Paint Peeling Off Manufactured Cabinets

      Troubleshooting a particulary bad case of paint peeling away from mass-produced kitchen and bath cabinets. December 23, 2014

Question
I know that moisture/water can damage painted cabinets doors. I went to look at a job today and the paint on the doors is peeling off mostly where there’s a joint. The worst is in the master bathroom. Those are Kraftmaid cabinets. We did not install them but we do sell it. I went to look at the job to see if I can do anything to fix/paint/touch up the damaged areas. The kitchen I think I can still get paint for it but the master bath I believe has been discontinued. The homeowner may want to repaint in a different color (don't know yet). So why is the paint peeling like that? Kraftmaid does use CV for their coating. Is it possible that it was a bad paint job? Maybe not using proper primer/sealer? What are the most common reasons for paint to peel off? We’ve dealt with a lot of painted cabinets and I have never seen anything that bad with Kraftmaid. Most of the damaged doors are sink base. The first two images are of the MB and the third is the kitchen. Also there’s no damage to the face frame.


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Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From Contributor S

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That's classic water damage. It happens then the finish cracks at joints in the wood (where rails and stiles meet) and moisture gets in the cracks. The moisture gets under the finish and causes the finish to peel. Any chips in the paint will also let water in. It looks like the doors get wet frequently judging by the peeling paint at the bottom inside by the hinge. The finish on cabinets under the sink and next to the dishwasher usually fails first.



From the original questioner:
That's what I'm thinking too. Maybe the homeowners are splashing a lot of water? Anyway I may have to re-paint those doors. I need to find out if I can still get the same color paint. If not hope they don't mind going with a lighter color.


From contributor M:
You should be able to get a local supplier to match those colors just fine. If you do re-finish them, prime them with white vinyl primer (catalyze it to the manufacturer's recommendations though if you topcoat with conversion varnish).


From contributor R:
Are they taking those doors in the shower with them?


From contributor C:
Is there a steam shower in that bathroom? Properly sized vent fan? Definitely water damage, but I would bet on them not using a vent fan during long hot or steam showers. It could have been made worse if you are located in cold climate.


From the original questioner:
"Are they taking those doors in the shower with them?" Looks like they do! Again I have never seen anything that bad. "You should be able to get a local supplier to match those colors just fine." Yes I will go and get a match if I cannot get the paint from Kraftmaid. I also will tell them that I will not guarantee the finish.

"Is there a steam shower in that bathroom? Properly sized vent fan? Definitely water damage, but I would bet on them not using a vent fan during long hot or steam showers. " I asked but they told me not much steam when taking showers. I'm going to check our color sample and see if they do have those colors. In the kitchen I might be lucky to just use touch up Mohawk aerosol can but the master I will need to sand the doors down to bare wood and start over.



From contributor N:
I just had the same problem with Kraftmaid off-white cabinets. The island sink has a raised panel back on it and it started peeling on the bottom against the tile. I think because I scribed it to the floor and belt sanded the edge and the finish no longer wrapped around the corner. When I washed the tile with water it got under the finish. Kraftmaid gave me a new panel and I kept this one off of the floor about 3/16 and filled the gap with matching silicone. Four months later this panel started to peel on the machined part of the raised panel and at other spots, some by a joint and some not by a joint. Kraftmaid just sent a repair guy out last week to repair it but I have not seen the repair yet. It seems to me by looking at the wood underneath that they might be sanding the wood to fine for this type of finish and not getting good adhesion. I think Kraftmaid has a lifetime warranty on their cabinets. It might be worth checking with a rep.


From contributor F:
I think Contributor N is right on the “too fine of sanding” theory. Many big production shops use some type of automated profile/flutter sanding equipment and the sanding wheels are not exactly cheap to change out so they tend to get used longer than they should. At the end of a shift the grit has worn out so much that it's polishing the doors rather than sanding them and this results in a surface that's too slick for the finish to bite into. This is more of an issue with some woods than others, hard maple is probably among the worst.



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