What to Do About Common Cabinet Problems

Photo: Kai Hendry/flickrUh oh! There it goes again -- that cabinet door that always bangs annoyingly or the almost-impossible-to-open drawer from Hell. Even if you've gotten used to living with problem cabinets or drawers, cabinet repair should really be a priority on your "Let's Finally Get Organized" list. At best, a non-functional cabinet is an inconvenience. If left neglected, it can be a household safety hazard, resulting in anything from pinched fingers, caused by an uncooperative kitchen or bathroom drawer, all the way to serious injury from a falling cabinet. Here's a checklist of 7 common cabinet problems and their often surprisingly simple solutions.


One of your drawers sticks, making it difficult to open.


Sticky drawer repair is a fairly uncomplicated DIY. After removing the drawer, clean its slide and the cupboard tracks, dry well, and spray them both with a lubricant such as WD-40. Fit the drawer back onto the tracks. If the slides are actually damaged, you can buy easy-to-install drawer slide replacements at the hardware store.


Cabinet doors won't stay closed.


The repair for cabinet doors which keep swinging open may be as simple as tightening a loose screw to attach the hinge more securely. If this doesn't help, the problem could be that your cabinet is not on the level and needs realignment.


Cabinet hinge screws will not stay in place, because the screw holes have been stripped.


There are several popular fixes for this. First, try removing the hardware. Pack the space with wooden toothpicks or matchsticks, glue in place, then cut off the excess height with a utility knife. Replace the hardware according to normal procedure. A more drastic solution is to install repair plates or use expandable anchors in place of regular screws. Finally, if you are still unable to use the existing holes, relocate the hinges a fraction of an inch away from their original spot.


The finish of bathroom or kitchen cabinets is worn or damaged.


Go over minor scrapes with a wood fill stick, matched to the color of your cabinets. If the damage is more serious, good quality wooden cabinets can be sanded and re-stained to remove nicks, scratches, and other signs of wear. If the cabinet surface is a less expensive type of material, try painting over it. Textured cover-ups such as chalk paint are great for concealing uneven surfaces. There are even kits on the market that include everything you need to easily degloss, paint, and glaze your cabinets.


Your cabinet doors or drawers bang when they close.


Easy-to-use door and drawer bumpers are available. They are designed as "peel-and-stick" protection, although some homeowners prefer to screw them in place for an extra-secure grip. Choose from various thicknesses to find the one that matches the type you have in your other cupboards.


The bottoms of drawers are saggy.


Repair drawers that are sagging by using wood glue to stick on a ¼ inch sheet of plywood, cut to shape, as reinforcement.


Your cabinet hardware looks less than its best.


Start by cleaning the hardware and buffing it with a metal polish. If you are still unhappy with its appearance, try unscrewing it and spray painting. The most expensive fix is replacing the hardware altogether; this is a way of giving your kitchen an updated look that while pricey, still costs less than ordering new cabinets.

For more major bathroom or kitchen cabinet repair, hire a qualified professional

Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

Updated January 9, 2018.

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