Why Are My Kitchen Cabinets Cracking?

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Most kitchen cabinets, especially those made of natural wood products, are built to be durable, strong, and long-lasting. High-quality solid wood cabinets also seem to fit in every kitchen, with a classic design that seems to never go out of style. However, one drawback of wooden materials is that they can develop vertical lines or cracks over time.

So why do cracks show on wooden kitchen cabinets? Cabinet lines and cracks are caused by changes in temperature and humidity levels. The humidity in the environment of the kitchen can cause the wood to expand and contract, breaking down the layers of primers and paints and leading to the appearance of cabinet paint cracks and joint lines. Other possible causes are water damage, improper installation, moving the cabinets, and unprepared wood before painting.

5 Reasons Why You See Cracks On Kitchen Cabinets

Cabinet surface imperfections such as cracks and lines don’t just appear for no reason. Since the kitchen is one of the rooms in the house that experiences humidity changes and excess moisture in the air, the wood material undergoes a continuous movement of expansion and contraction which leads to cracked seams and joints.

These issues are more apparent on a painted piece of wood and they can be recognizable in both light and darker colors with glaze finishes.

Having such flaws on your kitchen cabinets can negatively affect the overall look and appeal of your room, which is why it’s important to understand what causes them to know how to prevent and fix them. Here are some of the possible factors that lead to cracks on your wooden cabinet:

1. Exposure to extreme moisture and temperature changes

The number one cause for the cracks on the wood center panel and cabinet doors is the changes in temperature and moisture content in the kitchen. As a natural product, wood materials will adapt to the environment in your home, which means that they’ll also respond to the changes in seasons and airborne moisture over time.

When humidity increases over summer and hotter months, there’s also an increase in the vapor in the air and wood will absorb this moisture which leads to expansion of the cabinet surface. Once cooler months come along, the humidity drops which then causes the wood to shrink or contract.

This constant movement of the wood eventually leads to kitchen cabinet paint problems. They appear as small gaps or hairline cracks at the panel doors, joints, or angles of the cabinet. You can avoid these painting issues by having appropriate humidity control in the kitchen. Ideally, you should maintain a 40-50% humidity level to prevent cracks.

2. Water damage

It’s hard to avoid water spills or stains on your painted cabinet surfaces, especially since the kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in the house. Unfortunately, even a small amount of water can ruin the quality and appearance of your wood once it gets absorbed. It can cause expansion of wood material, paint peeling or bubbling, or cracking of butt joints in the corner cabinets.

3. Poor installation of cabinets

Kitchen cabinet cracks can also show when they aren’t properly assembled and installed on your walls. As home furniture, your cabinets are carefully constructed and attached together by different types of joint such as butt joint, rabbet joint, dado joint, and corner joint.

Improper cabinet assembly and installation can affect the strength of your cabinetry joints and weaken the overall structure of your cabinets, leading to cracks and damage in the long run. You need to make sure that you are hiring skilled workers who can secure the joints and put up the cabinets properly to avoid cracking problems.

4. Moving or transporting the cabinets

When you have your kitchen cabinets delivered to your house, there’s a slight risk of developing cracks because they’re normally packed together and the weight of the cabinets can cause pressure on the surfaces.

There may be small dents, warped flat panels, or misaligned cabinet drawers due to the transportation stress during the shipping. Before transporting the cabinets, make sure to place a soft material between each item to avoid severe damage.

5. Not preparing the wood or cabinets before painting

Cracks on a section or entire panel of your kitchen cabinet can also occur when the wood was not treated or prepared before the finish painting process. Working on a dirty painting surface can eventually cause bubbling or cracking over time. Fresh paint won’t properly stick to wood that is clogged with loose particles, grease, and dust before painting.

It’s also not ideal to put paint over a wet surface because bubbles can easily form over the surface, which can then lead to peeling and cracks on your wood cabinet doors and panels.

Should You Repair or Replace Cracked Kitchen Cabinets?

Most paint cracks and joint lines on your kitchen cabinets can be easily repaired, especially if the doors, drawers, and panels are still intact. Here’s how you can fix cracked wood cabinet paint on your own:

  • First, you need to remove the door from the hinges.
  • Clean the flat panel and surfaces and make sure it is dry before removing any loose paint. You can use a putty knife to get rid of flaking paint.
  • Check for evidence of dry rot on the wood and remove it as well with a scraper.
  • Prepare the wood by sanding with 120-grit sandpaper or 220-grit sandpaper and then wipe away the excess dust.
  • Apply a small bead of paintable acrylic caulk on the cracks in the seams and exterior of the wood.
  • Smooth the caulk on the surface and wait for it to dry.
  • Once the caulk has settled, you can apply a primer coat on the repaired patch, let it dry, and use a paint brush to apply a color that matches the cabinet door.

What Type of Wood Should You Use To Avoid Cracks?

If your cabinets are showing other signs of damage aside from cracks, it could be better to replace them with new ones. For years, solid wood has been the choice of material for premium cabinetry but nowadays, many manufacturers have been using medium-density fiberboard or MDF. Here are the advantages of using MDF center panel or cabinets over classic wood:

  • It won’t easily contract or expand due to moisture or humidity fluctuations.
  • As an engineered wood, MDF is considered stronger and more durable since it consists of panels made from wood fiber, resin, and wax.
  • It doesn’t have any recognizable grain on the surface so you don’t need to worry about seeing paint finish issues.
  • They’re available in a variety of designs and styles so you can easily customize to achieve your kitchen cabinet preferences.
  • It’s also a cheaper alternative compared to solid wood cabinetry.

Let The Experts at Zothex Flooring Handle Your Kitchen Cabinet Problem

Like most household furniture, your kitchen cabinets are also susceptible to damage and cracks due to changes in humidity and natural wear and tear. If you notice multiple cracks on your cabinetry, you can easily repair them or go for a kitchen remodel and get new units.

At Zothex Flooring, we have a wide selection of high-quality and affordable kitchen cabinets with premium features and styles. We offer stock and custom-made cabinets to help you design your kitchen according to your liking. Feel free to browse our website to check our cabinet products or call us today at (916) 925 – 1958 to talk with our kitchen designers for help on your remodeling project.

Read More: Why Do Kitchen Cabinets Not Reach The Ceiling? 

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