How to Complete a Kitchen Cabinet Repair (DIY Guide)

Believe it or not, kitchen cabinets undergo a lot of wear and tear, which means that a lot can go wrong with your existing cabinets over time. Fortunately, you don’t have to invest in an entirely new kitchen remodel or an expensive kitchen cabinets repair for most of the issues you’ll come across.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the most common kitchen cabinet issues that homeowners come across and the simplest way to fix them yourself.

Getting Started With Your DIY Kitchen Cabinet Repairs

homeowner repairing the kitchen cabinet

As with most DIY home repairs, there’s a list of tools and materials you’ll need when it comes to fixing your kitchen cabinets. Depending on the issue at hand, you’ll likely need some of the tools and materials from this list:

  • A four-in-one screwdriver
  • Clamps
  • Cordless drill
  • Level
  • Circular saw
  • Miter saw
  • Rags
  • Utility Knife
  • Pieces of plywood — ½-inch, ¾-inch, and ¼-inch
  • Backplates (for knobs)
  • Brad nails
  • Drawer slides
  • Door bumpers
  • Magnet catch
  • Removable thread adhesive
  • Dry lubricant
  • Roller catches
  • Wood cleaner
  • Wood fill stick
  • Wood glue

Now let’s move forward with the various cabinet problems and repairs:

Problematic Doors

There are several reasons why your existing kitchen cabinets may not be closing correctly, and they have to do with the latches, roller catches, and hinges.

Replacing the Latches

Most cabinets come with magnetic latches installed into the frame. Over time, the magnets will stop working, causing your cabinet doors to pop open. To fix the issue, all you have to do is:

  • Move or adjust the magnetic catch using your four-in-one screwdriver.
  • Add a second latch to the door
  • Completely replace the existing magnetic latches (just make sure you take a photo or bring the existing latches with you to the hardware store so you don’t buy the wrong type!)

Replacing the Roller Catches

If your roller catch mechanisms no longer hold the cabinet door in place, it’s most likely because they’re worn out or bent out of place. Roller catches are actually another type of latch, so to fix them, you would simply purchase the correct type and install them using your screwdriver.

Replacing the Hinges

man using screw driver to install cabinets

Much of the time, your kitchen cabinet doors aren’t closing properly because the cabinet hinges are out of whack. This can cause the doors to become misaligned, which will keep them propped open. There are two solutions you can go with for THIS cabinet repair, depending on the condition of your cabinet hinges — and that’s to simply adjust the hinges or replace them.

To adjust hinges:

  • Use your drill to remove the hinge screws
  • Fill the screw holes with the wood fill material
  • Play around with the alignment to find a better position for the hinges
  • Drill new holes and reinstall the hinges

To replace your hinges:

  • Find the best replacement hinges for your cabinets and needs — it’s usually best to replace your hinges like-for-like
  • Remove the screws and old hinges
  • If the existing holes seem worn, enlarged, or stripped, fill them with the wood fill material and let it dry
  • You can redrill holes where the previous ones were or simply drill new holes slightly above or below

Cabinet Drawer Issues

When your cabinet drawers are feeling sticky or won’t open smoothly, there are several DIY repairs that can be carried out without breaking the bank for a cabinet replacement.

Sticky Drawer Glides

kitchen cabinet and drawer installation

There are a few reasons why drawer glides start sticking, so it’ll take a little investigating on your part to determine the solution. Your drawer glides may be bent, loose, dirty, or broken — all of which are easy to repair.

To fix bent glides:

  • Using a pair of pliers, gently try and nudge your draw glides back into the right shape
  • If the glides are stubborn, you may want to use a hammer in addition to your pliers to get them to move back into place

To fix loose glides:

  • Check the screws along the cabinet and drawer glide tracks
  • Tighten each screw along the glide tracks, being careful not to over-tighten them

To fix dirty Glides:

  • Using a simple household cleaner, gently wipe down the glides
  • Be careful not to strip away the oil on the glides, and apply the dry lubricant if you feel they need it

To fix broken glides (and slides):

  • Choose whether you want to replace all the hardware and upgrade the slides
  • Choose the new hardware and slides from a reputable brand that are specifically designed for kitchen cabinets
  • Remove the old slides/glides and hardware, patching up any holes
  • Install the new materials according to the manufacturer’s directions

Loose or Broken Knobs

Once the knobs fall off your kitchen cabinets, twisting them back into place won’t solve your problem. The good news is that loose knobs make for a great opportunity to give your cabinets an upgrade via new knobs or handles.

If you want to stick with your old knobs, all you have to do is use some thread adhesive to hold them in place. Just dab some of the adhesive onto the screw and reattach the knob.

To upgrade to handles for your kitchen cabinets:

  • Find the handles that suit your preferences
  • Remove the old knob and screw
  • Fill the hole with wood filler
  • Touch up the area with matching paint (you can take this opportunity to sand down your cabinets and repaint them all)
  • Install the new handles according to the manufacturer’s instructions

Busted Drawers

Most drawers are held together using glue or brad nails. If your kitchen cabinet drawers are coming apart, take the drawer out completely to see what you’re working with.

  • Remove the drawer front (if possible)
  • Remove any corner fasteners
  • Scrape away the old glue with your utility knife or remove the brad nails
  • Reglue the corner (or corners), clamping the drawer in place until the glue is dried
  • If brad nails were used, install new ones above or below the previous holes (don’t forget to fill the old holes!)

Consider Going the Professional Route

DIY kitchen cabinet repairs can be cost-effective, enjoyable, and rewarding. However, if you start to notice that most of your kitchen cabinets are having various issues, you may want to consider getting a professional opinion. 

JC Construction can help you figure out the best course of action when it comes to your old, dying kitchen cabinets. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our custom renovation services!