11 Common Kitchen Cabinet Issues and How to Fix Them

11 Common Kitchen Cabinet Issues and How to Fix Them

Cabinets and Countertops
By Dikran Seferian April 08, 2022

The kitchen is often the hub of the house. Whether it’s for preparing a meal or grabbing a snack, it is where we spend a good portion of our time. Those countless hours spent in the kitchen mean that the fixtures and appliances are constantly in use. One part of a kitchen that we use more than we think is cabinetry. The frequent opening and closing of cabinet doors can create a whole lot of issues such as broken latches and loose hinges, which can be quite irritating in many ways.

For instance, a cabinet door that won’t close all the way is not only inconvenient to use, but also tends to disturb an otherwise sleek aesthetic. Fortunately, these common problems usually have quick and simple solutions. With a couple of tools in hand, you can even take on the repair yourself. 

1. Drawer Slides Are Worn Out

Although many people swear by it, lubricants don’t fix worn-out drawer slides. So before you reach for the WD-40, you may want to consider a more lasting solution. Usually, it’s best to replace old drawer slides. Make sure, however, that the new slides you’re buying are as identical as possible. While home centers will typically have a limited selection, you may find a wider variety online. These websites will also have plastic mounting sockets that connect to the back of the cupboard, holding the drawer slides in place. 

2. Cabinet Door Is Crooked 

You can adjust crooked cabinet doors using European hinges as easily as turning a couple of screws. While other hinges adjust in two directions, these adjust in three. If the door isn’t in line with the ones next to it, try adjusting the depth screw. This shifts the door inwards or outwards. Certain depth screws even move the door as you're turning them. In most cases, however, you’ll need to loosen the screw, tap the door in or out, and tighten back the screw. If the hinges don’t consist of depth screws, try the side screws. These move the cabinet door sideways. Certain cases will require you to slightly loosen the depth screw in order to adjust the side screw.

Fix your crooked cabinet door in simple steps.

Fix your crooked cabinet door in simple steps.

3. Cabinet Doors Won’t Close Properly 

If the screws in cabinet hinges or drawer slides turn but don’t quite tighten this usually indicates a stripped screw hole. This can result in cabinet doors or drawers not closing properly. The solution is a simple fix using only glue and toothpicks. First, you’ll need to remove the components from the faulty cabinet. Dip a few toothpicks in wood glue and insert as many as possible into the hole — in many cases just two or three. Clean off any excess glue and allow it to dry. Using a utility knife, cut the toothpicks so that they are flush with the surface. Finish up by reassembling the components by using the filled hole to drive the screw.

4. Cabinet Doors Slam Loudly

Cabinets slamming loudly is the result of a wood hitting against the wood. It is why most of them have bumpers on the inside corner to help in cushioning the impact and minimizing the noise. These components, however, sometimes tend to fall off. If you have a cabinet door that slams loudly when you close it, you may need to buy a new set of bumpers from a home center. Simply stick the bumper in place after peeling off the backing. Since these items are available in a variety of thicknesses, make sure to use one that’s as thick as the ones on adjacent cabinets. If desired, you can even update to soft-close hinges!

5. Drawer Bottom Is Wavy

Drawer bottoms made of thin plywood tend to get wavy over time. If you seem to be having this issue with your drawer, consider reinforcing the bottom with a ¼ or ⅜-inch plywood board. Flip the drawer upside down and measure the bottom. Cut the board according to the measurements, leaving a gap of a quarter inch on each side. The next step involves applying wood glue to the drawer bottom and carefully setting the plywood over it. Set something heavy like a gallon of paint on the board to hold it down until the glue dries.

6. Cabinet Knobs Are Loose

When knobs start falling off cabinets, people tend to just twist them back on, thinking it would solve the problem. However, that’s only a temporary solution because the knobs will keep on coming loose. A dab of thread adhesive such as Loctite Blue 242 can hold them in place. Apply a small amount of the adhesive onto the screw and reattach the knob. Should you decide on replacing the knob, later on, you can simply remove it using a screwdriver. Consider looking for a different brand of adhesive, make sure it’s the removable type. 

Thankfully, loose cabinet knobs can be easily fixed!

Thankfully, loose cabinet knobs can be easily fixed!

7. Cabinet Finish Is Dull

Smoke and splattered grease from cooking can leave a layer of film on your cabinetry, causing the finish to become dull. You can restore the shine by washing the cabinets with a wood cleaner such as oil soap. Apply the product on a sponge and use it to rub the dull area. Many cleaners don’t even need to be wiped off afterward, cutting down your cleaning time. In the case of stubborn grease films — not the one starring John Travolta — substitute the sponge with a No. 0000 steel wool pad and gently scrub the affected area. Consider cleaning your kitchen cabinets on an annual basis to maintain their luster and protect the finish.

8. Drawers Falling Apart

Many drawers are held together using just a few drops of adhesive or short brad nails. Should you notice the corner of a drawer coming apart, it’s best to pull it out and fix it; when one corner starts to fail, the others will follow. You can avoid future issues by fixing all the faulty corners on the spot. Position a piece of scrap wood against one of the drawer’s corners and gently tap it using a hammer. Fix the corner if it splits open. If it doesn’t, it should be okay for now.

Fixing the corner involves removing the front side of the drawer if that’s possible. In many cases, the drawer fronts are secured with screws inserted from the inside. Take out the fasteners from the failing corner and strip away the old adhesive using a utility knife. Apply a layer of glue to the corner, pull the sides back together and use a clamp to hold them together until the glue dries.

Repairing a drawer corner on the spot prevents the entire unit from falling apart.

Repairing a drawer corner on the spot prevents the entire unit from falling apart.

9. Cabinet Door Won’t Stay Closed 

Many older cabinets have latches, also known as “roller catches”, that hold the cabinet door shut. A cabinet door that won’t stay closed can sometimes be due to a misaligned latch. These components are typically fastened to the cabinet with two screws, making it easy to replace one that’s damaged. It is also just as simple to adjust one if it’s misaligned. You may, however, need to readjust it more than once to get the right alignment. Simply loosen the screws to move the latch inwards or outwards and retighten the screws. Repeat the process if the door still doesn’t close properly. In the case of a broken roller catch, consider replacing the component. You can find these parts at your local home center. 

10. Cabinets Are Scratched

You can make scratches less visible using a wood fill stick (available at home centers). The stick essentially fills the scratch and colors over it. Consider softening the filler with a hairdryer to make it easier to apply. Next, use it to cover the scratch and wipe off the excess using a piece of cloth or a paper towel. The color of the filler probably won’t be the exact shade of the cabinet but it’ll be close enough for the scratch not to be easily visible. You can use the fill stick on both shallow scratches as well as deeper ones. 

11. Drawers Are Sticking

Sticking drawers usually have a simple fix that involves the use of a dry lubricant. First, take out the drawer and use a clean cloth to wipe the slides and the track, removing any debris. Apply the dry lubricant to the drawer slides. Place the drawer back in and slide it back and forth until it moves smoothly. Should the problem persist, consider replacing the slides. Unlike other types, dry lubricants don't have the disadvantage of leaving greasy residue that is known to attract dust and dirt. You can also use the product — which is available at home centers — on squeaky hinges.

Dry lubricant can help your drawers glide through the slides.

Dry lubricant can help your drawers glide through the slides.


Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian