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How To Repair Cabinets

Rob Sabo | Improvement Center Columnist | December 14, 2011

Cabinetry is a major focal point of any kitchen. If your kitchen cabinets are slightly worse for wear, however, there are a variety of simple fixes that can quickly return them back to showroom condition.

Repairing kitchen cabinets

  • Nicks and scratches: Rust-Oleum sells a wide variety of stain-filled touch-up markers that are perfect for hiding small scuffs and scratches in cabinetry. The markers don't fill in the scratch; instead, they stain the lighter-colored wood inside the scratch to match the rest of the cabinet panel. For deeper scratches, use a filler pencil first.
  • Water damage: Kitchen cabinets in lighter colors such as golden oak often take on a whitish appearance over time. Howard Products sells an excellent product called Restor-A-Finish that eliminates white water marks, blends out scratches and blemishes, and restores color and luster to faded finishes. The product comes in nine different colors from golden oak to ebony brown.
  • Sticky drawers: First, try removing the drawers and lubricating the guides with an aerosol lubricant such as Tri-Flow, which contains Teflon. If this does not work, your drawer guides or slides might be worn out and need replacing. Home improvement stores sell new slides and guides that should match your old ones. Replacement is as simple as taking the drawer out, removing the old slides and installing new ones. Make sure to replace new guides in exactly the same location on the cabinet frame so that your drawers do not hang up or stick during operation.
  • Banging doors: Another easy fix. Self-stick adhesive bumpers instantly quiet noisy doors.
  • Broken panels: Perhaps the kids have smashed in one of the panels on a lower cabinet. This is the most difficult repair, and you might have to hire a professional. For smaller areas of damage, you might be able to install a thin piece of plywood paneling on the inside of the kitchen cabinet and glue the broken pieces to it. Use a color-matching wood filler to fill in any gaps, sand when dry, and then re-stain the fixed area to make it match as best as possible. For areas with large damage, you probably should consider hiring a professional cabinet contractor who can install a completely new panel if necessary.

Most of the time, all it takes to repair kitchen cabinets is a little perseverance.