Countertop veneer behind the sink has cracked
January 7, 2019 2:24 PM   Subscribe

When we bought our lumpy little house a little over two years ago, we purchased through a Neighborworks program that gave us some money for renovation. They put in a new countertop in our kitchen, but it was low-budget. Over the weekend I noticed this crack which has opened up. Now what?

At first I thought it was the usual sort of gunk that tends to get stuck behind a sink, but as I scrubbed at it I realized that while the other gunk was coming up, the black patch I was scrubbing was not what I thought it was. Is water going to seep in and ruin my counter from the inside out? Can I patch it with something? Plus, I don't really know how long it's been there, which is worrying.
posted by PussKillian to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Looks to me like it needs to be re-caulked?
posted by impishoptimist at 2:28 PM on January 7, 2019

Response by poster: It was never caulked - it's right next to where the sink fits into the hole in the countertop cut from it.

Hmm. Maybe there should have been caulk and the guys didn't do it.
posted by PussKillian at 2:38 PM on January 7, 2019

This is where your sink drops through your laminate countertop as a drop-in install (it's kinda hard to tell from the photo)?

My guess is that yes, the laminate is cracking off for an unknown reason. That does open the underlying wood/fiberboard to water infiltration, which isn't good. You can certainly patch it with silicone caulking, if you don't mind the aesthetics.

The other thing I thought it could be (and I don't think this is it, looking at your photo), is that the sink is slightly off in its hole, but that'd look different... and a gap could still be caulked as a stop-gap measure.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 2:57 PM on January 7, 2019

I'd get some almond caulk and seal it up well. Might as well tear out and replace the bead all around the sink, if there's any evidence it was ever done to begin with. You don't want water getting inside a solid-surface countertop.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:37 PM on January 7, 2019

Can you take a more backed-out photo in brighter lighting? It's a little hard to tell what's going on in that photo.

That said, I guess what I'd probably do (assuming I'm seeing what I think I'm seeing) is mix up a batch of epoxy and smear it over the damaged area. That would stabilize it and make it waterproof again.

Then I'd start saving up for a new countertop, because if this one is starting to come apart in one spot, other spots likely aren't far behind. That's cheap laminate, for you.

It's not the end of the world as long as you don't let it progress. My own countertop has some effed up spots that I probably won't even bother doing anything about. They're not in areas that get super wet, though.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:34 PM on January 7, 2019

It is very hard to seal the sink to the laminate top, as cleaning tends to be very abrasive and will pull the silicone out over time. The sink is then suspended by the surrounding silicone and there is a hole where it has been tugged out, which water will enter through. So sinks are often dropped into the cut-out without a silicone bed, either just onto the counter or onto an adhesive foam strip.

Either way the cut-out also needs internally sealing, the "cheap" way is that the exposed particle board edge is smeared with silicone for form a skin. If that wasn't done then over time moisture will get into the chipboard and cause it to expand and split. That could be what is causing the veneer to fail. If you have a dishwasher or similar under the counter that can also be a major source of moisture. Alternatively even a small puncture in the veneer from a knife or similar will quickly swell and rip the top layer.

The reasonable fix is to dry it out really well, use a sharp knife to cut the failed area into a "V" shaped groove, tape around it with painters tape, pour in an epoxy fill of approximately the correct colour, use a filling knife to skim it flush with the veneer, remove the painter's tape just as it starts to cure. You can buy plunger tubes of two part epoxy in the adhesives section of any decent hardware store, although they tend to be clear or dry cloudy. But they'll waterproof it.

That'd fix it if the moisture is entering from the hole itself. If it is entering from below then it will inevitable fail again. Get under the counter and look at the sink cut-out, any tap cut-outs etc and check the particle board is well sealed and there is no tell tail black mould or damp.
posted by samworm at 6:02 AM on January 8, 2019

once laminate starts pulling away (because of water), you're usually in trouble :( So you definitely want to prevent water from getting under there.

That said, my understanding is top-mount sinks should have plumbers putty, not caulk, as the water barrier. That may be what was done, and it is gunk getting under the crack between the sink and counter top, but the putty is keeping it from going deeper.
posted by k5.user at 8:34 AM on January 8, 2019

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