How to repair chipped paint on kitchen cabinets – A step by step guide

It can be quite heartbreaking when the paint on your kitchen cabinets starts chipping away, bit by bit. As with all things in life, even kitchen cabinet paint has an end. Over the lifetime of your beautiful kitchen, the cabinets will see plenty of use. They will be opened daily, have boxes, utensils, and appliances stuffed into and out of them, get scratched, banged up, and overall wear down over time. That is why we have created this step-by-step guide on how to repair chipped paint on kitchen cabinets, to make it as simple and easy for you to get your kitchen back to its brand-new state!

We have thrown in some additional tips as well, so be sure to go through the question sections to see if you find anything useful. Good luck, and happy cooking!

Please do check out our other articles on how to calculate linear feet for kitchen cabinets   or how to organize small appliances in a small kitchen.

Why does kitchen cabinet paint get chipped?

There are plenty of reasons why this happens. First and foremost, the kitchen is typically the second most humid room in the house, after the washrooms. The humidity plays a strong role in slowly breaking down the layers of paint. To avoid this, you could get a dehumidifier in kitchen. Not only would that help prevent paint chipping, it would make those summer lunches much more comfortable to cook as well.

Another reason for paint chipping is the Oil and grime that comes from cooking. Plenty of oil evaporates when you cook and that oil sets on surfaces all along the kitchen. This is why the kitchen countertops tend to be slightly sticky after deep frying in a wok. To avoid this, try using oil with higher smoke points and cooking at lower temperatures. The most effective way to fight against oil and grime is to get a smoke vent, if you have the budget for it.

Kitchen cabinet paint can also chip off if it was not applied properly in the first place. If any of the following mistakes were made during painting the cabinets, it will lead to the paint chipping off faster,

Mistakes leading to kitchen cabinets paint chipping

  • Not cleaning the surface before applying the primer
  • Not applying primer
  • Uneven application of primer
  • Not letting the primer dry before applying paint
  • Uneven application of paint

As you can see, a lot of the issues are caused by improper application of the primer. The primer is the agent that helps the paint stick to the surface of the cabinet. So, no wonder the paint will chip if it is not properly applied.

The final and most common obvious reason for kitchen cabinet paint chipping is the constant use that kitchen cabinets go through. The cabinet doors are opened and closed during the preparation of almost every meal. Boxes, pans, utensils and ingredients are stuffed in and pulled out. Given the amount of use that kitchen cabinets go through, its no wonder that they paint gets a little chipped over time.

What materials do I need to repair chipped paint on kitchen cabinets?

Depending on how well you want to do the repairs, you will need the following items.

Paint. You will obviously need paint that matches the color of the cabinets. Try to get the exact color, this will give your repair job the best possible look. If you can not find the exact color that you are looking for but find a shade that is extremely close, then there is a quick hack. Instead of just painting the damaged area, paint the entire panel. This will use more paint, but the repair job will look exponentially better.

Primer. You will definitely need primer. Primer is the binder that makes the paint stick to the kitchen cabinet panel. You can get away without using any primer, but the longevity of your repair work will not be very long at all.

Sandpaper. This will be used to sand down the damaged part of the kitchen cabinet. If you are repainting an entire panel, then you will need to sand down the entire panel. 320 grit sandpaper seems to work best.

Cloth or rag. You will need something to wipe off loose dirt before you start sanding. Also, need to wipe off the little paint particulates after you finish sanding. You can also use some detergent water for the initial cleaning.

Brushes and rollers. You will need one small paintbrush for applying the primer. You will also need another small paint brush and a roller to apply the paint as evenly as possible.

A piece of chalk. This is not mandatory, but it is very helpful to mark out the areas that need retouching and repairs.

How to repair chipped paint on kitchen cabinets?

Gather the aforementioned materials and follow this step-by-step guide to get your kitchen cabinets look like they are brand new

Step 1

Identify the locations that need to be repaired. You would think the damaged locations would glare out to you, but think again. Chipped patches of paint tend to spread out from one location, so you need to find every spot that needs repairs. We recommend illuminating the kitchen (using your phone flashlight to scan the cabinet surface also works) and marking the areas with a piece of chalk.

Step 2

Use a cloth or rag to wipe down any surface dirt or grime from the surface of the cabinets. It is optional to spray on some detergent water onto the cabinets and then wiping them down, as this will help provide a very thorough cleaning. After cleaning, let the surface completely dry.

Step 3

Use sandpaper (320 grit works best) to sand down the part of the kitchen cabinet that is damaged. It may look like you are making the damage worse, but don’t worry. Getting rid of old paint is essential to the retouching process.

If you want to retouch the entire cabinet panel, then sand down the entire side of the panel. This part may be slightly laborious.

After the relevant areas have been sanded, repeat step 2 to remove any little paint particulates or dust that is stuck to the surface of the cabinet.

Step 4

After the surface is clean and completely dry, apply a single thin layer of primer with a paintbrush. Make sure that the primer is as even as possible. Let the primer dry according to the instructions of the primer manufacturer.

Step 5

Once the primer has completely dried, apply a single layer of paint evenly over the repair area surface. Use either a brush or a roller, its up to you. The most important part of this process is to apply the paint as evenly as possible.

Once the paint layer has dried completely, feel free to apply 1-2 more layers of paint. Again, it’s important to remember that the paint must be applied as evenly as possible.

Step 6

When the layers of paint have completely dried, clean the surface cloth or a rag and there you go, you just retouched your kitchen cabinets. They look like new!

Is repairing chipped paint on kitchen cabinets worth it?

Yes, it is. Painting a kitchen is the easiest and most budget friendly way to liven up the place. It costs 1/3 to ¼ the amount it would to get a new kitchen cabinet set. Painting and repairing offers a fresh look at the fraction of the cost. The process only requires some time, effort and dedication. Using our 6-step process to repair chipped paint on your kitchen cabinet will make that time, effort and dedication as efficient as possible.

Best paint for kitchen cabinets?

Typically, harder finishes are much better for kitchen cabinets. We recommend to avoid matte or eggshell type finishes. The ideal finish is a surface that is durable and can be cleaned and wiped easily. This will ensure that you won’t be repainting the kitchen again in a year or so. The best finishes are gloss, satin, or even semi-gloss.

How to repair dents in in kitchen cabinets?

This is slightly different from repairing chipped paint, but no need to worry, it’s not that difficult. After you have finished the 6 steps in retouching an area, apply some soft wax over the dent. Smoothen out the wax and remove any excess amounts to make the area as flat and flush with the panel as possible. Then repaint over the wax area to help blend in completely.

Final thoughts on how to repair chipped paint on kitchen cabinets

In this guide, we tried to help out anyone who is facing the problem of chipped paint on kitchen cabinets. We explained why this problem occurs in the first place, along with some ways to delay the paint on the kitchen cabinets from chipping. Then we outlined the materials and supplies you will need to perform the repair. After that, we showed the 6-step guide on how to repair chipped paint on kitchen cabinets. We also tried to answer a few frequent queries that people have. We hope you found this guide helpful and are on the track to making your kitchen look like it’s brand new! Good luck, and happy cooking!

James is a plumber and handyman hailing from the southwest with over 20+ years of experience in his field. He has incredible knowledge on all the brands in the market and how to perform installation, maintenance and repairs of anything you need in the kitchen.

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