol good luck

  • Joe Cos Joe Cos on Sep 25, 2018

    Use the super thin formula of super glue. You can get this from any hobby store. Its thinner than water and will wick into the wood fibers then harden up. Best to use a vice to press the wood back into its shape as much as possible then add the super-glue. This must be done in a well ventilated area due to the off gassing of the super glue. I have used this to repair water swollen wood with good results. Once hardened you can sand back to the original thickness, prime and paint. If you have a large area you may need to drill small holes into the wood to get the super glue into bigger areas. It will harden the wood back up and stick the fibers back together well enough to hold paint. Once primed, sanded and painted you can't tell that the repair was made.