How To Fix A Warped Cabinet Door

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Table of Contents

The Basics of Cabinet Doors

A cabinet is one of the most common woodworking projects a homeowner engages in. A basic cabinet design consists of a case or box frame with shelves for storage and hinges or other opening mechanisms used to attach the cabinet door on each side. While the main structure of cabinets is primarily stationary, the cabinet door is exposed to movement at the hinges with constant opening and closing.

The Problem with Wooden Cabinets

Wooden cabinets are a beautiful addition that brings functionality to any home, and with proper care, they can last a lifetime. However, like most things in a home, cabinet doors can sometimes develop problems. They can twist, crack, and warp due to improper or incomplete sealing and excessive moisture and heat.

What Causes Cabinet Doors to Warp

Warping in reference to woodworking refers to the bending out of shape or bowing out of shape of flat or straight forms, as is the natural state of wooden cabinets and other wood products.

But in this case, a warped cabinet door could refer to a slight twist in the door caused by crooked hinges. This doesn’t allow the door frame to meet the top and bottom face frame and lay flat when the cabinet door is shut, causing a space that allows air to flow into the cabinet, bringing in debris and dust.

However, to understand how to fix a warped cabinet door, we must first understand some of the reasons causing the warped cabinet doors.

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Common Causes of Wooden Cabinet Doors Warping

Solid Panel Warping

Excessive Moisture

It is understood that wood loves water from either moisture or humidity. The core of the problem lies in woods’ moisture content’ (MC). When the moisture content in wood is greater than the moisture in the air around it, warping will occur.

If an unsealed panel of the solid wood cabinet door starts to twist and warp, it is almost always because of moisture. Either due to water, high humidity, or some nearby dripping water. The exposed wooden material of the door sucks up all of that moisture like a sponge, causing the wood fibers of the door to swell, expand, and twist.

In the case of the kitchen, if cabinet doors are situated near a sink, then water can splash back onto the door.

On the other hand, if the cabinet doors are situated in a bathroom, shower steam could cause a warp.

Excessive Heat

Too much heat inside the home can cause cabinet doors to expand because of moisture imbalance between the interior and exterior. In addition, sudden temperature changes can cause a dramatic expansion of cabinet doors and even lead to wood cracking or splitting.

how-to-fix-a-warped-cabinet-door

Structural Issues

Stripped Screws

Screws hold the door together, and if stripped, broken, or damaged, the door may start to catch on the jambs as it is opened or closed. In this case, it is advised to remove the stripped screws and replace them with new ones.

Only One Side Is Finished

After cabinet doors are painted, they’re often glazed with a clear finish to increase the wood’s durability. In other cases, homeowners may choose a different finish to give them a new look. Unfortunately, if the finish is only on one side, or the doors have a different finish on both sides, it may cause the cabinet doors to warp.

A Misaligned Latch

If the latch is off by just a few centimeters, the door may not catch as you open or close it. If this is the case, avoid forcing the door shut, as the door may stick to the door jamb.

An Improper or Incomplete Seal

If the latch is off by a couple of centimeters, the door may not catch as you open or close it. If this is the case, avoid forcing the door shut, as the door may stick to the door jamb.

Can A Warped Cabinet Door Truly Be Fixed?

While a warped solid wood door is difficult to deal with, you can save warped cabinet doors. However, sometimes the warping can be so severe that the only option is to replace the door completely. Custom cabinet doors are the perfect replacement option! So, let’s explore how to fix a warped cabinet door.

Fixing a Warped Cabinet Door

Tools You Need To Fix A Warped Cabinet Door

  • Screwdriver
  • Two sawhorses
  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Varnish
  • Sealant
  • A large blanket or heavy towels
  • 50-lb (23 kg) sandbag or something with an equal weight

How To Fix a Warped Cabinet Door

Remove the Door

After gathering all the required supplies, repairing the warped cabinet door is simple. Start by placing the two sawhorses four to five feet apart. Next, use your screwdriver to unscrew the hinges on the door’s jamb and place it across both sawhorses. Finally, ensure that the warped side faces up.

