how to repair mdf cabinets

How to Repair MDF Cabinets – A Comprehensive Guide

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) is one of the most commonly used materials in construction. Some of the characteristics that make it ideal for construction are that it is strong, durable, and lightweight. However, it is very absorbent.

Since this material is very porous, it is likely to sop up moisture in the air. If you become negligent and you do not do anything to fix the water damage on your MDF, it can rot or become moldy as time passes.

What you will Need to Follow this Tutorial?

Before you start with the steps in repairing your MDF cabinets, here are the things that you need to prepare:

  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrushes
  • Resin
  • Glue
  • Paint
  • Oil-based or alcohol-based Primer
  • Water-resistant sealant
  • Wood filler

Step-by-Step Instructions

At first, you might think that repairing MDF cabinets is a complicated task. But once you learn the steps and do it yourself, you can say that it is an easy project. To help you execute the repair of your MDF cabinets, here are the steps on how to do it:

1. Detach the Affected Area

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If the water damage in the MDF cabinet is only minor, which means that the extent of damage has only affected a small section, repairing the cabinets wouldn’t be too complicated.

The first thing to do is to detach the affected part of the MDF cabinet. So if the door is affected, you should detach it from the entire cabinetry to give you better access once you start the process of repair. Dry the MDF cabinets before starting the repair. To do it, you must leave the cabinet empty. Allow the cabinet to fully dry for several days.

You can dry out the MDF if it hasn’t been excessively denuded to water. Immediately dry it off with paper towels or rags, unblocking all affected drawers and doors. Set up fans so that there is plenty of air that could circulate throughout the damaged area.

You may also dry out the MDF with a hairdryer or heat gun. Run it back and forth through the wet surface like you are mowing a lawn, then back and forth in different directions while you continue drying out the board. The objective is to quickly dry the material to avoid warping it too much.

However, if the water damage has extended to several sections, then you might have to detach the whole piece. With an impact driver, tilt the board’s edges. After detaching the board, carefully trim away the remaining damaged parts.

2. Sand

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Make sure that all hardware has been removed before you sand the cabinets. If you want to keep the surroundings organized, lay a plastic sheet on the floor so it won’t easily accumulate paint or dirt.

Now, it’s time to smoothen the surface of the MDF. Sand over swollen parts to smoothen the area with coarse-grit sandpaper. The task can be tedious and you might have to use several sandpapers to achieve the desired result. Nevertheless, focus only on the affected areas.

It is important that you repeatedly sand the water-damaged areas to ideally smoothen them.

The water-damaged board is noticeably occupied with bubbles. Thus, sanding it down to smoothen it and make it even is very important.

When sanding, you can either use an electric sander or by hand.

3. Fill the Affected Areas

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Using a brush, apply resin glue to surfaces that cannot be reached by the sandpaper. The resin glue is applied evenly on pits, seams, and cracks. Allow the application to dry overnight.

You might notice the resin glue shrivels the moment it dries. Don’t worry though because that is normal. That is why we will use wood filler afterward.

With a blunt knife or spatula, apply wood filler evenly through the seams and cracks which were not fully filled by the resin glue. Allow it to dry completely overnight. The use of a wood filler may not be necessary for minimal damages. However, the filler is ideal for major bumps and ridges.

Perform this step meticulously. The smoother the MDF board looks after the application of filler, the better the product is.

Once dried, sand the putty with coarse-grit sandpaper. Continue sanding the surface until you smoothen it.

4. Apply a primer

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After smoothening the surface, the next step is to apply a primer to make sure the paint sticks well. Do not use water-based primers as MDF will only soak it up.

5. Start painting and put sealant

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Paint the cabinets with one to two coats. The paint will help cover any traces of water damage. Once you are done with painting, it is now time to apply sealant. The sealant will provide further protection to the MDF cabinets against water damage. Painting alone cannot restrain future damages brought by water. Hence, it is always ideal to finish the task with a sealant.

Reconnect the hardware you removed earlier and re-assemble the cabinets.


How did you find this tutorial? If you give importance even to the simplest instructions in the tutorial, you can perform this project.

MDF cabinets are a great addition to your kitchen. They look chic and classy to look at. You’d also love the fact that they are durable and affordable. However, you shouldn’t forget that you have the responsibility to maintain its condition.

In case you notice traces of water damage on your MDF cabinets, you should be abrupt to act on it. If you see indications of water damage on your MDF cabinets, you just contact a professional to help you fix the problem. Otherwise, you can fix it by yourself as long as you know the process of repair.

After learning the steps by steps guide above, you now know how to repair MDF cabinets. The sooner you repair the damaged MDF cabinets, the greater chance you will have of saving the life of your cabinets. Yes, the steps can be tricky. But if you do not lose patience, you will revive your MDF cabinets soon.



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