To Repair or Replace? Smoke Damage Kitchen Cabinets

Moshe Amos

Smoke damage can occur during a fire or in a non-fire situation. Whether the fire starts in the kitchen or not, this space often takes the most damage. Smoke damage affects every aspect of the kitchen, from the doors, floors, ceilings, and worktops to cabinetry, drawers, utensils, appliances, and furniture like dining tables and chairs.
While you can have some items cleaned to remove the soot, others can suffer from serious smoke damage and require repair or replacement. Once you assess the damages, you need to decide whether to repair or replace your smoke-damaged kitchen cabinets. The options are not just limited to either repairing or replacing the cabinets. You may also choose to custom-build the units and end up with a more stylish look after the damage.
Let’s look at what you can do to recover from fire damage in your kitchen cabinets.

What To Expect From Fire Damage In Your Kitchen Cabinets

The decision to replace or repair your fire-damaged kitchen cabinets depends on how severe the fire was. A small fire will usually cause no structural damage to your home, and you’ll only need to clean the soot and remove the smoke odor.
Keep in mind that smoke also causes damage to your kitchen cabinets, such that the smell remains even after refinishing or repainting them. In this case, you will need to replace your cabinets for safety.
Replacement is the best solution if there is more fire damage to your kitchen cabinets, like scorching or warping. Get a professional kitchen restoration expert to handle the cabinet replacements, especially if your kitchen has one-of-a-kind cabinets.
An expert will help you determine if you can sell your older cabinets or where to source reasonably priced replacement cabinets.

Four Steps to Take After Fire Damage in Your Kitchen Cabinets

Here’s what you should do to save your kitchen cabinets following a fire incident.

Step 1: Your Safety Comes First

Your kitchen restoration cannot start until your kitchen becomes safe to enter. Wait until the fire department and local building officials give the all-clear to reenter your home.
After that, take the following additional precautions:

  • Call your insurance provider

Notify your homeowner insurance company about the fire and find out what proof or documents they’ll need for your claim. Take as many photos and videos as possible before you begin any kind of restoration. This serves as evidence for your insurance claim.

  • Wear the right gear

Avoid short-sleeved shirts, shorts, and open shoes when you enter the kitchen. Wear goggles and a face mask to protect you from residual soot and smoke.

  • Ventilate the kitchen

Keep all the doors and windows open in the kitchen to get rid of any remaining smoke. If other rooms were not affected by the fire damage, keep their doors closed. Otherwise, smoke and soot will spread into those areas.

  • Discard exposed food

Soot is harmful when ingested, so throw away any edible items from the kitchen after the fire.

  • Salvage what you can

Remove any kitchen items and furniture that survived the fire relatively unscathed. Discard badly damaged items and set them aside for your kitchen renovation experts to assess.

  • Dry the kitchen

Remove the excess water used in the firefighting process. Use mops, fans, and dehumidifiers to ensure that the surfaces and items are dry before tackling the soot stains.

Step 2: Check the Surface Damage

Once the kitchen is dry and well-ventilated, look at the walls, floor, cabinets, and other areas. Some surfaces may still have soot, which you can wipe easily. Others may experience extensive damage by soot, scorching, and water beyond recognition. This initial damage assessment comes in handy when you contact your kitchen renovation expert.
Of course, what you may find irreplaceable can be restored and vice versa. Let your kitchen renovation team have the final word on whether to replace or repair your fire-damaged kitchen.

Step 3: Clean as Much as You Can

Soot and smoke are the two main things to tackle after a kitchen fire. Soot is particularly difficult to clean because it leaves an oily stain from burned plastics.
Choose a potent cleaning agent like TSP (trisodium phosphate) to clean soot off the walls, shelves, and cabinets. Also, clean your fridge’s condenser coils, rubber gaskets, appliance handles, and other kitchen hardware.
Smoke odors linger long after a fire is out. It’s best to vacuum your entire house and wipe down surfaces, even in the rooms that remained untouched by the fire. Use baking soda or a water and vinegar solution as a homemade deodorizer. If this doesn’t work well, look for a commercial deodorizer to handle the smoke smell.

Step 4: Call in The Experts

Up to this point, you’ve done the best you can after the kitchen fire. You have collected photo and video evidence for your insurance claim cleaned the soot and water off the cabinets and surfaces, and put severely damaged items aside.
Now is the time to contact a professional kitchen restoration company. In addition to a thorough damage assessment and help with your insurance claim, your kitchen restoration team offers:

  • Thorough soot, smoke, and water damage cleanup
  • Deodorizing walls, floors, cabinets, upholstery, and ceilings
  • Hardwood floor replacement or restoration for your kitchen
  • Kitchen cabinet replacement or repair
  • Complete kitchen renovation if required

Choose a kitchen restoration company with the experience and equipment to handle smoke damage and fire damage to your cabinets, floors, walls, and appliances.

When to Replace or Repair Damaged Kitchen Cabinets

Ultimately, the decision to replace or repair smoke-damaged kitchen cabinets is between you and your kitchen restoration partner. However, consider replacing your cabinets if:

  • A strong smoke odor lingers in the cabinets long after the fire
  • There’s mold in the cabinets due to water damage in the firefight
  • The cabinets no longer close or hold their contents safely
  • The cost of repair is greater than the cost of replacing the cabinets

Repair and restoration work best if your cabinets are still largely functional and have only surface damage from soot.

High-Quality Kitchen Renovation With NYTDR

New York Total Damage Restoration (NYTDR) is your best choice, regardless of the fire damage. NYTDR understands that fire, smoke, and water from the firefighting efforts can cause severe damage to your kitchen cabinets and your home in general. That’s why NYTDR services aim to give you the peace of mind you deserve and a kitchen restoration to last you for decades.
NYTDR offers fire damage restoration services that include:

  • Insurance inspection and evaluation: We document everything on your property affected by smoke, soot, fire, water, or mold.
  • Inventory, sorting, and disposal: We work with you to identify what we can save in your fire-damaged kitchen or needs replacement. We also safely dispose of items that are too far gone or unsafe for use, such as asbestos, lead, or mold-damaged objects.
  • Customized cleaning and restoration techniques: We match our cleaning methods to the extent of fire damage in your kitchen cabinets. That said, NYTDR cleaning and restoration products are environmentally friendly to safely sanitize your kitchen cabinets, upholstery, floors, walls, and ceilings.
  • General contractors for complete kitchen restoration: We guarantee to restore and replace your kitchen to better-than-new. We work with you to design and plan your new kitchen and install safety measures to prevent future fires.

NYTDR is ready to help you recover from fire damage and smoke damage. We know how to t Start with a free consultation or call us at 212-206-1300 today.


Moshe Amos

Moshe has more over 15 years as a licensed contractor in the New York City area. 

As a New York State-licensed Mold Assessor, he is especially knowledgeable about mold assessment and remediation.


Fire & Water Damage ‧ Mold Remediation ‧ Asbestos & Lead ‧ All Abatement ‧ Total Renovation