How To Repair Chipped Paint On Kitchen Cabinets: Try this!

Did you know that from all rooms, the kitchen adds the most value to your house? This is where you’ll often end up entertaining friends and relatives, but also the first room potential buyers will check out. Needless to say, scuffed or chipped cabinets will unlikely win over a crowd. However, you don’t have to embark on a big makeover project. If the damage isn’t excessive, you should be able to fix the issue with minimal effort and investment.

To fix chipped paint on kitchen cabinets, repair the damage with caulk, then sand with a fine-grit sandpaper. Finally, touch-up with some kitchen cabinet paint. The secret is that of using the same paint color and finish your cabinets have. Otherwise, the touch-up will become an eyesore.  

5 Reasons Why Painted Cabinets Chip

When you buy kitchen cabinets, the last thing that comes to mind is paint chipping or peeling off the furniture. The same goes when you refresh the cabinets’ look with a fresh coat of paint. However, all painted cabinets can chip. Here are the most common reasons why.

Improperly Prepared Surface

One of the main reasons paint chips or peels, in general, is an improperly prepared substrate, and the same goes for your kitchen cabinets. If you haven’t cleaned and primed the surface before applying the first coat, the paint may not adhere properly.

Most issues arise when using oil-based paints on wood or when painting non-porous materials like MDF, PVC, or metal. 

A primer is a substance designed to adhere to the specific material you’re painting and to the paint you coat it with, creating a strong bond between the two. When you skip this step, the paint will chip or peel easily – especially if you apply a thicker coat. 

However, the primer may not adhere to greasy or dirty surfaces. For this reason, you should always clean the kitchen cabinets with a degreaser and dry them properly before applying the primer and a fresh coat of paint.

No Top Coat 

While the primer sticks the paint to the substrate, you must also protect the final paint coat. The kitchen is a high-traffic area where you use lots of sharp utensils. For this reason, it is essential to protect the paint with a clear top coat.

Friction from Loose Hardware

Loose hardware is not only annoying; it can damage the aspect of your kitchen cabinets. A loose hinge or handle can cause enough friction to damage the paint. It doesn’t even matter that you’ve used the best kitchen cabinet paint; friction can cause the paint to tear, chip, or peel. 

Luckily, solving this issue is easy – check the hardware regularly and make sure all fasteners are tightened. 

Two painted surfaces touching one another can also cause damages. For instance, the cabinet door coming in contact with the frame can cause the paint on these surfaces to stick together. As you open and close the door repeatedly, the paint layer will weaken, and it will eventually start to chip or peel.

To prevent this issue, you could either avoid painting the interior of your cabinets (if they are in good condition and only if you’re not planning a major color change) or gluing small pieces of felt to the inside corners of the doors and drawers if you painted both surfaces.

Moisture Damage

While improper prep and application can cause the cabinet paint to chip or peel, moisture is the number one enemy – and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the kitchen is one of the moistest environments in a house. 

Water damage can happen due to spills and splashes, but also because of inadequate ventilation or the absence of a kitchen exhaust fan. 

To prevent this issue, protect the cabinets with a waterproof top coat, dry out any spills or splashes as soon as possible, and install an exhaust fan or range hood.

Using the Wrong Paint Product

Something to remember when choosing a paint product for your kitchen cabinets is that not all paints were created equal. Wood paint won’t work on MDF and vice versa. Wall or plastic paint won’t work on metal, and so on.

Thus, you should always use a type of paint designed for the material your cabinets are made of. The same goes for the primer – pick one formulated for your specific surface, or it won’t adhere.

Things You Will Need

Peeled or chipped paint on kitchen cabinets may be impossible to repair if the damage is extensive. However, small chips and dents are easy to fix. Here’s a list of things you’ll need.

  • Soapy water 
  • Degreaser 
  • 320-grit sandpaper 
  • Wood (or MDF) filler 
  • Putty knife
  • Paint scraper 
  • Primer 
  • Paint (the same color and finish as your cabinets)
  • Paintbrush 
  • Paint roller
  • Rags 
  • Hard bristle brush

How To Fix Chipped Paint On Cabinets

Fixing chipped paint on kitchen cabinets is child’s play, but there are a few things to pay attention to if you want to ensure your project’s success.

Match Your Current Cabinet Color

Matching the new paint color to the current color of your cabinets is paramount if you don’t want to highlight the defect. The easiest way to do that is by writing down the paint name and color when you’re painting the cabinets. This will help you buy the same paint.

Another way to match the color is by writing down the RAL number if the color was custom-made. The RAL code is an internationally leading color standard for all professional users of color. The home improvement shop where you bought the paint can provide you with the RAL number of the shade they’ve mixed for you. 

Alternatively, if you don’t have any of the info above but still have some leftover paint somewhere in a jar, you can take a sample to your local home improvement store and ask them to match it. Most stores use equipment that can determine the exact color of your paint and mix it for you.

Choosing Right Paint Sheen 

The paint sheen refers to the paint finish, which can vary from matt to eggshell, satin, or glossy. Most kitchen cabinets have a satin or semi-gloss finish, although glossy finishes are also popular.

No matter what finish your cabinets have, make sure to choose a matching sheen. Otherwise, the touch-ups will become more visible.

As a general rule, you should steer clear of flat and glossy finishes when painting your kitchen cabinets. Matt paint is the least resistant, whereas glossy sheens are durable but highlight all brush strokes and imperfections.

Satin and semi-gloss are both durable and maintain their good look even after you’ve touched up a scuffed or chipped area.

Repairing Peeling And Chipped Kitchen Cabinets

Before touching up the damaged areas, you should repair the kitchen cabinets. Simply follow the quick steps below.

