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The kitchen in the rental house I live in has a counter which was installed rather poorly - there is a gap of about an inch between it and the wall, and mice are able to scurry up this to the kitchen counter. I would like to seal this gap.

We've put out many traps, and tried our best to remove any potential sources of food, but it's an old house and we seem to constantly have mice problems in the winter, so sealing this gap would provide some peace of mind as it's the only access route to the kitchen counter.

One idea would be to use plastic tubing like this, only the gap varies between 1/4" and 3/4" in width, so we'd need to add a layer of sealant or something on top. The gap is too large to use caulk alone.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! enter image description here Gap on right

  • You may be able to push the counter top closer to the wall, and partially eliminate the gap if the counter is only screwed on from below. Try to loosen the screws holding it on and see if it will slide closer. A word of caution, avoid overtightening or using screws that are too long when reassembling. You wouldn't want a screw to poke through the surface of the counter. – Jason Hutchinson Oct 30 '15 at 20:27
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    If you can, see if you can remove the entire unit from the wall and stuff any holes with steel wool. Remove the drawers and look at the back of the cabinet, it should only be screwed to the wall in a couple of places. – diceless Oct 30 '15 at 23:29
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    A rental huh? Before you do anything to modify the counter top installation you should contact your landlord. They may have some decidedly different ideas about fixing this gap and how it is done, if at all. Last thing you need is to be burdened with is the expense of restoring the installation "back to original" when and if you move out and the landlord does not like what was done. – Michael Karas Oct 31 '15 at 10:56
  • Lots of good advice here, but I'd emphasize 2 things: making changes without your landlord's blessing can get you into trouble. And steel wool stuffed into the cracks where the mice are really coming from -- rather than the counter -- is what's needed here. – Aloysius Defenestrate Oct 31 '15 at 14:44
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This gap is too large to fill with caulk alone, but you can fill it and then caulk over the top. Using rubber tubing is an OK idea, and should work, but there are other products which are specifically designed for this purpose.

You can use foam backer rod, also known as caulk saver to fill the space behind the counter top. It comes in many different sizes and you should find one that will fit that gap. The benefit of the backer rod is that it can be compressed more easily to fit tight areas. It usually is also a cheaper solution.

To hold the rod in place before caulking you can put a few dabs of caulk on it to keep it from dropping down too far if certain areas of the gap are too big. You should position the backer rod about 3/8" to 1/4" below the lip of the counter so there is enough space to put a good layer of caulk down without having a raised bump there.

I would recommend a silicone caulk that is specifically designed for kitchens and bathrooms. Also, try to find one that matches the color of the counter top as closely as possible. A trick to get a clean line of caulk is to put masking tape on the wall and counter and leave an even gap. Squeeze out a bead of caulk, and then use your finger to smooth it out. Wait about 5 minutes, and then carefully remove the tape. This should leave a clean line, and there shouldn't be any excess caulk.

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    Instead of foam backer rod, use steel wool. Mice will just chew right through the foam and caulk but they will not touch the steel wool. – diceless Oct 30 '15 at 17:21
  • I've heard mice chew through foam as well, so the plan will be: put a bit of caulk down to prevent the steel wool from dropping down too far, insert steel wool along the length of the gap, then caulk it with a silicone caulk for kitchens. Thanks! I'll give it a shot today! – Nathan Oct 30 '15 at 18:48
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    Filling the gap is mainly for aesthetic purposes. I can guarantee that if you fill that gap, that mice will still find a way into your kitchen and onto your counter tops. I don't have any gaps in my counter, but they find a way up there. I think they are able to climb right up the side of the cabinet. With the foam backer rod and caulk, it will be very unlikely that they will try to chew through that. Mice will generally only chew a hole through something if there is no other way to get through. I bet they are getting in from somewhere else. – Jason Hutchinson Oct 30 '15 at 19:04
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    I would cover the already sealed up gap with a nice piece of stained and varnished oak molding, or some other nice looking trim piece that matches your decor. It will look way better then a wide caulk joint. – Jimmy Fix-it Oct 30 '15 at 19:50
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    seconding steel wool....stops mice. – ssaltman Oct 31 '15 at 12:29
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Another option is to buy a piece of decorative molding, whose bottom edge is at least as thick as the gap. Just attach it to the wall, setting it directly against the top of the counter's backsplash to block the gap. Caulk if desired. If you screw it to the wall instead of glue, you can remove it if the landlord doesn't like it.

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