How To Repair Water Damaged Kitchen Cabinets?

This is something we all face in one way or another. There will be some sort of damage to your cabinets if there is a water system installed. Whereas particle board cabinets get damaged severely, their solid wood counterparts are not safe as well. So like you, a lot of other people keep asking themselves how to repair water damaged kitchen cabinets?

Well, that depends on the level of damage already done. But you can keep the damage level at minimal as long as you dry out the cabinets ASAP. In this article, you will learn about everything to fix the water damage behind kitchen cabinets. I will also tell you when you must refinish and even replace it.

6 Steps To Repair Water Damaged Kitchen Cabinets

repairing water damaged cabinets

Once you notice the damage, there is no time to spare. The more time passes; your cabinets will be less unsalvageable. From weakening the outer shell to damaging the finish, the damage could be unimaginable.

Resolving the water damage under kitchen cabinets takes a good observation first before rushing to the solutions. To determine the extent of damage and to learn how to repair water-damaged particle board cabinets, follow the steps carefully:

  1. Clear The Cabinet

Open the cabinet and check what you can save. Remove everything that you can save from the cabinet. If you use airtight containers to store foods, you can keep them and throw away items stored in paper bags or cardboard boxes.

  1. The Level of Damage

Determine first what caused the damage in the first place. Was it leaking water or high humidity? If the leaky water source is the main culprit, start by shutting off the main water supply valve.

Maybe you got a burst pipe issue? Depending on the cause, the severity of damage will vary. The situation gets worse if the cabinet is made of particleboard.

If it is made of plywood or particleboard, is it warped?  Are the glue joints still intact? See, you have to find out a lot of issues here. The delamination may be already occurred. Find out whether it is sagging or not?

Before you come up with an action plan, you must find out the answers to these questions. Even if you can’t repair the damage yourself, answering these questions will help you to explain it to the professional.

  1. Make & Take The Action

Now, before you think about what to do to repair the damage, get rid of any standing water or dry out the dampness. It’s really easy to dry any wet kitchen. You can use air movers or dehumidifiers. If it seems costly, you can rent them from your local supply company.

Once the cabinets are dried out, you can assess the damage further. Evaluating further is important since simply drying the cabinet can’t save it always.

Gather all of your necessary tools like screws, clamps, glue, etc. If you have particleboard cabinets and wondering how to repair water damaged particle board cabinets, you are in luck! But before that, I have to talk about dealing with the delamination first.

If the cabinet is delaminated, start by gluing the delaminated layers first. Use C-clamps to clamp the sheets together once the adhesives are properly spread.

For particle boards, the fix is a little bit different. Find the separating bracing and if you can you have to replace the old braces. Use glue and screws to reset the old braces. Eventually, it will help to restore stability.

Now watch a video on fixing MDF cabinets. You will learn a  pretty amazing trick!

  1. Get Rid of Stains

If the problem has been going on for a while, the woods/particle boards may have darkened already. You will notice blackening stains on the cabinets. Use Oxalic acid to remove such stains. But are something to do before applying the acid.

Mix the oxalic acid and water to create a saturated solution and apply it to the blackened/darkened woods using any brush. Once the solution dried out, you should see dramatic improvement. If not, brush more.

Now you should neutralize the acid. Create a mixed solution of baking soda and water (1/2 cup baking soda & 1 gallon of water) and sponge the solution on the brushed woods. Use clear water to wash the woods and let it dry. Once dried, it is ready for refinishing.

  1. Replace Beyond Repairable Parts

While repairing, you may find out some parts of the cabinets are totally damaged and beyond repair. Most like the bottom shelf will be sagged and waterlogged. You may have to replace it. You can get a professional opinion if you wish considering this step might be a lot more complex.

  1. Get Rid of Bad Smell

You need to get rid of bacteria and pathogens. So disinfect it using any kitchen cleaner. This will ensure no mold can grow back over time. Use an ozone machine to get rid of odors from the cabinet. You will be storing food items there, so take actions to disinfect and deodorize accordingly.

Causes of Water Damaged Particle Board Cabinets

Your job does not end with the repair; you should take preventive measures to avoid it in the future. To do so, you should know what causes such a problem in the kitchen.

The kitchen is the most vulnerable place in the entire house due to so many water lines and pipes. So the chance of water damage there is very high. Any single leakage from either the pipe or the water lines will bring catastrophe for the cabinets. Here are the probable causes that you should be aware of since the stake is really high:

  • Leakage in the under the sink pipes.
  • Troubled water supply lines.
  • Leaking faucets in the kitchen sink.
  • Overflown sinks.
  • Burst water pipes.
  • Faulty water lines from your fridge.

Preventive Measures For Water Damaged Particle Board Cabinets

water damaged kitchen cabinet

As you have seen, the fix is pretty simple and straightforward. Some people solve the problem just by sanding the area and applying primer & matching paint. In case of MDF based cabinets, you should use an oil-based primer. No matter how easy the fix is or you take the help of a professional, your cabinets won’t be the same!

So, it’s always better to take preventive measures to stop this from happening in the first place. Now naturally, the kitchen cabinets will deteriorate over time; but there is a lot more to do to lengthen its lifecycle. Make a habit of following the tips mentioned below:

  • Fix all the leaky water lines and pipes. This is something you should do even before you dry the cabinet.
  • While cleaning the cabinet, never use excessive water. Instead, create a 1:1 solution of water and vinegar to clean it. Wipe clean it right away once you are done cleaning!
  • Never wait once you notice any spill on the kitchen cabinet. Waiting will damage the structural integrity by damaging the floors of the cabinet.
  • Never use any abrasive cleaning pads to clean the cabinets.
  • Refinish your cabinet at regular intervals. You will see some damages during the regular refinishing and take immediate measures. Let any professional do the refinishing. He will tell you what to do if he notices any problem.

What Type of Kitchen Cabinets Get Water Damaged?

There are a lot of types available in the market. It’s important that you learn about them all. That way you can determine how prone yours to water damage. Since there are a lot of them out there, have a look at the most common types of them.

  • Solid Woods

The most expensive and rare of its kind. It’s rare because not so many people use them nowadays. If you do have them you are lucky! They are less likely to get water damaged easily. But not water-proof at all. If you allow enough time, water will penetrate the solid woods.

Yes, it is true they are a pretty hard nut to crack but once damaged, it gonna cost you a lot. You will have two options. Either you will have to sand it or replace the damaged parts of the cabinet.

  • Particle Board

The weakest of its kind and probably the cheapest as well. Most people use them and they are highly susceptible to water. Once damaged, they keep wondering how to repair particle board cabinets?

But you have to understand they are not real woods. They are made of wood mixtures, resins, and glue. Water makes the glue joints weak pretty quick. Just within a few days of water damage, your cabinet will fall apart unless you take quick action.

  • Veneer

This is something people apply over their existing kitchen cabinets when they want to update their kitchens. You may have particle board or solid wood cabinets, but you can apply veneer glued to yours for better looks and protection. But still, it won’t make the cabinet 100% water-proof.

With constant water touch, the glue will eventually dissolve and do the ultimate damage.

Wrapping Up

Your kitchen cabinets play a great role to maintain the overall hygiene of your home. It has a direct impact on maintaining the good health of your family members. You should not have damaged cabinets anymore. With the above tips and video tutorials, you should not be wondering how to repair water damaged kitchen cabinets either.

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