Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Installing Ikea plinth on the kitchen base cabinets

Yes, I know you've all been wondering when we'd get around to it. Apparently that time is now.

Actually, I'm just afraid of the dustbunnies that are growing under the counters. Sometimes I hear noises from under there, but I'm afraid to look. One of the cats is missing and I think she's under there.

So the plan is a scouring of the Shire, no wait.. wrong story. A scouring of the floor, yes, that sounds better. Then the installation of the plinth to prevent the return of the evil dustbunnies. (And it'll make the kitchen look a lot better, a lot cleaner looking.

The first problem, (and yes, there will be many) was to figure out what the deal was with the little plastic snap-on footer that came with the IKEA plinth. The instructions say to snap it on the bottom of the cut planks, I'm guessing to keep the water off of the cut ends of uber-absorbent particle board. Well, I gave it a shot, and you know, I'm just not smitten with the look. I'm still up in the air on this, but I decided to prepare to NOT use it.

So I decided to start with an experiment to see just HOW absorbent this particle board plinth is. I mean, lets say the dishwasher fails and floods the kitchen... how much damage can I expect, and can I prevent any?

I wanted to see if polyurethane could do the job of that little plastic "footer" that came in the box, so I poly'd one bottom edge of a scrap piece of the plinth, as well as the back bottom half.

In this first picture, the darker coloured bottom half of the plinth has been poly'd and is sitting on a plate with 1/4" of water in it. You can also note that the top right side is darker, too, but that's because I first tried to stand it on its side before I realized that wasn't a realistic test.

I let the poly side stand in water fo2 20 minutes, then flipped it over, dried it off, then sat the unpoly'd side in the water.

Serious capillary action, folks.

After five minutes, I snapped this next picture.

After 20, I took another.

The un-poly'd half was a sponge.

The *good* news is that after an hour of being out of the water, there was barely any noticable swelling, and it weathered the test rather surprisingly well.

I'd say if you have your kitchen in 1/4" of standing water for 20 minutes, you have more to worry about than your plinth.

In our case, I think any water that might come from the sinks or the dishwasher would trickle down into the basement before doing any real damage to the, oh 150 year old molten pine floors, or the plinth.

All in all, the poly'd side held up great, no visible water absorption at all. That's what I'm going for.

So I laid out the plinth on the boxes they came in and polyurethaned one the bottom edge as well as the backs, up about 1" from the bottom edge.

I did it twice just for the heck of it.

These suckers are waterproof.

Now when I make the cuts to fit the base cabinets, I'll just apply a little more to the cut edges before the final installation.

So far so good, but as I said previously, there are more problems ahead.

One has to deal with the Ikea feet on the island sink cabinet. Because we turned one 90* from the others, the feet are too far out for the plinth. Looks like we'll be doing some extra cuts in the plinth.


Megs said...

Thanks for the post! I'm planning on an Ikea kitchen and recall reading about the snap-on plastic pieces. I'll have to keep this in mind.

Btw, what was it about the look of using the plastic footers? Am I imagining this correctly that it raises the plinth slightly off the floor? Or does it encase the bottom of plinth and you see the plastic?

Jon said...

We went ahead and used the plastic footer and so far it seemed to have worked pretty well. In our situation, it actually was a nice addition in that it seemed to level out any slight difference in the floor tiles.

It didn't raise the plinth too much for us - then again every plinth we used had to be ripped to the correct height anyway!

Anonymous said...

That's a question. Do we rip plinth or raise the island 3/8"?

Anonymous said...

Megs, if you're doing an island kitchen, you'll want to check back in on some of the other problems we're about to encounter (no pun intended) to learn from our mistakes, and hopefully, some solutions. Next problem is accounting for the base cabinet feet.

and Re: the plastic footer, I dunno- just looked a little klunky to me. We've been working on all of these straight clean angles and lines, and the plastic footer just looked like it didn't 'fit'.

We may still end up using it, because I know as much as we hammer out every single detail about our home, absolutely NO ONE who sees it (besides all of you who read this blog) will EVER know it's there.

Sometimes I have to keep reminding myself that.