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Ok so, water damage is causing me grief with my kitchen sink unit and I'm not sure whether I can save it or whether it's time to ditch it and replace it completely. However I'm loath to completely ditch it because I know at some point in the future we will renovate the whole kitchen.

Problems:

  • The wood around the sink to go black and expand (you can see from the photo that the sink caulk is lifting)
  • Cabinets and feet have water damage causing the wood to expand.

What would you do? Save it, if so how? Or replace it?

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  • Have you found and solved the source of the water damage? The worktop to the side of the sink looks like it could just be splashing from the tap but getting that much down to the feet seems like it might be a leak somewhere. Sep 19, 2023 at 8:13
  • It's just careless water splashing over time and every now and then water leaking from drying racks down to the feet :-/ Sep 19, 2023 at 8:16
  • 3
    I would either: drop the sink to below the work surface level OR lift the worksurface above the level of the sink so water can drain into the sink. That would remove the sitting water ...
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 19, 2023 at 9:56
  • I assume the cabinets are made of particle board?
    – Huesmann
    Sep 19, 2023 at 11:33
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    "How to install a farmhouse sink so it will fail if actually used" illustrated perfectly.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 19, 2023 at 12:33

3 Answers 3

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I think you can remove the caulk and re-caulk it also apply some ktichen cleaner and try to take the oily , greasy stains away.

See if you can buy some peel and stick for wood and manage it for now.

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This appears to be a problem of "poor design" combined with "cheaply made cabinets that fall apart when wet" used around a sink that is installed to ensure they will get wet, due to poor design. Probably looked just like the picture in a magazine of a sink that was never connected to water for the photo shoot.

If you otherwise like the sink, install it correctly. That is, undermounted so that the countertops drain into it, not overmounted so that the countertops are guaranteed to get wet and stay wet. Looking at "farmhouse sink" images, I see three results that are not overmounted out of the first 32. If you happen to be wedded to this design faux pas, then you have to also be wedded to wiping up every single time you splash even a bit, and you need an elevated drip tray that can drain into the sink for drying your dishes. While re-doing the counters, consider also not using wood unless you are likewise committed to maintaining it in harsh service for wood countertops. Or, plane them down to solid wood, removing the rot, and finish with several coats of polyurethane to make them more water-resistant.

As for the cabinets, I'd probably start (being value-conscious) by seeing what I could find at the closest Habitat Re-Store for decent used cabinets. Or, think through your future kitchen remodel far enough to do the sink part now. These cabinets appear to be past redemption due to being made of a material that dies when wet, that got wet.

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  • All agreed, but may I suggest that a wood planer that can take a countertop this wide costs more than a kitchen renovation.
    – Cheery
    Sep 19, 2023 at 14:59
  • Try a Stanley #5 or a Millers Falls #14. And learn to sharpen it. Or put a planer (or core-box) bit in a router and learn how to run it on rails to act as a planer as big as you'd care to build, for considerably less cost and less storage space.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 19, 2023 at 15:05
  • Thank you @Ecnerwal, this is super helpful. I agree about the poor design, it's also all Ikea... very much looking forward to renovating the whole thing and upgrading to more sturdy materials! I had no idea about Habitat Re-Store - I'll definitely have a look there. Sep 20, 2023 at 7:29
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First, don't blame yourself for the failure of this cabinet. As the other answer points out, this is just bad design coupled with materials that do not belong in a wet environment. And any kitchen that is actually used is a wet environment. There's no "wipe wet spots immediately" way to solve this.

How to solve this depends, like everything, on your budget. So here are some suggestions, from cheapest to most expensive:

  1. Remove the silicone and add more.
  2. Replace that side of the countertop. The cheapest is a Formica countertop, which can last for a few years. I would do tiles. You could do quartz or something similar, but if you are spending money on a nice top, might as well replace the cabinets too.
  3. Replace cabinet and top with an undermount sink.
  4. Renovate the kitchen.
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  • Thank you @Cheery, I think a quick fix for now will be to redo the silicone and perhaps hand sand the wood then treat / seal so it looks a bit more respectable as a stop-gap before replacing it with more durable materials. When you say tiles, would you tile the countertop? I like the idea of quartz or marble... Sep 20, 2023 at 7:32

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