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Why Are My Kitchen Cabinets Stuck?

March 13th, 2024 | 4 min read

By Dianna Corsi

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Are you struggling with your kitchen cabinets sticking or not closing properly? It's frustrating when your cabinets no longer function.

At Custom Built Design & Remodeling, we understand the importance of a well-functioning kitchen and the impact that cabinet issues can have on your daily life. With over 20 years of experience in the remodeling industry, we've encountered and resolved countless cabinet-related challenges.

In this article, you'll gain insights into the common causes of kitchen cabinet problems:

  1. Warping or Swelling
  2. Improper Installation or Misalignment
  3. Wear and Tear
  4. Paint Build-Up and Debris Accumulation

1. Warping or Swelling

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One of the most prevalent causes of stuck cabinets is warping or swelling, often induced by changes in humidity and temperature. Too much moisture, like leaks or spills, can make the wood swell, making doors and drawers hard to open or close. This issue particularly impacts inset cabinets, where the door sits flush with the frame, and may result in gaps or overlapping.

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Example of Inset Kitchen Cabinets


Consider switching to cabinet doors made from materials less prone to warping, such as high-gloss acrylic or engineered woods like HDF (High-Density Fiberboard). These options offer increased structural stability and resistance to moisture-related issues.

2. Improper Installation or Misalignment

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Whether it's frameless or framed cabinets, improper installation can spell trouble down the line.

Frameless cabinets need to be installed with precise alignment because of their simple design. Unlike framed cabinets, there's less room for adjustments.

Any misalignment can cause issues with adjusting hinges and affect the cabinets' stability. So, getting the alignment exact during installation is vital to ensure that frameless cabinets work well and look good for a long time.

Framed cabinets are easier to adjust and usually stronger because they have more support from materials and hardware.


To fix kitchen cabinets that are misaligned or improperly installed, first, check where the problem is. Use shims to level and align the cabinets correctly.

Frameless cabinets need to be square when installed, while framed cabinets offer more flexibility for adjustments. Over time, you may need to adjust the hinges, especially for frameless cabinets. If the issues persist, consider getting professional help to realign or reinstall the cabinets.

3. Wear and Tear

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Age and usage play significant roles in the functionality of kitchen cabinets. Older cabinets can wear down over time, making doors misalign and drawer glides not work well. Newer cabinets have soft-close features that help them last longer by preventing slamming and reducing wear.


Regular maintenance and proper usage will help prolong the lifespan of your kitchen cabinets. Consider upgrading to soft-close mechanisms for older cabinets. This will mitigate wear and tear effects and enhance functionality.

4. Paint Build-Up and Debris Accumulation

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If your cabinets have been repainted, these additional paint layers can hinder the smooth operation of cabinet doors and drawers, leading to sticking and difficulty in opening or closing. Accumulated debris and lack of proper lubrication can exacerbate this problem, creating additional friction and resistance.


To prevent build-up and sticking, ensure your painted cabinets are properly cured before installation and place cabinet rubber bumpers on each opening corner. Regular cleaning and hinge maintenance will help keep cabinets operating smoothly.

Signs That Your Existing Cabinets Require a Full Replacement

  1. Visible Wear and Tear: If your kitchen cabinets show signs of damage like chipping, peeling, or extensive scratches, or if you notice water damage, mold, warping, or sagging, it's likely time for new cabinets.
  2. Hardware Problems: Malfunctioning hardware, such as broken hinges, warped drawer slides, or loose handles, can impact usability and safety. If fixing or replacing parts doesn't work, consider getting new cabinets.
  3. Outdated Design: If your cabinets are outdated, lack storage space, organization features, or modern conveniences like soft-close mechanisms, it might be time for a design update.
  4. Structural Issues: Shaky cabinets, cracked frames, shelves, or door panels signal structural problems that compromise safety. For stability, consider replacing weakened cabinets.
  5. Cosmetic Concerns: Faded, discolored, or mismatched cabinets affect your kitchen's appearance. If refinishing doesn't help, new cabinets can give your kitchen design a fresh look.
  6. Storage and Functionality: Cabinets that don't meet your storage needs or hinder kitchen workflow may need replacing. Consider taller units, deeper drawers, or custom storage solutions.
  7. Health and Safety: Cabinets with mold, mildew, or pest issues pose health risks. Cabinets with harmful materials like lead-based paint should also be replaced for safety.
  8. Energy Efficiency and Sustainability: Upgrading to eco-friendly materials and construction methods can make your kitchen more energy-efficient and sustainable.
  9. Renovation Projects: If you're remodeling your kitchen, new cabinets can help achieve your design goals and integrate modern features.
  10. Budget: While repairs may seem cheaper initially, investing in new cabinets can provide long-term value and durability. Consider your budget and long-term goals when deciding between repair and replacement.

Next Steps to Replacing Your Kitchen Cabinets

If you've been experiencing issues with your kitchen cabinets sticking or malfunctioning, you have felt the frustration it can cause in your daily routine. Various factors can contribute to these problems, from warping to wear and tear, making it essential to address them promptly.

In this article, you learned why your kitchen cabinets are stuck and how to respond to each issue.

At Custom Built Design & Remodeling, we've been helping homeowners overcome kitchen cabinet challenges for over 15 years. Our expertise in kitchen remodeling allows us to provide personalized solutions tailored to your specific needs and preferences.

If you're ready to tackle your kitchen cabinet issues and transform your space, contact our team of design-build professionals today. Let us guide you through the process and bring your vision to life. Explore our portfolio for inspiration and schedule a consultation to get started on your kitchen remodel journey.

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Now that you know more about why your kitchen cabinets are stuck, let’s explore how Custom Built will approach your project and how much your cabinets and luxury culinary oasis will cost:

Dianna Corsi

Dianna Corsi is a highly experienced professional with over 14 years in the remodeling industry. She has lived in the Greater Lansing area for the last 3 decades and currently resides in Okemos. Dianna specializes in kitchen and bath projects, and currently holds the roles of Project Advisor and Cabinet Specialist with Custom Built Design & Remodeling. With her extensive knowledge of the remodeling industry, she is able to provide her clients with high-quality services that enhance their experience.