I have a typical laminate kitchen counter top which is built of particle board under the laminate. The bottom edge, at the front where it hangs over the cabinets is bare particle board.

The section over the dishwasher is crumbling and releasing wood particles all the time, due to the steam from the dishwasher. We're having the counters capped with engineered granite/quartz and I'd like to stop the particle board from deteriorating any further first.

I am planning to brush it vigorously to remove all the loose particles. Then I would like to paint it with something to lock down the particle board and seal out moisture. I have some Zinsser 123+ sealer but that mostly is described as sealing stains from bleeding through. Is there anything better? Maybe some type of glue?

EDIT: I used a solvent-based polyurethane as suggested by @dbracey. It has held up well for two years.

1 Answer 1


The door gasket on your dishwasher may not be sealing - check that for sure.

I would:

  1. Stop using the dishwasher for a week to let the area dry out.
  2. Mask off the formica/laminate in front.
  3. Use a solvent-based polyurethane (exterior grade) on the particle board that is crumbling. This will soak in and hopefully glue it all back together.
  4. Think about gluing a thin plastic of some sort over the area so that the particleboard isn't exposed to moisture anymore
  • if you open the dishwasher right after it finishes you'll get a big could of steam even with a good seal, to avoid that let it cool down for a few hours before opening. this will condense the water Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 19:47
  • 7
    The vent through which steam normally escapes during the drying cycle is along the top of the door. I've always attributed the problem to that. Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 19:50

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