How To Fix Bubbled Kitchen Cabinets: Everything You Need To Know




Looking for how to fix bubbled kitchen cabinets?

No problem! In my 5+ years of career as a professional wood fixer, I’ve helped a lot of my clients deal with the exact problems they have. Let me tell you, they all did it. So, you can do it too!

How To Fix Bubbled Kitchen Cabinets

Here are a few things you need to do:

  • Clean and inspect the entire cabinet to get rid of the dust and find the bubbled parts.
  • Remove all the other parts to work better.
  • Cut the bubbles and the sand to smoothen the surface.
  • Apply wood glue and use a roller to help them bond.
  • Lastly, put heavy objects on the repair to flatten the surface.

Is it all? Of course not!  Dig into learn the whole.

Overview of the project-

Estimated CostEstimated DurationSkill Level
$10010 hoursBeginners

What Causes Kitchen Cabinets To Bubble?

Before we talk about the fix, I want to ask you an important question. Do you know what causes kitchen cabinets to bubble?

It’s fine if you don’t know that, but as a professional, I would like you to know. My job is not only to help you fix things but also to enlighten you with the entire thing.

Here are the things you should avoid if you want to save your kitchen cabinets from bubbling:

What Causes Kitchen Cabinets To Bubble

Exposed To Moisture

You can already tell that this is the most obvious cause of bubbled cabinets. Bubbles and swelling are mostly caused by exposure to moisture.

Water getting trapped in the affected area causes the wooden, laminate, or cherry cabinet surface to expand. This creates a bubble effect on the surface. This also causes split wood cabinets.

You should take a look at the surroundings of your kitchen cabinets. If the cabinets around the sink and dishwasher have bubbles, they likely cause them.

Also, there can be direct water damage from leaks, spills, or condensation. If the water is in contact with the cabinets for a prolonged period, bubbling or swelling is quite normal.

Excessive Heat

Another obvious cause can be exposure to excessive heat. Want to learn an interesting fact? Humidity causes wood to expand.

Can’t understand how? Let me explain. Wood has a natural moisture content level. When the level goes up, the wood starts to swell and warp. 

You may wonder, how does humidity affect the moisture content level? It is because when the temperature around the wooden furniture gets humid, it starts to absorb the water vapors in the air.

Suppose the heat-generated cooking appliances, such as the oven and stovetop, are closer to your kitchen cabinets, or the heat in your kitchen tends to get trapped. In that case, it is possibly the cause of why your cabinets are bubbled.

No Protective Layer

Is there any wood sealant applied to your cabinet surface? If you answered no, your kitchen cabinets are at high risk of getting warped, swelled, or bubbled.

The purpose of applying a wood sealant is to add a protective layer to wooden furniture. It will protect them from any type of damage.

I’m sorry to tell you that your cabinets are prone to damage if they don’t have that protective layer. It will also affect their lifespan.

Wear And Aging

I know it is normal for any wooden furniture to wear and age after some time of use. However, the more the cabinets wear, the more it becomes prone to damage.

So, kitchen cabinets naturally become prone to water damage because of the constant exposure to heat and moisture.

Now, you can probably understand why I chose to talk about the causes instead of the fixing method. 

I recommend you go through all the causes and find out the cause of your bubbling cabinet. Then, you can move on to how to fix bubbled laminate cabinets or wooden cabinets. It will greatly help you with the fix, too.

What Tools And Materials Do I Need To Fix Bubbled Cabinets?

If you want to know how to fix bubbling cabinets, you must be looking for the necessary tools and materials, too.

What Tools And Materials Do I Need To Fix Bubbled Cabinets

Don’t worry, I’ve got you! To help you, I have made a list of all the tools and materials you will need to fix bubbled cabinets. These are

Tools And MaterialsUse
Mild Wood Cleaner/ Mineral SpiritsTo get rid of the dust, debris, and grease off kitchen cabinets.
Soft ClothTo clean the cabinets with.
Head ScrewdriverTo remove and reattach the doors.
Utility KnifeTo cut the bubbles.
Grit SandpaperTo sand the swollen edges.
Waterproof Wood GlueTo attach the laminates again to the cabinet surface.
Damp ClothTo wipe away the excess glue.
Heavy ObjectsTo put in the damaged parts to help the glue bond better.

Now that you have the list of materials, you should visit your local hardware shop and buy all the tools mentioned in the list.

This way, you will not have to go look for them while working, and it will save plenty of time too.

How To Fix Bubbled Kitchen Cabinets? 

