Formica counter missed the cabinet top ?

qmarkerNovember 2, 2011

I moved into a brand new condo a year ago. The day I moved there was no stove here so I cleaned that area well and a few months later I pulled out the stove to clean the floor under it and all was fine.

Yesterday, I was polishing the glass stove top and noticed the small gap between the counters on each side of the stove was all on one side. I tried to center the stove and couldn't move it. Then I looked down into the gap and it turns out that the formica counter top is attached to the top of the cabinet correctly in the front but as your eyes follow the gap back toward the wall, you can see the top of the cabinet (left side) which should be under the formica top. It is the side of the lower cabinet next to the stove. Now, the side of the cabinet is not all under the formica counter top and its bowing out and pushing against the stove at the back end.

Nothing feels loose anywhere. The formica is firmly attached to the wall. It is just the side of the cupboard toward the stove.

Is there any ideas to help me figure out what to do here to tuck in the side of the cabinet under the formica where it belongs?

Thank you, Donna

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Fori is not pleased

I don't suppose you could call the builder back in to fix it could you?

Are you pretty sure this is recent, that the cabinet was okay before and has bowed out since you moved in? You really don't want the top of the cabinet exposed since a spill could get into it and then it'll really swell.

Pictures please!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 12:35PM
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Circus Peanut

Sounds like the weight of the formica substrate could be slowly crushing a cabinet wall that isn't strong enough? Definitely an issue for the original builder to resolve, if possible --

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 1:01PM
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Is there a water source nearby that could have caused the side of the cabinet to get wet? Is the cabinet side particle board?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 1:10PM
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I managed to get part way into the lower cabinet and snap pictures. My new condo is one year and 45 days old and I had a warranty for one year.

I hope you can see enough to offer suggestions. I can tell you the triangle piece of wood is out of the grooved track. I was afraid to pull the stove away for fear it would break further.

Picture link might be of help and I appreciate anything you might offer to help correct this.

Thank you, Donna

Here is a link that might be useful: Cabinet wall separating from base

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 8:17AM
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I'm not positive by any means, but that looks to me like the side of the cabinet is delaminating. Heat from the stove can help delaminating along, but it shouldn't have happened at all. Do you know if your cabinets came with a warranty? Do you by any chance live in California? CA has some pretty strong laws on builder defects.

If you don't have options like getting the cabinet people to come in and fix or replace, or getting the builder to make good, you could try to fix this yourself. Pull the stove out, put glue on the separated part and tape as tightly as possible until the glue dries. When it dries, put a bead of silicon where the cabinet meets the underside of the counter. The lack of a silicon bead could well be responsible for the problem in the first place.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 2:12PM
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In a similar vein, I would go to HD or Lowes and buy a tube of construction adhesive and perhaps a length of 2x3.

I would pull the stove away from the wall so that I could get behind it.

I would put the glue in the gap where that triangle is as well as that back corner all the way from top to bottom.

I would cut the piece of wood to a length (30" or so) where it would fit very tightly against that side wall from the cabinet on the left to the right. I would then brace said piece of wood against that side wall at the back until the glue set, say 24hrs.

I would remove piece of wood and toss (or burn in fireplace).

Reinstall stove.

Note: I have my own small circular saw.

You can use anything that fits that gap tightly and presses that sidewall back into place.

You could also use screws, like short drywall screws. But you should use a power drill to drive them. Much easier.

Nails might work, but you're up against a wall so swinging a hammer might be problematic.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 5:47PM
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Serves you right for pulling out the range to clean underneath :-). Most ranges are too heavy to bother!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 5:52PM
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Weedmeister has it right (unless your cabinets have a different warranty than the condo warranty). The whole back joint needs to be re-glued and screwed. The next question is - what could have caused the original glue joint to have failed? Excessive heat?

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 6:43PM
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Yup, I like all those ideas on how to hold the glued portion tight until dry much better than my tape idea. When I was taking woodworking classes I used to see people put laminations on their work by gluing it on a horizontal surface, putting this very large bag over it and sucking out all the air. Think of a big Space Bag. Clearly that method won't work here, but I'll bet some variation of that was how the lamination was put on in the first place. I never took that class, but I may yet one of these days.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 7:42PM
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As of yesterday things are much worse now. When I moved in here, I had the entire place painted white just because I had no clue what colors I wanted. I decided on colors and began with the kitchen. My oldest son stopped in to help me get the blinds etc. down and I proceeded to paint. I told him I was leary of pulling
out the stove because I might not get it back in. He looked and said it would be ok and just stay the way it is.

When I got to the stove I did pull it out and heard a very loud crash. The side that was coming out seemed to be better and not stuck out so far. I opened the cabinet door and the upper shelf full of kettles & Corning ware was collapsed disconnected and on top of everything that was on the floor of the cabinet. The long shelf was disconnected and on the left side only laying on top of the other things.

I went on the web and looked up Merillat cabinets and sent them an email. I received a canned message saying they could not view my link and would send a warranty package.

Then I went to the web site of the building supply where the cabinets I picked out and were ordered from and they replied saying they would get a hold of their factory representative and contact me when they got an answer.

