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How to Repair Cabinets the Fast and Easy Way

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Looking to update your bathroom cabinets? Upon a closer look at your cupboards, you may find out you need a DIY cabinet door repair. Whether your cabinets are MDF or particleboard, let’s learn how to repair cabinets the fast and easy way.

closeup of gray cabinet doors with hardware

HOW TO REPAIR CABINETS THE FAST AND EASY WAY

Y’all, I’m a little backwards.

Yeah… I can just hear my ‘little’ brothers yelling a hearty ‘amen’ to that… IF they read my blog.  Which they don’t. 😉

Giving directions the wrong way happens often in my head (though most of the time I catch myself).

I hang my clothes inside out (c’mon… I’m not the only one, right?!)

And, I’m left-handed. (I can heaaaar youuuuuu… “Oh, now it all makes sense!”)

Then there’s the whole repairing-the-cabinets-AFTER-they-are-painted thing.

Yep.  After I finished updating my rental bathroom cabinets (the first phase of my apartment bathroom makeover), I incorrectly re-hung one of the doors, and I chipped it…

diy cabinet door repair chipped corner of door

Since repairs are often done BEFORE cabinets are painted (see, backwards!) I thought I would at least post about my cabinet update in the correct sequence and share how to repair an MDF bathroom cabinet door.

What Is MDF?

“MDF” is the acronym for “Medium-Density Fiberboard”. MDF is a cheaper and yet still a strong alternative to solid wood. Both solid wood and MDF cabinets have their pros and cons, and you can read more about it at Sebring Design!

By the way, many apartments and rental homes use MDF cabinetry and cupboards (I actually have never seen an apartment with the more expensive solid wood cabinets). So, it stands to reason that My Wee Abode most certainly has MDF kitchen cabinets as well as MDF bathroom cabinets.

Can I Repair MDF Cabinet Doors?

Yes, you CAN repair MDF cabinet doors (sometimes called laminate cabinet doors, too). And the chunk that I took out of my cabinets was super easy to repair!

Did you know, even water-damaged MDF cabinets can be repaired? However, it does take a bit more time and effort, but it’s really not hard. Just be sure the fiberboard isn’t ‘crumbly’ or rotted. Check-out a quick and simple how-to from Dfranco Painting and Wallpaper.

This post may contain affiliate links, at no additional cost to you. For more information, see my complete disclosure HERE.

DIY Cabinet Door Repair – What You’ll Need

You will only need a few items to repair a chip or a hole in an MDF cabinet door. All of these items were suggested to me by my brother, who happens to be a finished carpenter by trade!

How to Repair MDF Cabinet Doors

The chip that was taken out of the MDF cabinet door above was pretty much a ‘clean’ break and the chip was still attached. It needed just a little bit of filling with the Plastic Wood. Here’s what I did:

Glue and Clamp

  • Dip your toothpick or wooden skewer in your glue of choice. Scrape off some of the excess glue and then gently lift the chip and add the glue between the chip and the door. Press down with your fingers and wipe away the excess glue that comes out.
  • After wiping away the excess glue (be sure it’s wiped off with a damp cloth so nothing sticks to the glue), take your paper (I used waxed paper so it wouldn’t stick) and your C-clamp and snugly screw the clamp where the repair is. Let dry for two hours for best results.
    c-clamp with paper clamped on cabinet door

Patch and Sand

  • After the glue is dry, take your plastic wood and ‘smear’ onto the area to fill any holes are gaps (I just used my finger). You can use the same method for any holes that you may see on your cabinets, too! Allow drying until the ‘pink’ color has disappeared.
    diy cabinet door repair with plastic wood drying
  • When the Plastic Wood is dry (no pink showing), take your 320 grit sandpaper and sand the area until smooth. Wipe the dust off with a damp wiping cloth.
    hand sanding cabinet door

Retouch with Paint

  • If your cabinet is already painted, like mine, touch up the area with the matching paint, and make sure to ‘feather’ the paint into the rest of the paint area for a smooth look (the paint manufacturer said this wouldn’t’ work, but it did!) And, if you have any rough areas, sand again, wipe and touchup. (I did three coats, per the manufacturer’s instructions… more on that with my cabinet painting tutorial).
    diy cabinet door repair finished

This DIY was much easier than my DIY Countertop for less than $50, but not as simple as adding a closet to a room in 30 minutes!

