Repairing Water Damaged Cabinet Toe Kicks (or, “bases”)
Oftentimes cabinet makers will make the toe kick plates out of particle board to cut back on manufacturing expenses. This will cost the end user if repairing water damaged toe bases, due to flooding, becomes necessary. In some cases, only the cabinet bases are effected because the water level never got high enough to absorb into the cabinets. Please review “How To Fix Water Damaged Cabinet Bottoms” if the level exceeded the height of the recessed riser. Make sure that you use either pine or ply-wood as the replacement material after you tear out the effected areas. It is going to take an expert level of craftsmen ship to get the job done right and acceptable. If you are not familiar with fitting materials to the contours of floors or using a variety of tools such as high speed routers, laminate trimmers (tin snips), chop saws, or table saws, consider hiring a professional. Many of the items you will need could be purchased in pre-cut parts from a local custom cabinetry shop. This may be an alternative if you don’t have the tools necessary to fabricate the new parts that you will need to install.
Tearing Out The Cabinet Toe Bases
This procedure can be tough on the back if you are tearing out a large amount of cabinet toe bases. Just as a word of caution, please be extra careful when working in vinyl or tiled flooring areas. It may be a wise choice to place a thin protective board in the areas where you are banging and pulling with your hammer. That’s right, for this part of the demolition you just start banging away and pulling. You will be sliding around on your belly and reaching underneath the cabinetry to pull out the pieces that you are smashing around. You’re going to need to allow the area to dry out underneath if it is very moist. Speed up the process with fans. Purchase a good mold killer and mildew remover to spray underneath.
- Tip: If there is only minor swelling, it may not be necessary to tear everything out. You can drill large vent holes through the face of the boards and spray a generous amount of mold killer through them. Allow several days drying time and use fans to speed up the process. Then you can sand down the minor swelling or us use a chisel type tool if necessary. Then either laminate over the top with mica or use 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick finished material.
Installing The New Toe Bases
Here’s the method that I have used on many occasions and it works well when installing new toe bases to replace the water damaged ones. With this method we are going to install a sub board that is made of ¾” pine or plywood. The board should be cut about an 1/8” to ¼” shorter than the actual height. Install this board by screwing it to the struts through the front of the board or attach it from the inside of the cabinet bottoms, with screws.
- Tip: Many small cabinet shops can supply pre-cut materials and also answer many of the questions that you may have. Just make sure to leave them a significant amount of cash as a tip. Professionals should be paid for the wisdom that they share with you.
Once all of the ply wood or pine is in place, the next step is to fit and glue a thinner finished material over the plywood. I prefer to use “standard thickness” Formica (or “plastic laminate”) for this part of the procedure. You may also use 1/8” or 1/4” finished material. Contact glue should be used to adhere your choice of material to the new boards. Take time to fit the parts to the contour of the floor. If your using mica this can be done with a pair of tin snips. If your using eight or quarter inch thick materials, it will be necessary to use some type of saw in conjunction with a belt sander to fit the parts to the shape of the floor. I like to make a template first and then transfer the contour of the floor onto the actual replacement part. It’s OK to have the final product be around an eight of an inch shorter in height. This will make it much easier to glue it into place. Use downward pressure when doing the final install so the material will fit tight to the floor.