My wood laminate cabinets are peeling

Updated February 21, 2017

Over time, the laminate layer covering your cabinet may peel, leaving air bubbles on the cabinet surface or exposing the core layer of the cabinet. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may be able to repair the problem yourself using basic tools you can find at the local hardware store.

Laminate Conditions

The first step to take is to analyse the condition of the peeling laminate cabinets. Look at the part of the cabinet where the core layer is exposed. If the core of the cabinet seems structurally sound, you maybe able to easily repair the problem. However, if the core has swollen or crumbled, the cabinet may have gone past its useful life. You usually can't repair this problem and may have to replace the cabinet.


A layer of contact cement or glue usually attaches the laminate layer to the cabinet. If the laminate peels and the cabinet core is in good shape, you can often heat the laminate and the cabinet to reattach them. You can do this by running a hot iron over the peeling area and pressing the laminate against the cabinet. The heat reactivates the glue and adheres the laminate to the cabinet again.


If the heat does not reattach the laminate to the cabinet, you may need to apply new glue. You can get this product from a local hardware store. Use a putty knife or a fine-tooth hacksaw blade to sparingly apply the contact cement to both the underside of the laminate and the top of the cabinet. Use sticky tape to hold the laminate in place until the adhesive has set. If any adhesive comes out from under the laminate layer, use a chisel to remove it.

Replacing the Cabinet

Over time, your cabinets will come into contact with moisture, especially if you place the cabinets in a damp area, such as the kitchen or the bathroom. The water from cleaning or cooking may seep into the cabinets, causing irreparable damage. The core of the cabinet underneath the laminate may lose its shape if this happens. You can't usually reattach the laminate to the cabinet core, so you may have to replace the cabinets to fix the problem.

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About the Author

Edriaan Koening began writing professionally in 2005, while studying toward her Bachelor of Arts in media and communications at the University of Melbourne. She has since written for several magazines and websites. Koening also holds a Master of Commerce in funds management and accounting from the University of New South Wales.