I know you have been eagerly waiting for this part. So, without any further delay, here are methods to fix your bubbled kitchen cabinets;

  • Step 1: Clean Your Cabinet
  • Step 2: Identify The Damaged Parts
  • Step 3: Remove The Doors
  • Step 4: Get Rid Of Bubbles
  • Step 5: Sand The Affected Area
  • Step 6: Apply Wood Glue
  • Step 7: Reattach The Doors
How To Fix Bubbled Kitchen Cabinets

Step 1: Clean Your Cabinet

One important tip for you would be to clean any wooden furniture before fixing them. You must be thinking why.

It is because cleaning will get rid of the dust, debris, and grease off kitchen cabinets and give you a smooth surface to work on.

Use a mild wood cleaner or mineral spirits to clean your cabinets. Make sure to use a soft cloth instead of any harsh sponge.

For upper cabinets, try cleaning the surrounding ceiling with vacuum to work freely.

Try taking the cabinet off the wall to work better. In that case, be careful while attaching it back so you don’t need to fix the gap between the cabinet and wall later.

Step 2: Identify The Damaged Parts

After you are done cleaning, wipe away the excess water with another soft cloth. While you are doing that, take a good look at the cabinets.

Take this opportunity to find out all the possible problems and make a mental note of all of them.

It will help you to fix all the bubbled parts during the actual fix. Also, it will decrease the chance of leaving any damaged parts unrepaired. 

Step 3: Remove The Doors

Unscrew and remove the kitchen cabinet doors. It will help you to work on the cabinet box better and also on the kitchen cabinet doors if they are swollen, too.

If the cabinet is out of shape, you can also fix the out-of-shape cabinet before you attract the doors.

Step 4: Get Rid Of Bubbles

Take a utility knife and cut the bubbles. I know it sounds weird, but it is the only way to get rid of the bubbles.

If the water-damaged part was large, you could try drying it. However, the bubbles are quite small compared to swollen or warped parts.

If you try to dry the trapped moisture, it will make the other parts of the laminate cabinet dry. It will cause the cabinet to crack or split. 

Excessive heat even cracks melamine kitchen cabinets, So be careful not to damage your cabinet again. It will be hard to fix chipped melamine cabinets.

So, it is better to cut the bubbles instead of drying them. But make sure that the edges are smooth and the cuts aren’t too deep.

Step 5: Sand The Affected Area

When the swollen area is dry, use fine-grit sandpaper and sand the swollen edges to create a smooth surface. 

It will also help to take stains off wood cabinets whether it is water marks or other stains.

Step 6: Apply Wood Glue

Apply a small amount of waterproof wood glue to the back of the laminate and press it back into place on the cabinet surface.

Make sure the wood glue has evenly spread on the entire surface. Use a roller to remove the air bubbles and help the laminate bond tightly to the cabinet surface.

Wipe away any excess glue with a damp cloth. 

According to the kitchen manufacturer’s instructions, you should place a heavy object on the repaired area to add pressure to cabinet components until it is completely dry.

If there are any visible signs of the repair, try refinishing or repainting the repaired parts.

But if there are also kitchen cabinet paint problems like popcorn ceiling or ceiling with asbestos like texture to it, you should repaint or refinish the entire cabinet.

If you are repainting the cabinets, tripods for cabinet doors. It will make it easy for you to paint them.

Though we are talking about metal cabinets, you can use stainless steel materials to replace the horrible metal cabinets.

Step 7: Reattach The Doors

If there are any swollen kitchen cabinet doors, follow the same steps to fix them. 

Let the glue on the kitchen cabinet doors cure completely. Now, you can attach the cabinet doors back to the kitchen cabinets again.

Before you attach the doors, don’t forget to fix the cabinet door panel.

If the doors are too damaged, you can try cabinet door replacement. Make sure that they match with your cabinet properly.

And this is how you get rid of water damage from your kitchen cabinets. However, if the cabinet is wobbling, you can fix the wobbly cabinet in this chance.

If the cabinets are too damaged and you are not able to fix them, don’t give up. At least try consulting a professional before finding replacement to cabinets.

How To Identify The Cause Of Bubbles On My Kitchen Cabinets?

You must be wondering why I am still talking about causes when I have already told you how do you fix bubbles in laminate cabinets.

You are aware of the causes of bubbles on kitchen cabinets. But if I ask you how to identify the causes, will you be able to answer it?

