Gap opening up between wall and countertop
This house was built in the summer of 2010. The joint where the countertop meets the sheetrock was nice and tight for the first few months. Once winter arrived, the gap you see below started opening up. It got as wide as 1/4" at the end of the counter where it overhangs, but stayed pretty tight near the window, (the far right side of the first picture) maybe 8 feet away. I let the builder know about it, and he told me it was due to the cooler temperatures and lower humidity. He said it would close back up when it turned warmer again.
He was right, it closed back up to where it was when it was new. But last winter, and starting about now this year, it has come back. Right now, the gap is only approximately 1/8", but it will probably continue to widen as the winter progresses.
Last year, I tried to screw the top of the base cabinets directly to the studs from underneath with some 5/16" x 4 1/2" lag screws. It helped a little, but not as much as I was hoping. Half of them broke off as I was tightening them. Probably shouldn't have gotten the cheap ones from Lowes.
Any ideas on what I can to fix this, if it is even possible? I'm tempted to pull down some siding from the outside, drill a 1/2" hole all the way through to the underside of the cabinets, and tighten the crap out of a big a*$ bolt and pull it back together. Bad idea?
Never heard of using lags:eek:
Predrilling a hole in the back brace and using $ ceramic coated decking screws
should have been more then enough.
I'd be checking under the floor in the middle of the kitchen area to see what's moving and causing this. Shrink swell soils will cause the floor to move up and down over the seasons.
You could also just remove the 1/4 rd. in front of the toe kick and drive in some tapered spacers.
Its cooler, you've turned on heat. Its drying out wood in cabinet, which shrinks. (Winter air is dryer any way.) Studs in wall are also shrinking. Caulk applied now will be pushed out later when humidity rises. Cabinets were installed during summer when they were full of moisture.
Are cabinets painted on inside? What are they made of? What is countertop substrate? How is it fastened to cabinets? Plywood, mdf, particle board shrink less than wood. Are cabinets fastened to floor at front and how?
Trying to pull top against wall may lift front making cabinets unlevel front to back. If front stays down, cabinet joints may open.
Scrape caulking to a square corner. Fasten some small radius, wide enuff to cover gap at its widest, quarter round or cove or other molding to wall, press firmly against cabinet but do not fasten to cabinet. Let cabinet slide against molding. Contact cement may be easiest way to fasten molding to wall, don't get any on cabinet or that side of molding. You can also do that at ends of back splash, possibly along top.
Just let cabinet move all it wants, molding will cover gap.
(I just wasted both of our time, mine mostly, you can read faster than I can one finger type. Forget all that follows except as last resort. (Which is why I don't delete it.) The above didn't even occur to me untill I'd typed all this trying to make your rescrewing to wall idea work. So I blame it all on you.:wink:)
Wait untill gap is widest, remove all caulking. Recaulk with an elastic caulk. Paintable siliconized acrylic, solvent based paintable synthetic rubber or modified silicone polymer. Paint with latex, it will still bulge when gap closes but hopefully won't crack next winter.
If you still want to try fastening cabinets to walls, clean gaps and re-caulk. Use a larger diameter, harder lag screw and washers. Hardware store or real lumber yard will have various hardnesses. Two screws per stud one above other in top cabinet cleat. You probablly wont be able to get to bottom cleat, maybe one screw, angled down thru cab floor. Drill clearance hole in cabinet frame, pilot hole in stud longer than screw, diameter of unthreaded shaft, drag screw across bar of parafin, candle or soap. Don't over tighten each one individually, work along frame horizontally and bottom to top. Tighten screw til it just begins to pull cabinet then move to nxt screw. Don't try to pull cabinet against wall one screw at a time. You're going to work back and forth, up and down several times. Watch and listen for front bottom lifting or cracking of cabinet joints. Stop if you hear creak find source, if it causes visible crack or loosen structure don't tighten that screw untill you see if tightening another closes crack. Loosened shelves, out of line drawers and doors can be repaired but keep close eye on what is happening to cabinet.
If front has lifted and top is not so out of level that you can live with it shim under front and fasten to floor. Cover gap with shoe base. If too unlevel you may be able to push front down, but you are liable to crack, or open joints of, cabinet.
I did try using regular drywall screws first, but they just pulled through the MDF as I tightened. So then what I did was drill pilot holes for the lag screws through the upper part of the cabinet (labeled " top support" in the picture below, put a couple washers to spread the load, lubed the screw up with bar soap and cranked it down. They kept breaking where the threads stopped.
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