Sanding

If the warp leaves a gap, flip the door so that it is in the center. Then, use the sandpaper to sand the door’s top part, where it comes into contact with the doorstop.

Move the sandpaper back and forth across the grain of the door to narrow it down slightly. After sanding the top part of the door, check your progress. By now, the gap should be getting smaller as you continue to remove wood from the top edge. The door will fit much better, but sanding won’t altogether remove the warp.

Fix the Jambs

If the door won’t fit after sanding, or it’s severely bowed, you need to fix the jambs. First, move the doorstop further on the jambs to accommodate the door. Next, use your screwdriver to pry the doorstop away from the jamb. Now close the door and reinstall the frames. This technique will help bend your slightly bowed cabinet door.

Flatten the Bowed Wooden Cabinet Door

If the door won’t open and close freely even after sanding and fixing the jambs, assess the level of damage to your door. If the door is slightly warped, lay the sandbag or other object of similar weight on the warped area. Leave the heavyweight there until the warp goes away completely.

If your cabinet door is badly bowed, wet the large blanket or heavy towels and lay them on the warped area. Then, rewet the blanket every day and add 5 to 10lbs (2.3 to 5kgs) of weight on the door until it is straight again.

Regardless of the method you use to flatten the bowed cabinet door, you will have to wait until the door is completely dry and apply a new coat of seal and varnish on the whole door to prevent the warp from appearing again.

When you seal the cabinet door and leave the frame, it may later expand and cause your door to stick. After the paint dries up, you can reinstall the cabinet door.

Replace the Door

Sometimes it can be challenging to fix a bowing door, and the only solution is to replace it. But are there cabinet doors that won’t warp? The answer is yes. There are a variety of products and cabinet door options that won’t warp.

The ideal door should have vertical rails made using different pieces of wood. The two pieces of wood are laminated, with their grains running in opposite directions. Aluminum, steel, and fiberglass cabinet doors won’t warp, and you can consider replacing your wooden doors with them.

How to Prevent Warping of Cabinet Doors

Wood makes great cabinet doors, but sometimes they’re prone to warping. Naturally, wood expands and contracts due to changes in humidity and temperature, resulting in cracking and warping. To prevent such occurrences, you may want to protect your cabinet doors. To protect your cabinet doors from cracking and warping, do the following:

Remove the Doors

If the cabinet doors are painted, use a paint remover and a heat gun to remove them. Once the raw wood is visible, smoothen it and fill any cracks. Sand your doors if they are coated to remove the coating or varnish.

Remove the Paint

If the cabinet doors are painted, use a paint remover and a heat gun to remove them. Once the raw wood is visible, smoothen it and fill any cracks. Sand your doors if they are coated to remove the coating or varnish.

Seal the Wood

Use Varathane or polyurethane sealant to coat all sides of your cabinet doors and wait for them to dry. The exact drying period will be printed on the sealant you use. Once the doors are dry, add another coat and repeat after drying.

Ensure that you don’t miss any spots on the doors, and confirm that you have sealed the hinge areas, top and bottom of the doors. Once the sealant is completely dry, you can repaint the doors.

Rehang the Doors

Once the paint is fully dry, rehang them onto their frames. Sometimes, the doors may stick because of the sealant, but you can fix this by adjusting the door jambs and sill until the door opens and closes freely. Remember to seal the wooden frame to prevent it from expanding and causing the door to stick.

Control the Moisture in Your Home

Because moisture is one of the causes of wood warping, use a dehumidifier to control the moisture content inside your home.

Conclusion

With a little bit of patience, you can fix your bowed wooden cabinet door in no time. Although fixing a warped door isn’t difficult, you can protect your wooden cabinet doors from warping by simply sealing them, repainting, and with proper installation.

Folks in Florida are well aware of the humidity issues in their homes. If you are struggling with warped cabinets, give us a call. Palm Beach Premier Remodeling has years of experience providing custom cabinets that will provide a new life to your home. Save yourself the time and effort with our professional team, schedule a consultation today.