How To Identify The Cause Of Bubbles On My Kitchen Cabinets

Don’t worry if you can’t. Here are the answers;

Ways To Identify
Visual InspectionCarefully inspect the affected areas of the cabinets to look for signs of moisture damage, heat damage, or wear and tear.
Check for LeaksInspect the area around the cabinets for any signs of water leaks from plumbing fixtures, appliances, or the ceiling.
Humidity TestingUse a moisture meter to measure the humidity levels in your kitchen.
Heat ExposureTake a look if there are any heat sources such as ovens, stovetops, or dishwashers near the cabinets.
Material QualityCheck if your cabinet is made of low-quality materials or any signs of poor craftsmanship which can lead to bubbling issues.
History of SpillsConsider any past incidents of spills or water exposure to the cabinets to find out the causes.

What Type Of Adhesive Should I Use To Repair Bubbled Cabinets?

Actually, there are many types of adhesive available in the market. However, let me tell you one thing, all adhesives are not perfect for fixing this problem of bubbles.

You might be thinking then what types of adhesive are okay to fix the bubbled cabinets? Let me help you, there are; 

Adhesive Reason
Wood glueBecause it is made to be used on wood.
Epoxy Because of the durability.
Polyurethane Because it is water-resistant and specifically designed to withstand moisture exposure.
Contact cementThis is suitable for laminated cabinets and creates a secure bond between the laminate or veneer and the cabinet surface.

That’s a lot of benefits, right? This is why a high-quality waterproof wood glue is the perfect solution to repair bubbled cabinets.

How Do You Fix Swollen Laminate Cabinets?

It is quite easy to fix a swollen laminate or thermofoil cabinets. Actually, it is also quite similar to fixing bubble cabinets. The only difference is that you need to dry the swollen part.

You can use a fan to do that. But I highly recommend putting it under direct sunlight. 

In that case, put some damp towel on the cabinet and try not to expose the parts that aren’t swollen.

Then, you need to use wood glue to stick the extended laminate surface to the cabinet surface again. 

There are two ways to do that. The first one is similar to fixing bubbled cabinets. It is by cutting the damaged parts.

Another way would be to melt the existing wood glue. If you think the glue is good to use again, you can choose this way.

To do that, use a heat gun to melt the glue in the swollen area. Then, use a roller to evenly spread and help the glue to stick to the surface again.

You know the rest so I’ll just skip them. And, yeah! Your swollen laminate cabinet is completely fixed.

Tips To Prevent Kitchen Cabinets From Bubbling

I hope all the methods that I mentioned help you to achieve bubble-free kitchen cabinets. 

To end this, here are some tips to prevent your kitchen cabinets from getting bubbles again;

  • Use a wood sealer on your kitchen cabinets to add a protective layer to them.
  • Inspect your cabinets regularly, look for signs of wear, damage, or bubbling, and fix any issues promptly.
  • Try to keep the kitchen well-ventilated so you can prevent heat and moisture from getting trapped in the kitchen, which can cause bubbling in kitchen cabinets.
  • Clean up spills immediately to prevent water marks or any kind of water damage to the cabinets.
  • Install heat protective panels near cooking appliances to minimize heat exposure (thermal exposure) to your cabinets.
  • Fix any water leaks from plumbing fixtures, appliances, or the ceiling to prevent water damage to your cabinets.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Is It Possible To Fix Water-Damaged Cabinets With Bubbles?

Yes! If you follow the proper steps with the right instructions, it is completely possible to fix water-damaged cabinets with bubbles.

Can I Fix Bubbled Laminate?

Yes! Cut the bubbled parts, apply a small amount of wood glue, and let them bond.

Should I Refinish Or Repaint The Cabinets After Fixing The Bubbles?

If the repair parts show any visible sign of the repair, you can refinish the repair. But, it is not required to refinish or repaint the entire cabinet.

Can You Fix Bubbled Wood?

Yes! Dry the bubbled part, sand it down, apply some heat to it, put heavy objects to flatten the wood, and let it cool. The bubbled wood should be fixed.

Final Thoughts

I hope you have found your answer to how to fix bubbled kitchen cabinets. The process is simple. The only thing you need to do is pay attention to the details.

But, don’t get scared by this. Most of my other clients successfully revamped their bubbled kitchen cabinets but following these steps.

So, you can do that too. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to let me know.

All the best!

If you are interested in learning more about restoring a table, stay with- Restore Journey.

Richard Journey

Written by

Richard Journey

Meet Richard Journey, the Antique Furniture Maestro. With a Fine Arts degree in Furniture Restoration and Conservation, he’s a guardian of historical craftsmanship. His accolades include the Golden Chisel Award, and he’s your guide to discovering and restoring antique treasures.

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