How to Repair Peeling Melamine Cabinets

Lead Image
  • 2-6 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-350
What You'll Need
Painter's tape
Melamine glue
Cotton swabs
Small sponge brush
Paper towels

Melamine cabinets are popular in many western homes. It's an expensive material that tends to show wear and tear easily. The good news is most damage, including peeling and chipping, can be fixed without having to completely resurface the cabinets. Here's how you can repair this on your own.

Clean the Cabinet

You want to try to do this several days in advance. Cleaning the cabinet at least 3 days before you attempt the repair will allow the cabinet plenty of time to dry completely. You will be working with glues that won't adhere well to dirty or damp surfaces.

Cover the Hardware

If you aren't able to remove the hardware completely, you can just cover it with painter's tape. This is recommended only because the repair may take up a larger area than it appears, and this will protect the hardware from the glue.

Get the Right Glue

Most cabinets are made with an MDF core. This material is sturdy and will hold up well for cabinet applications. The problem is the material likes to suck up moisture. This needs to be taken into consideration when you purchase your glue. You want to find a glue that is formulated specifically for different materials. You can find glue specifically made for melamine at most home improvement stores.

Apply the Glue

The trickiest part of this repair is applying the glue to the whole surface without causing more damage. You want to carefully coat the surface of the cabinet under the peeling melamine. If the melamine is just starting to peel and it's a small area, you may want to use a cotton swab to get the glue under the melamine without pulling on it. For larger peeling areas, you can gently hold the melamine out slightly while you brush on the glue.

Clamp It Down

You will need to use a clamp to create the pressure necessary for the glue to bond. You can find clamps that have a rubber coating to protect the finish of the cabinet. If these aren't handy, you can fold up a soft paper towel to place on each side of the clamp. In most cases, you will only have to keep the clamps on for a few hours, but follow the suggestions provided on the glue for maximum adhesion.

Clean Up

Once the glue has cured you can remove the clamps. Any painter's tape can be removed at this point as well. If you took off the hardware you can reinstall it. It's not uncommon for the cabinet to start to peel in a nearby area once you've fixed one portion of the cabinet. Watch over the next few weeks, and repeat this process if another peel starts. It's much easier to fix when you first notice it than it is to let it go.