How Can You Protect Countertops and Cabinets from Dishwasher Steam?

A dishwasher installed under the countertop creates one problem – the likelihood that the surfaces of the cabinets and the countertop will be ruined by the hot steam.

The hot moisture emanating from the appliance may soften the adhesive and destroy the laminate on the cabinets.

Even for the non-wood countertops, say, those made from concrete, the hot moisture may create a damp environment on the surface which may create perfect conditions for the growth of mold.

So, How Can You Protect Countertops And Cabinets From Dishwasher Steam?

Most homeowners go for moisture deflectors to stop the hot moisture from reaching these delicate surfaces. Some dishwashers, especially those from Kitchenaid, comes with an aluminum foil (works very much like a metal tape) which you can use to seal the vent ductwork and also protect the wood or laminate surfaces of your cabinets and countertop.

Five Methods Of Combatting Dishwasher Steam

Use one of these methods to protect your cabinets and countertop from steam-induced destruction:

1. Adhesive Sheets/Contact Papers/Heat Shields

Contact papers are probably the cheapest remedy you could utilize.

The best thing about these sheets is that they add an aesthetic value to the surface as they often feature decorations.

Some of them are designed to imitate the marble appearance of your countertop among other patterns.

Better yet, they are waterproof meaning you simply need to wipe off the accumulated moisture with a dry cloth and your cabinets/countertop will be just alright.

Also, you can easily install them on surfaces by following simple instructions often provided by the manufacturer.

Take a glance at these examples:

  • TOOWELL 16”x158” Marble Contact Paper: This granite gray/white countertop and cabinet roll are thick enough to offer lasting protection against moisture encroachment. It is made from PVC, practical, and easy to install and remove without leaving some ugly marks.
  • Yija Self Adhesive Marble Gloss Film: This multipurpose gloss film is decorated to look like whitish-pink granite. Because it is made from PVC, it is tough and waterproof at the same time. Better yet, it is self-adhering.

IKEA sells foil adhesive sheets for this purpose, but it can be cheaper to obtain smaller rolls of foil and HVAC tapes from home supplies stores like Lowes and Home Depot.

Amazon has a stash of them too, check them out here.

Manufacturers such as Toaster Shield, Maple Craft USA, and KraftMaid® Cabinetry, offer many different types of heat shields sheets, and fillers that can be easily obtained from local retailers. Toaster Shield even allows you to order them online and install them all by yourself.

2. Buy A Dishwasher Equipped with Gasket/Foil

If you don’t buy a dishwasher designed to prevent this problem, then you’re more likely to find yourself painting the underside of your ply countertop or cabinet with some sort of primer.

Fortunately, most of the products supplied by KitchenAid and IKEA are equipped with gaskets or foils to cut the amount of steam escaping into the environment.

The tub gasket on a dishwasher creates a moisture-tight seal around the device’s door so that the steam does not leave the compartment when the appliance is running.

If you learn that your appliance is leaking, start by diagnosing the problem around the gasket. If the gasket is faulty or worn out, consider replacing it immediately for the sake of your cabinets.

3. Melamine Lamination

Melamine laminate is a synthetic waterproof material often added on particleboard (which is often used to make cabinets and countertops) to make them water-resistant and both shatter and scratch proof.

Laminate is normally made from compressed wood. Most of the laminate products you will find are either low-pressure or high-pressure, but both are perfect for preventing water and steam from penetrating particle board surfaces.

The most preferable are acrylic and gloss finish varieties.

These two allow moisture from your dishwasher to collect in many tiny globules that can be easily wiped with a piece of dry cloth. They also add aesthetic value.

There are several types of laminate (textured, acrylic finish, gloss finish, antibacterial, fire retardant, anti-fingerprint, etc.).

Other Methods

You can use any of the popular exterior oil-based paint to reduce the effect of hot moisture on surfaces. Oil-based paints are waterproof because of the oil emulsion used in their preparation, so they provide an excellent barrier for moisture.

