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Top 3 Problems with Painted Cabinets

Written by David | January 25, 2021

Are you considering painting your cabinets?

“Will the paint on cabinets last?”

“How Durable are painted cabinets?”

“I have painted cabinets and the paint is peeling, can you help?”

“How do I prevent water damage to my cabinets?

“Will the paint chip if I paint my cabinets”

These are the top questions and concerns about having cabinets painted. So we thought we could put together a quick article for you on the top 3 problems with painted cabinets. The top 3 are not what you may expect!

water damaged cabinet - top 3 problems with painted cabinets

Enemy #1 of wood cabinets: water is not a friend

This is the number one problem with wood in your home – moisture!! It doesn’t matter if it is stained or painted cabinets, wood floors, or wood furniture, water will cause permanent damage to wood.

There several ways water can cause damage to wood cabinets, floors or furniture:

  • Leaving wet rags hanging on cabinets
  • Not using coasters on your furniture
  • High humidity
  • Washing wood (painted or stained) with water and leaving heavy water residue on the wood surfaces

After 15 years of painting and re-staining cabinets, water damage is always an issue.

The cabinets by your sink get the most abuse!

  • Water from washing your hands, doing dishes, cooking, and cleaning usually take their toll in this area of your kitchen cabinetry.
  • Next are the cabinets or cabinet panels next to your dishwasher. The ventilation from dishwashers was not given much thought as to where the steam goes. They have traditionally either gone out the top damaging countertops or out the sides damaging the cabinet right next to your dishwasher.
  • Do not use harsh chemicals to clean cabinets – vinegar and water are all you need. Chemical cleaners will cause the finishes of your cabinets to break down faster and then allow water into the wood.
  • Fix any problem as soon as it is seen, don’t wait for it to get worse!

How durable is the paint on the cabinets?

This is question is closely tied to some of the other questions we receive, will the paint peel, and will the paint chip?

When the time is taken to do the right prep work on your wood cabinets – NO the paint will not peel.  When we are getting cabinets ready for paint we have a multi-step process to make sure the paint sticks to the wood:

  • We clean the entire cabinet surface with TSP, degreaser cleaner. This can take several times to get cabinets clean
  • We also scuff sand the surfaces to give the primer something to stick to. When the cabinets are previously painted, the surface is slick so paint or primer has nothing to stick to. Think of it as glass vs. your skin – they both look smooth but one is more porous than the other.
  • Bonding primer is what should be used as your primer for cabinets. This stuff will bond to almost anything! Without the right primer, paint will have issues with sticking to any wood you are painting.

The devil is in the details!! All of the prep work is the key to a great, long lasting paint job.

As for the paint- USE THE BEST! ILVA, ML Campbell, Shur Wood Aqua Chem are the ones we use.  They are great paints!!!

Can you fix the peeling paint on my cabinets?

No.  If the paint is peeling from your cabinets then the only way to fix it is to strip all of the paint from the door(s).


These are the top 3 problems with painted cabinets but there are some other questions we are asked and if you have questions regarding painting your cabinets please let us know.

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