I am not sure who installed the actual cabinets. Was it the supplier or the builder/developer people? My new question is this: If the builder had someone install them would that person have to assemble the inside of a cabinet or would it come assembled and the builder would simply be placing the cabinets. In other words who the heck is responsible for the glue failure? I have a sinking feeling one is going to blame the other or the cabinet warranty (25 yrs) might be null because it is not a cabinetry failure. Is this a cabinet failure or an installer goof?

Oh, there is no condo warranty. This a condo I purchased. Condo only has outside responsibilities. I am in Wisconsin.


Thanks again

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 10:37AM
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Circus Peanut

Merillat cabinets come pre-built; the installer is only responsible for screwing them to each other and to the wall.

In my view, from your pictures, this is a clear construction error - normally the sides are screwed to the back, but in this case it looks like they just used glue? And that glue has failed. (Do you see any screw holes or protruding screws on the side wall or on the triangular support piece?

I don't think it's a 'heat from the stove' issue, or shouldn't be in any normal cabinet construction. It's not delamination, it's a failure of the actual cabinet wall. When the stove stoppped propping it up, the wall pulled out far enough for the inside drawer to fall off its left glide.

Crossing fingers, but it seems like a pretty clear case of construction failure that Merillat will be able to take care of. Just be persistent with the dealer.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 11:09AM
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Wow! You were right the first time - it was the entire side pushing out. Although you didn't get very satisfying answers from the supplier or the manufacturer, I wouldn't take that as probably they'll play the blame game and leave you high and dry though. Remember that yesterday was Friday afternoon and nobody will even think about this again until Monday. At some point I would expect a manufacturer's rep to show up and have a look. Maybe they'll even check the rest of your cabinets to see if others have the same issue. Since there is no question that what you have is a manufacturing defect, I expect they'll take responsibility and the entire cabinet will be replaced. The good news is that replacing the cabinet will be much simpler because your counter is a laminate which is *much* easier to deal with than a stone of some sort. That is my best guess on how this will go. Do let us know in any case, because a positive or negative response will be noted by anyone who searches for "Merillat" when they are debating which cabinets to go with. (It might not hurt to send Merillat a link to this thread.)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 12:01PM
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I took a couple more pictures and this time I did add a description. Geez, that whole long shelf is held up with nothing more than plastic clips?? There is a plastic clip on the right side but nothing on the left side. I can tell you from rearranging shelves in the upper cabinets it is flimzy at best. Those clips are hard to work with and flimsy.

I thought cabinets were delivered already assembled and I am going to push for this to be all taken care of. I see screws only inside of this. On the upper cabinet above the refrigerator when I was painting up there I did see just about all of a screw from the cabinet to the wall and I doubt if two threads were in the wall. I was looking at most of the screw. Also the upper trim is a million staples sticking straight up. I cut my hands more times than I can say trying to paint the wall. I am not impressed with the cabinets at all or the installation.

I will call the building supply company again on Monday. The gal there said she'd contact their representative. Also the developer/builder of this unit is going to be here tomorrow for his open house and I'm going to have him come in and take a look at this. My condo warranty ran out last month but the cabinet warranty is 25 years. I just don't know who installed them. But it appears that doesn't matter here?

Thanks so much for all advice, I will let you know how this turns out.

Here is a link that might be useful: Additional pics after shelf collapse

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 3:38PM
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Sorry to hear about your cabinet problems. Have you talked with other residents in your building to see if any of them are also experiencing cabinet failure. If your cabinets were installed wrong most likely the same thing was done in other units. You might have more leverage with the builder/developer if you find that others in the building have the same issue.
If you have a place in your building to put up notices you could post your cabinet concern there or talk to someone on your owners association board to see if they have heard about any such problems.
Wishing you good luck from a fellow Wisconsinite.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 12:13AM
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Oh ouch.

I feel confident they'll make good on this. There's no way a cabinet maker with a national reputation like this will brush away such a massive problem 45 days past warranty. What would be the point of doing business? You just can't have shelves collapsing like this.

Please don't worry, I'm sure they'll do right by you.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 1:01AM
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Thought I'd let you know that the factory rep. was here and this is what he discovered.

Here is what he found:

There is a thick header pine board at the interior top of the cabinet.
The large screws to hold the cabinet to the wall must go through that header board.

In this cabinet, those large screws are not going through the header board where they should be.
The screws anchoring the cabinet to the wall are several inches underneath that header board incorrectly going through the back wall of the cabinet.

The back wall of the cabinet is thinner wood than the header board so the back wall was being forced to reach the wall.

That pressure caused the glue in the corner brace and the entire side wall to snap away from the cabinet back over a period of time.

In other words, the header board sticks out about 1/2" from the back of the cabinet wall. By putting the screws through the cabinet back wall instead of into the header board, the back was being pushed toward the wall causing pressure to the corner that finally gave way.

He is going to contact the factory to see if anything at all will be done. The builders people installed the cabinets not the cabinet manufacturer. The rep will get back to me on what is decided.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 1:59PM
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Yeah, that's definately an install issue, not a manufacturer's defect. The cabinets have to be secured to the wall through the mounting strips. I'd bring this to the builder's attention for sure. Even if the warranty that he provides has already lapsed, he needs to know that his installer is an idiot and to not use him again. And if he is still active in building, you might be able to make enough of a stink over this error that he would agree to replace the cabinet for you. If not, then you may have to find a cabinet maker to come out and rebuild the cabinet.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 2:23PM
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