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D'Franco Finishes – Crystal Lake, Geneva, St. Charles, Chicagoland

Repairing Water Damaged Cabinets

Water is the biggest enemy of wood cabinetry. But there is some good news- repairing water damaged cabinets is possible!

Hi David Cook, coming at you once more with a problem almost everyone has with the wood cabinets in their home: water damage. Water damage does not mean a water pipe broke. Most of the time water damage to cabinets happens over a long period of time. This problem is also not just limited to painted cabinets but to stained cabinets as well. We will learn how to avoid that as well as show you our latest water damage repair.

repairing water damaged cabinets

Here is a mudroom cabinet damaged by repeated water exposure.

How does water damage happen to cabinets?

More times than not, the water damaged cabinets take place over years of exposure to water. This happens in a variety of ways:

  • slow leaking pipes
  • leaving a wet rag on a wood cabinet
  • using excessive water to clean cabinet
  • allowing food to dry on cabinets
  • leaving wet cloths on cabinets
  • the use of harsh chemicals to clean cabinets
  • dishwashers- they can release steam when on its drying cycle.
  • open windows
  • water bowls from pets

All of the above were reasons we have heard and seen the damage 1st hand.

How to prevent water damage to cabinets

Some of the reasons listed above that caused water damage are obvious in how to prevent them, but we will do a quick review.

  • Leaking pipes. Aside from looking under your sinks, you can use water mats. They are under the sink containers that will hold up to 2 gallons of water if there is a slow leak- no problem!
  • Wet rags and excessive water used to clean. Never leave a wet rag hanging on a wood cabinet! When cleaning cabinet doors use products from BOMA or a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water.
  • Keep cabinets clean- wipe away food or excessive water from your cabinets.
  • Dishwashers- look to see where they vent . If they vent against a cabinet find a different brand.
  • Keep windows and doors closed when leaving the house.
  • Water bowls from pets can be messy. Choose a location that is not next to your cabinets.

How a cabinet was made will affect the amount of damage from water. If there is MDF panels in the door- you will have damaged doors, it is just a matter of time. The method of how cabinets were painted will affect to durability as well.

So – How can water damaged cabinets be fixed.

For this post, we are working on a stained cabinet. (You can read here about a water damaged painted cabinet.)

Our cabinet crew was busy at work to first clean this cabinet. We used TSP to get rid of the dirt and cleaning products that were on this cabinet. After cleaning, the surfaces were sanded to remove all of the loose top coat and make a clean solid surface that we could use to re-stain the damaged areas.

For the stain color we had to wing it a bit. The doors were different wood that the main cabinet surface. There was no record of the stain color used when the house was built. what we originally used was stain from DuraSeal. Although initially it looked good, as it dried and we did our wipe off of the excessive stain, the stain did not (and would not) penetrate the wood. This happens with wood species such as maple. Our next solution was to use a gel stain. The gel stain we had to mix 3 colors to match the color variations in the wood.

Once the stain was dry , we were able to apply a clear polyurethane. Once the first coat was dry, we sanded the surface again and applied out 2nd clear coat.

The cabinet with the stain not sticking.

A look where the stain just did not stick very well.

Here is the final look of the cabinet after re-stained and clear coated.

What should you do if you have water damaged cabinets?

It’s easy! Call us! We will provide you with an estimate of how long to will take to fix, the method we use and the cost. We cant wait to help you love the space your in!

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