How To Keep Paint From Peeling Off Cabinets

Maintaining the cabinetry throughout your house isn't always easy. Are you struggling with peeling paint on your cabinets and don't know how to stop it? Is there a product you can use to prevent peeling? Luckily, we've done plenty of research into these questions and have the answers below!

If you notice the paint peeling off your cabinets, the best thing to do is sand and repaint the cabinet and seal it with a top coat. With a topcoat, your cabinets shouldn't peel or chip. Many experts recommend a clear top coat, as it will protect your cabinets while keeping them the same color.

In this article, we will discuss peeling cabinetry and how to prevent it. Whether you're new to painting, have older painted cabinets, or need other tips and tricks, we're here to help. 

Why Is The Paint Peeling Off My Cabinets?

Water damaged high gloss white MDF bathroom vanity cabinet door with molding

Paint tends to peel off cabinets because the surface was not correctly cleaned and prepped before applying the paint. Generally, you'll need to clean and sand your cabinets before painting them.

Skipping these steps and painting a cabinet that hasn't been properly prepped can lead to issues like peeling.

Before painting, you should wipe down the cabinet with a clean rag. From there, you need to sand down any imperfections. You can then use a damp sponge with soap to remove residue or dirt. The cleaner the cabinet, the better it will take paint.

How Do I Prevent My Cabinet Paint From Peeling?

A handyman applies a first coat of wood primer on the end panel of a cabinet

One of the best ways to prevent cabinet paint from peeling is using a topcoat to seal the surface. Doing this gives your cabinet front-line protection against everyday wear and tear. With a clear top coat, your cabinet color will shine through while staying protected from the surrounding elements.

Cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom can be tricky because they experience higher traffic, moisture, and temperature fluctuations. However, with a topcoat, your cabinets will have a better chance of staying intact over the next few years.

Note that if you're painting your cabinets for the first time or want to redo them, make sure to use a primer too. A primer and a topcoat can work as a team to protect the integrity and color of your cabinetry. Using both will almost always give your paint a smoother look.

What Type Of Topcoat Should I Use For My Cabinets?

Black handles vintage style on black kitchen wooden cabinets

One of the best formulas for cabinet top coats is polyurethane. Since polyurethane holds out better against wear and tear, using it to seal your paint is a great idea.

Using polyurethane for your kitchen/bathroom cabinetry will prevent chips and scratches. As long as you properly clean and prep the cabinets before painting, polyurethane should keep them smooth throughout their lifetime.

According to Harrington Kitchens, even if your cabinets are damaged, they can be re-sprayed/painted and sealed with polyurethane.

This is far cheaper than replacing the cabinets or having to strip, repaint, and re-seal them. Think of polyurethane as a clear, glossy finish for the surfaces in your home—cabinets or beyond.

Follow this link to view this polyurethane on Amazon.

What Type Of Primer Should You Use For Cabinets?

You want to stick to an oil-based formula when it comes to the best type of primer for cabinets. Moreover, an oil-based primer will hold out better against damage than a water-based option. Another benefit of oil-based products for the kitchen and bathroom is that they repel moisture very well.

According to design experts, oil-based priming products provide a good base for the first coat of paint. With this formula, you can almost always expect a long-lasting, peel-free paint finish.

It's also worth mentioning that oil-based primers are thicker than water-based ones, making them more durable. Your cleaning routine may be easier with oil-based products, which you can wipe down with soap and water.

So, for the higher-traffic cabinets in your home, we'd recommend sticking to oil-based primer.

Can I Paint Over Peeling Cabinet Paint?

Peeling cabinet paint

Unfortunately, it's not a good idea to paint over peeling cabinet paint. Although it may seem easier to grab a brush and get to covering, doing this can lead to an uneven final look.

Especially if the peeling is severe on cabinets, trying to paint over them will likely lead to more peeling. Instead, the best way to tackle this is to remove the existing paint from the cabinets entirely.

Once you do that, it might be a good time to sand down any uneven or damaged cabinet sections. Next, try and grab an oil-based primer and cover the entire surface of your cabinets.

This will offer a smooth surface for your paint to adhere to. Without primer, you risk the color going on unevenly or not sticking to the cabinet. When that happens, peeling, flaking, and streaking are almost always imminent. 

As we mentioned above, this can give them a smooth finish and protect them from your hands and other moisture in the kitchen and bathroom. The more protection, the better.

How Many Coats Of Paint Do Cabinets Need?

How many coats of paint do cabinets need, How To Keep Paint From Peeling Off Cabinets

Most times, cabinetry will need two coats of paint. Depending on the formula you use, one coating may be sufficient, although this is taking a bit of a risk.

Generally, it's better to use two coats for any surface in a home, as this ensures the color goes on and covers the surface beneath. Especially for the kitchen and bathroom, your cabinets need a thick, even coating of paint if you want them to last.

On top of that, it's a good idea to use a paint with built-in primer if you do not want to apply one separately. With that formula, you may get away with one thick coating.

Regardless, you'll need to seal your coat of paint with a topcoat, like polyurethane, so that should also protect the color from damage over time. It's also possible to use too many coats of product on cabinetry, so don't go over two.

Three or more paint coats will likely leave your cabinet's paint uneven and chunky, which you want to avoid.

What Paint Should I Use On My Cabinets?

What paint should i use on my cabinets, How To Keep Paint From Peeling Off Cabinets

When it comes to cabinets, you want to use latex or hybrid enamel paint. Typically, latex paints will have a water base but should hold out against the elements and traffic with the addition of a topcoat. Because latex paint is water-based, you can also expect less odor.

Hybrid enamel paint is another excellent choice. You can expect hybrid enamel paint to respond well to moisture.

Another benefit of hybrid enamel paint is it won't be as potent compared to alkyd or fully oil-based paint, which is helpful to those with sensitivity.

You can also choose an oil-based cabinet paint, but expect a long dry time and higher VOCs. That's because your oil-based paint is far thicker than enamel or latex, which is ideal for high-traffic places like a kitchen or bathroom.

If possible, try and use a thicker formula and open the windows throughout your home while it dries. You will get the benefits of a thicker oil-based formula without the extreme odor and headaches.

To Finish It All Up

Whether you have peeling cabinets or want to repaint your current ones, it's always good to know how the process works. We found that applying a topcoat after painting is the best way to keep paint from peeling off a cabinet.

Specifically, using a polyurethane formula for the topcoat and a high-quality oil-based primer might be best. The more prep you do to your cabinets prior to painting, the better the paint can adhere.

Without properly cleaning, sanding, and priming, your cabinets are more likely to chip, peel, and experience other forms of damage.

And while we have your attention, check out these helpful related posts below!

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