replacing bottom of cabinet under kitchen sink due to water damage
December 14, 2017 3:20 PM   Subscribe

How should I fix the bottom of a cabinet under the kitchen sink that's got water damage?

Recently our garbage disposal had a leak. I had it replaced by a plumber. The bottom of the cabinet under the garbage disposal has a lot of water damage. The plumber recommended removing that bottom. He said I could just put some tiles or kitchen flooring on the floor below the bottom of the rotted wood after removing it. I then had a handyman/contractor take a look and he said he would recommend putting in a full new solid wood bottom for the cabinet and that it would have to be done precisely because he claims the bottom of the cabinet is supporting the cabinet plus kitchen sink up above. That seems over kill to me. And his price is high. Is it possible that the bottom of the cabinet under the sink has anything to do with the integrity of the kitchen sink going into a granite counter top?? Thoughts or advice here would be great.
posted by ljs30 to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I don't see anything wrong with what the plumber suggests. Without seeing photos, I doubt it is actually rotten. As such I also see no reason not to just leave it and live with it. Another option would be to cut out the old bottom, set some cleats and pop in a piece of plywood to replace the bottom.

Swapping out the base cabinet is indeed a bit of a task. Not difficult, but a PITA.
posted by humboldt32 at 3:54 PM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I had a similar issue and bought those linoleum peel and stick tiles you can cut. Covered the bottom of it smoothly and except for right now I've completely forgotten about it. My sink is cast iron, but the counter is formica and unimpressive.

I think to know for sure you might need to post photos though -- I could see how a granite countertop could be vulnerable to cracking if it were not fully supported from below. I think it depends on how much is unsupported and the strength of the surrounding materials that then have to take up some of the weight.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:55 PM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Is it the "floor" panel of the cabinet under the sink? If it's particle board then you should probably replace it. The ones I've seen have been panels that aren't that hard to replace, not structural or load-bearing. Unless there's something strange about your cabinets or the water damage has compromised other parts I don't see how it could pose a structural problem (although DIYers can get pretty creative with their custom installs, so I suppose there could be a more difficult issue to solve).

If the're off-the-shelf cabinets look for screw covers on the damaged panel - little discs of the same color material the panel is covered with. Peel them off and back out the screws and you should be able to pull the panel out.

They might not exist depending on how the cabinet is constructed. You might have to cut out the damaged piece. If you're not confident about being able to do it maybe get a quote from a different handyman.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 6:16 PM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Just removing the bottom of a cabinet entirely is likely to affect how strong the cabinet is, same as chopping a chunk out of any other piece of furniture. Of course it's going to depend on your specific cabinet, but they generally aren't overbuilt.

It should be pretty cheap to have a piece of wood cut to size and put in though. If I was doing this myself I'd use two or three pieces of plywood instead of trying to fit something precisely sized through the cabinet opening, and it certainly doesn't need to be anything that matches the outside of the cabinet as you'll only see it when getting out trash bags or whatever you keep there. It sounds a lot easier and faster than trying to install tile inside a sink cabinet on the floor.

If his price is high I think you need a quote from someone else.

This is assuming it's literally rotten as you said in your question. I don't see any reason to doubt your description, but it looks like other commenters disagree. If it is actually just water spots and just doesn't look pretty, buy some contact paper and put it down, even if you aren't "handy" this just needs scissors and will cost around $3.
posted by yohko at 6:21 PM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I just did this to a bunch of cabinets that are supporting a granite countertop. After busting out the rotten wood, I built a new frame out of two-by-fours and threw a piece of plywood on top. It looks fine and is plenty sturdy.
posted by chrisamiller at 6:43 PM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The reason to doubt it is that rot takes quite a bit of time. Particle board may have completely fallen apart, yes. But that's not rot. That's all I meant.

Removing the bottom of the sink cabinet won't affect the integrity of the box. Not in situ, attached to the wall, bounded by the cabinets next to it and the countertop attached.
posted by humboldt32 at 6:47 PM on December 14, 2017

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