Suggestions for how to fix large hole in laminate cabinet

18 Replies

Just had some tenants move out and leave a large hole in what was a brand new kitchen cabinet.  (See photos below.)  The cabinet is laminate over particle board, and the area where the hole is located is visible from pretty much the whole living area.

Looking for some creative ideas on how to fix this hole.  I have a couple ideas, but I'm not in love with any of them.  Any suggestions would be much appreciated. 

I think you will need to cut the hole so that the sides of the hole are straight.  Then fill the hole with a piece of particle board.

Then you will need to put a new sheet of laminate on each side.

Since you have two colors, you are stuck with buying 2 sheets of laminate.

Like Hugh suggested, you should be able to purchase decorative pre-finished end panels from your cabinet dealer and install on the outside of the cabinet. There should be a little lip or reveal edge along where the frame on the front of the cabinet meets the side wall, so when you install the 3/16" end panel it will wind up being flush (no lip or reveal). 

To give you an idea, here is a link for a full 4x8 sheet of finished cabinet grade plywood you could use -

Then, I would probably just use the remaining plywood that wasn't used on the outside, flip it around backwards, cut it, and install it on the inside up to the bottom shelf. If you didn't like the color difference on the inside, you could always install the wood-like "wallpaper" from the box stores that looks similar to the inside finish. 

The product in the link above is listed as 1/4" thickness, so you may want to check and make sure it wouldn't be too thick for your application on the outside of the cabinet.

Good luck!

Man, that stuff looks like paper rather than particle board.  I'm curious, what are your ideas?  Personally, I feel that there's absolutely no way of matching that vernier.  First, I would purchase a piece of 1/8" birch plywood and adhere it to the side with liquid nail.  Then, as far as the finish goes, that's where you'll have to make the tough decisions.  Going the cheap route, get your scrap pieces and try some different stains that get you close to that color.  You'll be able to zero in on the color, but you'll never get that glossy vernier look.  If you want the vernier, attempt at finding that particular one from the manufacturer of the cabinets or online.  Me, I'd be temped to let my mother  take over, and she would go in a completely different direction.  She's all crafty and such with some amazing chalk paint techniques.  To-do/grocery list board?

In short, my solution would be to fix it structurally, then get a woman's touch on the rest.

man that sucks @Kyle J. i would probably threaten to beat the crap out of the tenant (this is why im not good at landlording) after i calmed down i would probably take off the whole damaged side and buy new wood to stain and get it as close as possible 

Nothing will look great short of an entire panel.  I might try putting a piece of harboard--thin project board from home depot on the inside.  Spackle the outside with that with top of the line spackle hot-shot? That can be used on metal doors, etc.  it sands really nice and stays strong.  Then use gel stain, first on the area, then on the very last coat lightly, with a nice brush, the whole side panel.  GF has the largest selection of colors, they can be mixed and they are a finish coat because rhey are urethane.  If it looks bad you can wipe it off and retry.

Or if it looks like it is going to look horrible, leave the top half alone and find some sort of low profile pot hanger or tray sleeve or something to mount over the hole.

there is no good way to fix it properly without replace that whole side of the cabinet (at least  back to what it was). The problem is it is most likely a melamine and not actually a laminate from what i can tell. The fake wood veneer is thermally fused right to the particleboard and has virtually no thickness to it. You will be very hard pressed to match the exterior in a laminate (and even if you do, a sheet of laminate isnt particularly cheap.) Then you uave the inside to worry about, and i assume they knocked out some of your adjustable shelf pin holes, and recovering the whole inside face would cover those up.

 However you could get creative with it if it seems otherwise structurally okay. If it were my rental, I would strongly consider cutting the whole out square, and filling it with some uv prefinished maple or some other similar looking 1/2 inch ply with a clear cost from your local building supply store. Then you could get a piece of 1/4 " thick mdf and some cheap trim and some chalkboard paint, and create a framed chalkboard that completely covers the hole from the outside.

EDIT: I am an engineering manager at a cabinet and Millwork shop by day.

From the pictures it appears to be a nice property.  You could consider tiling that side of the cabinet and using the same tile as a backsplash.  Might be able to make it look nice if you could find a tile cheap enough to consider.

Thanks for all the suggestions and creative ideas. The ideas I originally came up with were:

1)  Replace the entire cabinet. However, I bought this property several years ago as a short sale and the previous owners (who are the ones who originally had the cabinets installed) didn't leave a forwarding address when they moved) and I have no idea where they purchased these cabinets from.

2)  Cut out the entire bottom 1/3 or so of the panel and replace it with a 3/8" thick piece of "A" grade plywood (the existing particle board is also 3/8" thick and sits in a groove so I was thinking I could take it out and pop the plywood right in), then stain it as close as possible to match and put a horizontal piece of trim on the exterior to cover up the seem where the new plywood piece will meet up with the existing panel.

3)  Cover the entire bottom 1/3 or so of the panel (inside and out) with 1/8" thick pieces of "A" grade plywood, then stain both sides as close as possible to match, and put a horizontal piece of trim on the exterior to cover up the seem where the new plywood piece will meet up with the existing panel.

*UPDATE:  I've been working on this all day and deciding what to do, and surprisingly I was actually able to track down a new address for the previous owners.  I paid them a visit and learned where they bought the cabinets from (Lowes).  Unfortunately, this one cabinet is over $1,200 and it is special order (3-4 weeks to get it).  So if go that route, it would obviously look the best but I'd be out $1,200 + that's an extra month it'd take me to turn the property over.

So I think I'm going to try and repair it first using one of the methods mentioned above and see how it comes out before I commit to spending that much money and extra time delay.  Thanks again and I'll try to post a photo of the end product (if it comes out looking good).  LOL

Did you keep the tenant's security deposit? Make sure you keep all receipts related to the fix, and charge them accordingly. Just make sure you can back up what you charged them, should they contest it. Take lots of pictures and document document document!

Because it's on the end (side) of the cabinet toward the bottom, if worse comes to worse, can you do some wainscoting of that bottom?  If need be, to better match the new theme, you could also add wainscoting to the kitchen counter (where stools would go) as a "kick" plate of sorts.

Wish I was kidding.  The exact price for this ONE cabinet is $1,213.96.  And that's with me picking it up and installing it. 

And yes, the tenant's security deposit was kept.  But unfortunately more is going to be owed.

Originally posted by @Lew Payne :

Because it's on the end (side) of the cabinet toward the bottom, if worse comes to worse, can you do some wainscoting of that bottom?  If need be, to better match the new theme, you could also add wainscoting to the kitchen counter (where stools would go) as a "kick" plate of sorts.

Funny, that was actually the first thing that crossed my mind when I saw this hole, but I couldn't find any stainable wainscoting in stock around me.  It was all paint-grade.  But I do like your idea, and especially the part about adding some to the kitchen counter area to tie it all in.

Now that you know where the cabinets came from, could you price a matching finished panel to put over that end? That would be much cheaper than the whole cabinet. Often on cabinets similar to this, the finished ends of cabinets will have panel that look similar to the doors. If you had 2 panels, matching the size of the doors on the cabinet, 1 high and 1 tall one below it could cover the hole from the outside.

 Jacob has a good suggestion -- this works very well, and will not look like a patch job.

Otherwise, for your $1,213.96, you could double up on stainless refrigerator/freezers...

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