Skip to Content

How to Keep Paint From Peeling Off of Your Cabinets

How to Keep Paint From Peeling Off of Your Cabinets

Share this post:

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click one of these links and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Do you have cabinets with the paint bubbling, peeling, cracking, or chipping? Or, perhaps, you would just like to prevent this from happening after you put forth the effort to repaint your old kitchen or bathroom cabinets.

Initially, this article will go into detail regarding the steps you should take when painting or repainting cabinets to prevent paint from chipping off in the future.

After this, you will read about the steps you must take to repair damaged paint. At the end of this article, we will go over the various possible reasons for peeling paint.

Prevent Paint From Peeling in the First Place

The most helpful action you can take to prevent paint from peeling away from your cabinets is to properly paint them from the get-go, if this is an option, of course.

It is extremely important to thoroughly clean your cabinets of all the grease and other grime that has accumulated on them over time. After all, if these are your kitchen cabinets, they are around when you are cooking food, which usually implies they are around air filled with grease.

You can use a sponge with an abrasive surface and either dish soap and warm water or a degreasing solution to scrub away dirt and oils. Let the cabinets dry completely before moving on to the next step.

It might be a smart move to patch up any damage you find on your cabinets before you paint them. You will need a putty knife, wood filler, and sandpaper to do this part of the project.

Place a dab of wood filler on your putty knife, and use it to smooth over any spots where the wood has cracks, holes, or any other unsightly blemishes.

After this, gently sand the areas that you fixed. One very effective way to make sure your primer will adhere to your cabinets well is by sanding all of the wood gently after you have removed as much of the chipping paint as possible, if it is already present.

Then, thoroughly wipe or vacuum out all the remaining wood dust. This is vital so that you do not end up painting over debris. Next, you need to prime your cabinets.

It is vital to use primer first if you are painting your cabinets from scratch, painting over a darker color, or covering up a spot you repaired.

There are actually certain types of primer available that are made to prevent paint from peeling. Shellac-based primers are ideal and can stand up well against mold. 

When you are in the actual process of painting, make sure to apply enough paint, but not too much because if the layer is too thick, it can result in paint peeling away. Use many thin coats instead of applying the thickest layers possible.

You also have the option of using a protective clear coat atop the actual paint once it is totally dry. This will give your cabinets even greater resistance to the environment.

Make sure you keep your hardware on your cabinets tightened to avoid rubbing off paint with your fingers every time you use them.

Additionally, it may be smart to place a circle of felt inside cabinet doors to prevent them from hitting the wood on the cabinet, causing paint to strip off.

Fix Paint That’s Already Damaged

If you are not the first person to paint your cabinets, and you are instead giving them a fresh coat of paint or repainting areas where there is damaged paint, you will need to find the paint color that your cabinets already have on them.

Unfortunately, this may prove to be a difficult task if they were painted a long time ago. You have the option of either bringing a cabinet door, or as much of the peeled paint you can gather, to a home improvement or painting store to try your best to match the color.

You will also need to match the type of finish that was used. Is it a semi-gloss or satin finish?

If you are having trouble figuring out which finish is already on your cabinets, you can test this out by sampling a little of both types of paint on your cabinets and seeing if it matches after it is completely dry.

Prior to doing anything else, including stripping off old paint, scrub your cabinets clean. This will ensure that the paint sticks to the wood properly. You can use warm water and soap or a degreaser if you need something a little stronger.

Once your cabinets are squeaky clean and dry, sand away the loose or chipped pieces of paint with a sandpaper that has a high grit, such as around 300.

If you avoid sanding away the peeling paint, your new coats will not go on as smoothly nor will the finished coats be even with the old paint on your cabinets.

Wipe off the cabinets again to get rid of all the debris caused by sanding the wood. It is best to also utilize a vacuum when removing the dust to get the cabinets as debris-free as possible.

The next step involves applying primer. Primer is important to use if you are using a latex-based paint, at least in the areas where you have sanded away the old, damaged paint. It is also necessary if you are painting over a dark color with a lighter one.

Use a paintbrush to apply the primer thoroughly in thin layers so as to not cause the primer to build up, becoming too thick and leading to more paint chipping issues in the future.

After the primer is totally dry, it is time to apply your paint. In this step, you will once again use a paintbrush and thinly coat the cabinets, letting each coat dry thoroughly before adding the next layer of paint.

Keep adding more layers of paint until the areas blend in with the old coats of paint on the cabinets. It is vital that you do this in thin layers to ensure that your finishing layer is even with the surrounding paint.

Once this is dry, you are done with your project. If you followed the steps above properly, your newly painted cabinets shouldn’t need to be attended to for years to come.

Just make sure to avoid using cleaning solutions on the freshly painted portions of the cabinets for at least a month.

Why Paint Peels

It is ideal that you figure out if there is an underlying reason for the peeling paint on your cabinets. This way, you can avoid repainting your cabinets constantly due to continuously chipping paint.

Are the cabinets that are peeling located in your bathroom? If so, the damaged paint could be due to there being too much moisture in the air around them.

In this case, make sure your ventilation fan is working properly and that it is completely clean. If too much dust gets stuck in it, it can hinder the ventilation process and result in too much humidity in the air.

One sign that the moisture levels in your bathroom are too high is if you have water dripping down your bathroom mirror or the walls after you take a shower. You might even have excess moisture dripping down from the ceiling.

You can also leave the bathroom door slightly ajar while you are using the shower to let the moisture escape. Showers that are cooler should also help lower humidity levels, though not everyone is willing to give up their nice hot morning shower.

Also, make sure to run the exhaust fan in your bathroom during your shower and for at least 10 minutes after you are finished to get rid of all the humidity in the room, in turn, hopefully correcting your paint peeling issue.

Another reason for damaged paint could be that the cleaning solution you use is too harsh for the paint on your cabinets, causing it to chip and peel away. Try using a gentler cleaner, or simply use dish soap and warm water.

If you notice staining on your walls or ceiling, the underlying cause of your damaged paint could be a leaky roof, which is something nobody wants to find out.

If you suspect this is the problem, get your roof inspected. If it turns out you do have a leak in your roof, you should get it fixed immediately because it can lead to much more severe issues than just chipping paint on your cabinets.

Some other causes for peeling paint include using too many layers of paint initially and using a latex-based paint over an oil-based paint or an older type of paint, such as calcimine.

Not All Paints Are Created Equal

On a final note, it should be mentioned that some paint is of a far better quality than others. If you opt for a paint that is more expensive and higher quality, it should last longer and result in fewer issues as far as chipping paint goes.

Share this post: