How to Repair a Tambour Cabinet Door
Tambour cabinet doors are made using an antique woodworking technique that has come back into style in the last few years. Unfortunately, this roll top style of door is notoriously difficult to fix because most of their mechanisms are hidden within the cabinet itself. The steps below are meant to make the repair process on these doors easy enough for anyone to attempt.
Step 1 - Install a Counterweight or Magnet
If the problem with a tambour cabinet door is that it keeps popping open after it’s been closed, or it slowly creeps back up after being pulled down, there is an easy fix. A small counterweight or magnet can be installed on the back/inside portion of the door. If a weight is used simply glue or screw it to the inside of the door. If using a magnet, first attach a matching magnet or small metal plate to the bottom of the door and then secure another to the inside of the door directly above it. This way the door will stick to the bottom portion of the cabinet and remain there.
Step 2 - Remove the Door
If the slats are separating or are damaged, then the door must be removed. Roll the door all the way up and inspect the right and left door guides for screws or rivets and remove them on one side or the other. Once the screws are removed the guide on that side of the cabinet should come out and allow the door to be removed as well.
Step 3 - Place the Door Face Down and Repair
Cut or sand the fabric material off the back of the slats that need repair. If the slats were separating too much realign them closer together. If the problem is with damaged slats, remove the broken slats and replace them with new ones preferably in the same rows where the broken ones were originally.
Step 4 - Replace the Backing
Once the slats are back into the correct positions, a new fabric must be applied to hold them together. Any strong flexible fabric will work, but most use a canvas material that is similar to denim but white. The cloth can be applied as one piece that covers the entire back of the door or in strips. The important thing to remember is that room must be left on either side of the door so that it can fit back into the door guides. There are two methods to apply this canvas: with a heat seal or with glue. Heat seal material can be purchased at most fabric stores (it’s used to make patches) and must be applied to the slats beneath the canvas like material. Preheat an iron for 5 minutes on medium, then apply the iron to the top of the fabric. This will melt the heat seal and bind the fabric and slats together. If the glue method is used, carefully apply glue to the back of the slats and be extra careful to ensure that none runs into the crack of the slats where it can be seen. Once dry, the door will be ready for reassembly.
Step 5 - Reassemble Door
Feed the door back into the guide that remained on one side of the cabinet and roll it back up to it’s fully open position. Finally, replace the screws and door guide on the opposite side and test the door to make sure it can open and close properly. If the door sticks or will not close, the new backing may need to be trimmed on the sides so that the door can move through the guides properly.