How to Repair a Mobile Home Cabinet's Finish

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Refinishing is the best way to repair a laminate cabinet finish.
Refinishing is the best way to repair a laminate cabinet finish. (Image: modern kitchen with cabinets image by redking from Fotolia.com)

Mobile homes generally have laminate cabinets, which have a dark vinyl covering over inexpensive particle board that can easily be damaged by normal use.Because of the construction of these cabinets, gouges and scratches cannot be sanded down and refinished like wood cabinets. This construction makes a flawless repair nearly impossible. The best course of action for the repair of the finish is to refinish the entire cabinet.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill
  • Tarps
  • Painters tape
  • Solvent
  • Sandpaper
  • Belt sander
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paint thinner
  • Paint brushes
  • Mask

Remove the cabinet doors to be refinished and place them in the area you intend to do the work. If also doing the cabinet framework, prepare the surrounding area by covering or taping anything you do not wish to have paint on.

Remove the hardware, such as handles and pulls.

Clean the surface to be refinished thoroughly. John Dee with This Old House suggests a strong solvent such as xylol to remove all dirt and grease effectively.

Rough up the surface. Use a coarse sandpaper such as 150 grit and sand by hand or using a belt sander. According to HammerZone, the idea is not to sand away the vinyl, but to provide some texture to which the primer can adhere.

Clean with solvent a second time to remove any dust or debris caused by sanding.

Apply a primer. This is especially important if the cabinets are dark in color and you wish to repaint with a lighter color. Spray-on primers tend to work better than brush-on primers, according to John Dee.

Paint with your choice of oil-based or latex paint. Experts generally recommend that a semi-gloss be used for cabinets as it cleans up nicely.

Allow paint to dry completely before replacing the hardware and rehanging.

Tips & Warnings

  • You should do projects involving sanding and fumes outside a mobile home because it provides better ventilation.
  • If the laminate face on the cabinet is peeling off the particle board backing, you can take a knife and shave off the remainder of the vinyl. However, this will require resurfacing the particle board, which is time consuming.
  • Wear a face mask when sanding on laminate to avoid inhaling harmful particles and when using paint to keep from inhaling fumes.

References

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