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Countertop Repair Over The Dishwasher

Is your Formica countertop in need of repair over or near the dishwasher due to rising steam creating damage? Is the underside of the top in this area particleboard? If so, it’s absorbing moisture and the flake-board is breaking down and coming apart. When you run your finger along the edge underneath, do pieces of chipboard fall to the floor as the press board crumbles? Follow the steps outlined in the next few paragraphs for repairing the wood underneath the top which will essentially eliminate the moisture damage from occurring anymore.

How to Fix a Damaged Counter Edge above the Dishwasher

I’m going to explain how to fix water damaged countertop edge over the dishwasher that is plastic laminate.

A solid surface top such as Corian, Silestone, Wilsonart or Avonite may have particle boardbuild up underneath as well.

You should be able to use this same method when you are repairing solid surface countertops also.

  • Important: You’re going to be using strong wood filler called Bondo (mostly used in the boat and auto industry) as a replacement for the flaky chip board. It is going to drip because of gravity. Make sure to thoroughly protect your dishwasher from getting ANY on it.


Materials Needed

1) 2 ½” wide putty knife
2) 4” to 6” wide putty knife
3) Drop Cloth, old sheet, newspaper or whatever works for protecting the dishwasher from the wood fillers and adhesives you will be using during the repair.
4) Bondo auto body filler
5) Masking tape
6) 2 pieces of Formica 1- 2” wide and another 1 1/8” wide. Both should be the length of the damaged area. Any color will do. Visit your local cabinet shop and get it for free.
7) Flammable contact glue/adhesive may be necessary
8) Small paint brush to apply the adhesive with.
9) Wax or block soap to be used as a releasing agent
10) 15” x 20” piece of cardboard to mix the hardener with the Bondo on.
11) Sanding block with 100 grit paper.
12) Possibly lacquer thinner as a contact glue remover

  • Tip: Remember to be delicate and not lose your patience while you are working in this area. Cabinetry work is a fine art and should be respected as such when making repairs.

Rebuilding the Build-up Area Over the Dishwasher

1) Remove the screws that are attaching the dishwasher to the underside of the top.
2) Now, gently but firmly apply pressure to the D/W mounting tabs in a downward direction, bending them out of your way. If they won’t bend, then you may just have to work around them unless you pull the dishwasher out completely.
3) Generously mask off the face area of the dishwasher where you will be fixing the counter edge. Mask off the counter areas too, so they don’t get any gunk on them either.
4) Use the drop cloth to protect the open door area that you are working over.
5) Using the putty knife, scrap out the flakey press board being careful to not remove the Formica edge. Do not remove all of the chip board. I’ve never seen a case that was so bad where it was necessary for all of the buildup wood underneath to be removed. If it is that bad, just cut a new strip of wood and insert it into the section that you just cleaned out.
6) Take the 2 ½” strip of plastic laminate and wax the finished side or rub the soap onto it. This is just to keep the strong wood/Bondo filler from sticking to it. Set the laminate to the side within reaching distance.
7) Mix the hardener into the Bondo.
8) Apply the filler into the void area using the 4” or 6” wide putty knife.
9) Place the strip of waxed laminate over it to seal the filler into position while it dries. Get someone to help you tape it into position.
10) Chances are good you will have to repeat the process a couple of times.
11) Sand the area with your hand block sander.

Another option, if the counter damage is spotty over the dishwasher, is to remove the small sections of flakey particle board and fill the small voids with the Bondo wood filler. Then, laminate over the area with the strip of Formica which is 1 1/8” wide. You may need to refer to our tutorial on How to File Formica to complete the task.

Cabinet making companies are always cutting corners to save money. I guess that’s why many use press board near the dishwasher when they are building these Formica or solid surface countertops which eventually get damaged from the rising steam. Making this repair will fix the problem because the Bondo is a fiberglass/ two part epoxy that is waterproof. Fixing this area underneath the top should never be necessary again.

  1. May 7th, 2009 at 00:42 | #1

    Fantastic tutorial on how to repair these surfaces. I’d always just accepted that these slowly broke down over time as moisture, heat and the other elements took their toll. Slowly replacing them with something a little more hardy over time.

    I’ll be sure to be sending anyone with similar problems over to this page!

    Thanks again.

  2. May 7th, 2009 at 05:56 | #2

    Great article. I am sure this will help many a person with this problem.

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