Step 1 – Scrape Away Any Loose Edges 

When the paint on your kitchen cabinets chips or peels, it generally leaves loose edges behind. These loose edges can lead to further peeling or chipping and must be dealt with promptly – although you could paint over, they’ll be visible under the new coat of paint. Use a paint scraper to scrap the edges until the surface is smooth. 

Step 2 – Remove Loose Paint

Paint flakes can also compromise the success of your project, so you should remove them. All you have to do is brush the damaged area with a hard bristle brush. Don’t press too hard – the purpose is to remove the paint bits that are already loose, not to peel or chip off other bits of paint.

Step 3 – Fill with Caulk 

Applying a coat of paint over a chipped area is easy, but you’ll be able to see the difference between the old and new layers. To fix this, fill the chipped area with caulk or wood filler. 

Apply a small quantity of product on a putty knife and spread a thin layer across the damaged area. Keep the layer as thin as possible so you won’t have to sand away too much material. Let the filler dry for about 45 minutes.

Step 4 – Sand the Surface

Use fine-grit sandpaper to remove any excess filler and level the surface. Depending on how big or small the area is, you can sand manually or use an oscillating sander. Grind down the filled area until it’s flush and smooth with the surrounding paint.

Step 5 – Check for Smoothness 

Run a bare hand over the repaired area to check if the patch is blended with the surrounding paint. Remember that any defects will be highlighted by the glossy finish of the paint. Although flat paint could mask the defects (as long as all cabinets already have a flat sheen), this finish is rarely used in kitchens. If the surface isn’t smooth, sand some more until you achieve the desired result.

Paint Touch-up: Step by Step Guide

After you have repaired the damaged area, as explained above, it’s time to do the touch-ups. We emphasize once more that you must use the color and finish of your kitchen cabinets.

Step 1 – Clean the surface

Paint products only adhere to clean surfaces, so it’s essential to wipe away any dust and remove grease residues.

Use a soft rag and warm soapy water to clean the cabinets. If there are stubborn grease stains, use a degreaser to clean them. Wipe with a dry rag and let the surface dry completely before proceeding.

Step 2 – Apply the primer

Many people skip this step when doing touch-ups, but it is essential to provide a sound base for paint to adhere to. Caulk isn’t exactly wood or MDF, so the paint can chip again after a while if you don’t use a primer.

Apply the product with a paintbrush and let it dry for about two hours before applying the paint.

Step 3 – Paint the damaged area

Once the primer is dry, apply a thin layer of paint with a paint roller. Although you could use a paintbrush, covering a small patch without leaving streaks behind is difficult. A paint roller provides a smoother application.

Let the paint dry and inspect the patch. If the coat provides good coverage, you can skip to the next step. Otherwise, apply a second coat and let dry.

Step 4 – Sand again

When the paint is dry, sand the surface with very fine-grit sandpaper, preferably over 400. The purpose is to level the patch flush with the rest of the paint without damaging the color. While this operation will dull the finish, the top coat will give the final touch.

Step 5 – Protect with top coat

When the surface is flush, wipe the excess dust with a dry rag and apply a thin layer of clear top coat. Choose a top coat with a satin or semi-gloss sheen, depending on your cabinet’s finish. 

You could either apply the top coat with a brush or use an aerosol. The latter is recommended since it helps you apply the product without imperfections.

How To Prevent Painted Cabinets From Chipping: 7 Effective Ways

Maintaining your painted cabinets in good condition and preventing chipping is more effective than repairing a chipped area and touching up. Here are a few tips to follow.

Always clean and dry the surface before painting

All paint products adhere to clean surfaces, so you should always wipe away the dust and wash the surface with soapy water before painting. Let it dry completely before applying the paint, or the moisture could prevent the paint from adhering properly.

Use primer

We said it before and say it again: priming is key to a durable finish. For the best results, use peel bonding or peel stop primer.

Choose the right paint

Pick a paint designed for the cabinet’s material. In addition to material compatibility, also pay attention to the sheen. Semi-gloss is the best choice for kitchen cabinets.

Apply top coat

Protecting the paint with a top coat is another essential step many DIYers forget about. Ideally, the top coat you use should be waterproof.

Tighten the hardware

Prevent scuffs and chipping due to hardware friction by checking the knobs, handles, and hinges and tightening them if needed.

Deal with any spills as soon as they happen

Even if the top coat you’ve used is waterproof, water can still infiltrate and damage the paint. For this reason, you should always deal with any spills and splashes as soon as they happen.

Install a range hood 

To keep humidity in your kitchen to a minimum, consider installing a range hood or extractor fan if you don’t have one already. In addition to protecting your cabinets, extractor fans also remove cooking odors and fumes from your environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

We told you how to repair chipped paint on kitchen cabinets, but do you still have questions? Find out some answers below.

Do factory-painted cabinets hold up?

Yes, factory-painted cabinets hold up as well as stained or laminated cabinets. Factories use advanced painting techniques to achieve a durable finish.

Is it better to roll or brush paint cabinets?

Rolling is usually recommended if you’re using flat, satin, or semi-gloss paint. The roller doesn’t leave brush marks and generally provides a smoother finish. However, the fabric on the roller could leave an orange peel-like texture on glossy finishes.

What is the best paint finish for kitchen cabinets?

Semi-gloss is the best paint finish for kitchen cabinets. This sheen type is polished enough to ensure durability and an easy clean but not glossy enough to highlight imperfections. Eggshell and satin are other beautiful finishes, but they won’t last as long as semi-gloss.


Repairing chipped paint on kitchen cabinets isn’t hard, but you have to follow all the steps above to ensure a streamlined finish. Otherwise, you’ll be able to see ugly marks after the fix-up.

Have you ever fixed chipped paint on cabinets? Do you have questions or tips? Leave us a comment.

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