DIY Cabinet Door Repair- Sneak Peak!

And here is a close-up of the finished product!

closeup of gray cabinet doors with hardware

Be sure to visit all three posts in this series:

Now It’s Your Turn

How ’bout you? Have you ever patched or repaired your bathroom cabinets? What about kitchen cupboard repairs? Let me know any tips you may have in the comments!

signature for blog
closeup of gray cabinet doors with hardware

How to Repair Cabinets the Fast and Easy Way

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Active Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Estimated Cost: $10

Easily repair and MDF cabinet with these simple steps.

Materials

  • Glue (Wood or School Glue)
  • Toothpick or wooden skewer
  • Waxed paper
  • Plastic Wood
  • Damp wiping cloth
  • Touch up paint
  • Craft paint brush

Tools

  • Mini C-Clamp
  • 320 grit sandpaper

Instructions

    1. Dip your toothpick or wooden skewer in your glue of choice. Scrape off some of the excess glue and then gently lift the chip and add the glue between the chip and the door. Press down with your fingers and wipe away the excess glue that comes out.
    2. After wiping away the excess glue (be sure it’s wiped off with a damp cloth so nothing sticks to the glue), take your paper (I used waxed paper so it wouldn’t stick) and your C-clamp and snugly screw the clamp where the repair is. Let dry for two hours for best results.
    3. After the glue is dry, take your plastic wood and ‘smear’ onto the area to fill any holes are gaps (I just used my finger). You can use the same method for any holes that you may see on your cabinets, too! Allow drying until the ‘pink’ color has disappeared.
    4. When the Plastic Wood is dry (no pink showing), take your 320 grit sandpaper and sand the area until smooth. Wipe the dust off with a damp wiping cloth.
    5. If your cabinet is already painted, like mine, touch up the area with the matching paint, making sure to ‘feather’ the paint into the rest of the paint area for a smooth look (the paint manufacturer said this wouldn’t’ work, but it did!) If you have any rough areas, sand again, wipe and touchup. (I did three coats, per the manufacturer’s instructions… more on that with my cabinet painting tutorial).

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24 Comments

  1. Nice repair! I “Love it when a plan comes together. ” I love home repair tips as my SO doesn’t do much of that stuff–at least not when I wanted it done (yesterday!) I am so blessed to have wooden cabinets, albeit 30 years old, in kitchen and bath as I am such a klutz that MDF wouldn’t stand a chance! My kitchen sink cabinet has/had? a MDF floor that is slowly sinking from old water damage, but as my ex and I used to say when attempting home projects, “You can’t see it from the living room.” Love the gorgeous knobs; but as a klutz again, I’ve ripped holes in robes, especially, catching them on the sticky-out-parts. I have also had good luck “spreading” glue into tight spots by spreading it on an old credit card, heavy cardstock, etc. , then into a crack as those tiny tipped glues always clog for me! Clothespins have also made great C clamps for small projects (think reglueing broken basket reeds!).

    1. Clothespins are an excellent clamp for baskets and more fragile items, Kathy. I can just see under your sink with the sinking floor… I get it, and I think I have a relative (we won’t mention names or relationships) that might have one in what we lovingly call her ‘outhouse’. Def a project to help with! 😉

    1. I always approach these DIY with trepidation, Debra… then when I do them, it’s not nearly as bad as I thought (same with pitching brands… so hard to take the step, then I’m surprised at how easy it is)!

    1. Thanks for stopping in, T’onna! Yes, I installed those knobs when I first moved into MWA, as the old ones made my yellow (now gray) cabinets look even worse! Re-installed on my ‘new’ cabinets! 😉

  2. Julie, you never cease to amaze me with your can-do attitude and your boundless energy. Love that you’re working on the bathroom–you go, girl!

    Thanks so much for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!

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