How to Repair Kitchen Cabinet Doors With Particleboard Swelling

As a generic term, particleboard simply means any boards made with large particles. Particleboard cabinet doors typically contain smaller particles and are usually covered with plastic laminate. Not typically referred to as particleboard cabinet doors, this type of door is made with medium-density-laminate, which consists of smaller particles compressed to form a dense, durable material. When MDL cabinet doors are exposed to high levels of humidity or have direct contact with water, they can swell or expand.

White Kitchen
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Laminated particleboard cabinets are typically stark white.

Step 1

Remove the door from the cabinet by removing the hinge screws with an electric drill and bit. Remove the hinges from the door. Place the door on a flat surface.

Step 2

Insert the tip of a putty knife into any loose edge under the laminate and pry up gently to separate the laminate from the plywood at least 1/16 inch. If there are no loose edges, tap the tip of the knife under the laminate with a hammer and pry up.

Step 3

Inject acetone into the crack between the laminate and particleboard with a glue bottle or any bottle with a thin, narrow tip. Allow the acetone to soften the glue under the laminate for one minute, and then pry up gently. As the laminate lifts up and begins to resist, continue adding acetone. Repeat this until the laminate is removed from the particleboard.

Step 4

Inject wood glue into any open cracks along the edge of the particleboard. Apply clamps to the glued areas. Allow the glue to dry for one hour, and then remove the clamps.

Step 5

Sand the swollen area flat using a belt sander with a 100-grit belt. Place a level on the door. Sweep the level over the door to ensure it's flat. If you find high spots, re-sand the door and check it again with the level.

Step 6

Apply acetone to the back of the laminate. When the dried glue begins to soften, scrape it off with the putty knife.

Step 7

Add contact cement to the sanded door and the back of the laminate with a brush. Allow the cement to dry for 15 minutes or until the glue is dry to the touch.

Step 8

Place 1/4-inch dowels across the surface of the door, roughly spaced 4 inches apart, and long enough to span the length of the door.

Step 9

Set the laminate on the dowels, centered over the door. Remove the dowels by sliding them out one at a time, starting with the center dowel.

Step 10

Tap the surface of the door randomly with a rubber mallet to rebond the laminate to the particleboard. Use a hand-sanding block with 220-grit sandpaper to smooth and round the edges of the door if needed.