Water Damage To Cabinets – How To Repair It?

Water damage to cabinets is a common problem in households.

It majorly occurs due to leakage of water pipes and incomplete drying of water.

You can repair water damage by drying the cabinets, sanding the cabinets and applying filler, and polishing.

So in today’s edit, we will share the causes of water damage, changes occurring in Wood due to water damage, and how you can repair and prevent it.

Changes in Cabinets due to Water Damage

an image of water damaged cabinet

Changes in cabinets due to water damage occur within 4-5 weeks, but within initial days, you will see the following changes.

1.      Swollen Cabinets

Wood is a water-loving material. It imbibes water and stores it in its cellulose structure.

Because of this water storage, the cells start to swell up, which as a result, swells up the entire cabinet.

But how to tell if your kitchen cabinet is swelling up?

You can tell that your cabinet is being damaged by water when it gets stuck by opening it, or in severe cases, you will notice its distorted shape.

If the water damage to cabinets is being held for a long time, there would be a bubbled wood on the affected side.

2.      Chipped Wood

If your cabinet wood is laminated, you will notice that its layers will start to chip off.

You can see puffed layers of Wood in extreme plywood damage to cabinets.

Not only did the wood chip off, but also the colour started to bubble up in painted cabinets.

If you’ve covered your cabinet in vinyl sheets, it also laminates off because of severe water damage.

3.      Change in Color

In the initial days of water damage to cabinets, they will change colour when they soak up water.

If your cabinets are of lighter colour, the colour change is very noticeable, whereas, in darker tones, it will take time to see the difference.

4.      Crumbling Edges

Because of water leakages from the pipes, the corners and edges of the cabinets are the first to get damaged.

Because of this, the Wood in these corners starts to swell initially and then crumbles later.

The Wood in the cabinets keeps shedding until the water damage is stopped.

And if not, it travels to the core of the cabinets.

5.      Musty Odor

Another convenient sign of water damage to cabinets includes the musty odour coming from the cabinets.

The continuous imbibition of water promotes the growth of bacteria, especially in a closed environment.

The growth of bacteria and fungi in the moist and dark environment produced a musty odour in the cabinets.

This odour occurs to form the various secretions of bacteria and fungi.

Related Reading: How Long Does It Take To Install Kitchen Cabinets – Click Here To Find Out.

Causes of Water Damage to Cabinets

Water damage doesn’t occur spontaneously, so that the following causes could result in damage to cabinets.

Water Leakage

The apparent cause of water damage to cabinets is water leakage to pipes.

When pipes get damaged due to holes in them, the water seeps out near cabinets.

If you notice any wood swelling, check the pipes’ leakage.

o   Under the sink

o   Leak in a broken refrigerator

o   Ice maker

o   In faucets

Constant Water Use

Consistent water splashing on wooden cabinets can cause them to swell and distort.

Ways to Repair Cabinets Damaged with Water

an image of repairing kitchen cabinet

Water damage to cabinets is repairable when the damage is to a certain extent.

Here’s how to manage and repair damaged cabinets.

1.      Assess the severity of the damage

Empty the cabinets and assess the extent and degree of damage.

The damage is reparable if the cabinets only have a musty odour and swelling.

Still, if the Wood is starting to crumble, the damage is hardly reparable and needs replacement.

2.      Find the source of damage.

Check all the water pipes around the cabinets to identify the cause of water seeping into the cabinets.

Once the cause is known, repair the cause to prevent further leakage.

3.      Dry the cabinets

After assessing the severity of the damage, empty the cabinets and let them air dry for a few hours and, in severe cases, up to days.

Suppose the water damage is minimal.

The cabinets will be back to normal, and you will need a few repairs in moderate cases.

For quick cabinet drying, use dehumidifiers or thick high water-absorbing towels to dry your cabinets within 4-5 days.

4.      Sites of damaged cabinets

Sites of cabinets also matter in the extent of repair possible.

For example, if the vertical half of the cabinets is damaged, you might need to replace the entire cabinet doors.

But if only the bottom half is affected by water, you can return the bottom half only.

5.      Repair of delaminated cabinets

If the layers of Wood are swollen in the delaminated cabinets, apply the spreading glue in those layers and close them tightly with c-clamps.

Leave them overnight, and your cabinet will be better.

You can sand and paint it down to further improve the look.

6.      Repair of wood kitchen cabinet

Following is the step-by-step method to repair wood kitchen cabinets

·         After drying the cabinets, apply a top coat of shellac- a primer on them.

·         Then, place wood filler on the damaged and hollow areas of cabinets to mend them.

·         When the wood filler dries, sand it down for an even surface.

·         Then use 120-grid sandpaper to smoothen the surface.

·         Re-stain the cabinets and sand them again with 220- grid sandpaper

·         Clean it and seal the entire cabinet with waterproof varnish.

7.      In difficulty, consult a specialist.

If you think the water damage to cabinets is too severe, consult an expert carpenter for further evaluation.

Methods to Prevent Water Damage to Cabinets

an image of water damaged cabinets

Prevention is better than cure, so here’s how to prevent damage to your cabinets with water.

·         Check the pipes for leakage often

·         Do not keep wet things in your cabinet

·         Apply a topcoat of waterproof varnish on your cabinets

·         Keep them dry

·         Make sure to clean excessive water around them

·         Keep water-absorbing mats under the sink.

Related Reading: How To Remove Kitchen Cabinets – Click Here To Read.

Water Damage to Cabinets – FAQs

Is it easy to repair cabinets damaged by water?

It is easy to repair the water damage to cabinets when the Wood is only swollen or discoloured.

Which material is resistant to water damage to the cabinet?

Plywood is pretty water resistant and can prevent damage to cabinets due to water for a long time.

How long does a cabinet take to dry after water damage?

Depending on their severity, it takes four days to 4 weeks for the cabinets to dry from water damage.

How fast the cabinet swells with water?

High hydrophilic Wood starts to swell up between 6 hours to three days of constantly absorbing moisture.

How to protect cabinets from water damage? 

The easiest way to protect the Wood from water damage is by applying a layer of waterproof varnish as a topcoat. 

Can particleboard cabinets be repaired due to water damage? 

If particleboard cabinets get severely damaged, you cannot repair them. 

Related Reading: How To Keep Painted Cabinets From Chipping – Click Here To Find Out:

Final Words

In today’s edit, we shared a detailed guide on water damage to cabinets, changes that occur due to it, and methods to repair it.

When cabinets become damaged with water, they become swollen, colour changes, and a musty odour appears.

Water damage occurs due to leaking pipes and incomplete drying of cabinets.

To repair the cabinets, you must dry them thoroughly, fill the holes, sand them, and seal them with varnish.