Alternatively, you use clear polyurethane it dries mostly clear (meaning it will be hard to notice) and provides a near-perfect barrier.

If you can’t apply oil-based paint or polyurethane, you can opt for something like regular candle wax which provides a cheap waterproof coating.

Mineral oil would probably offer good protection although you might need to reapply it regularly.

4. Remember to install the appliance in the right way

How you choose to install your dishwasher can determine whether your cabinets and countertop will be more exposed to the hot moisture or not. You can install the dishwasher in such a way that the amount of heat reaching these surfaces is limited.

The only time you’ll experience this problem is when you install the dishwasher too far beneath the countertop.

Ensure that that the appliance is not pushed back and too far under your countertop.

One of the common mistakes made by many homeowners is to install the dishwasher in such a way that the doors are flush with the nearby cabinet – that’s outrageously wrong!

The best way to go about it is to ensure that the body, not the door, is flush with the closest cabinets.

5. Check the direction of the vent

There are dishwasher brands that put the vents in the door.

The job of the vent is to release steam to the outside. An appliance designed this way, therefore, will inflict damage on adjacent cabinets if installed improperly.

Just like most other types of dishwashers, these devices are typically installed forward or proud from kitchen cabinetry so that this vent is not covered.

Always follow the instructions provided by the maker when installing the appliance as damages due to the wrong installation is never the responsibility of your cabinet provider.

6. Built-in dishwasher?

Built-in dishwasher like the 60-cm units from BOSCH comes with two advantages over the regular freestanding options. Firstly, they are designed and installed with moisture management in mind.

They normally fit in a compartment specially designed for them.

This way, the moisture won’t end up on your countertop or cabinets. Secondly, inbuilt dishwashers are installed in tall cupboards if you don’t prefer tight-fitting spaces underneath the countertop.

This style of installation puts the working height at your eye level while utilizing the hood range as a moisture disposal avenue.

To Summarize….

  • Hot moisture from the dishwasher can be destructive on wooden surfaces. Even on non-surfaces, it can create a damp environment that may lead to the growth of mold.
  • Most homeowners install moisture deflectors to stop the hot moisture from reaching these delicate surfaces.
  • Some dishwashers, especially those from Kitchenaid, comes with an aluminum foil (works the same way as the traditional metal tape) which you can use to seal the vent ductwork and also protect the wood or laminate surfaces of your cabinets and countertop
  • Contact papers are probably the cheapest remedy you could utilize. The best thing about these sheets is that they add an aesthetic value to the surface as they often feature decorations
  • You can buy a dishwasher equipped with a foil or gasket.
  • The tub gasket on a dishwasher creates a moisture-tight seal around the device’s door so that the steam does not leave the compartment when the appliance is running.
  • Melamine laminate is a synthetic waterproof material often added on particleboard (which is often used to make cabinets and countertops) to make them water-resistant and both shatter and scratch proof. Laminate is normally made from compressed wood.
  • How you choose to install your dishwasher can determine whether your cabinets and countertop will be more exposed to the hot moisture or not.
  • You can install the dishwasher in such a way that the amount of heat reaching these surfaces is limited
  • Remember to check the direction of the vent when installing the appliance
  • There are dishwasher brands that put the vents in the door. The job of the vent is to release steam to the outside.
  • An appliance designed this way, therefore, will inflict damage on adjacent cabinets if installed improperly.
  • Just like most other types of dishwashers, these devices are typically installed forward or proud from kitchen cabinetry so that this vent is not covered.
  • Built-in dishwasher such as the 60-cm units from BOSCH come with two advantages over the regular freestanding options.
  • Inbuilt dishwashers are designed and installed with moisture management in mind – they normally fit in a compartment specially designed for them.
  • Also, inbuilt dishwashers are installed in tall cupboards if you don’t prefer tight-fitting spaces underneath the countertop.
  • This style of installation puts the working height at your eye level while utilizing the hood range as a moisture disposal avenue.
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