Moisture can cause walls, floors and cabinets to deteriorate. It can also lead to more serious problems.

Drawers/cupboard doors that stick

When cupboard doors stick or drawers are misaligned or badly worn, this can reduce the lifespan of the cabinetry.

You can re-hang doors that are sticking or out of alignment. The hinges may need adjusting or replacing. Check that the sticking is not due to the cabinetry absorbing moisture. Many cabinets are made of MDF (medium density fibreboard) that absorbs water and expands. If the sticking is due to moisture, you need to find the source of the moisture and address it (see Moisture in the home). You may need to replace badly water-affected cabinetry.

Drawers can stick due to wear or damage. Replace damaged rails or lubricate timber runners/drawers with penetrating oil or rub with candle wax.

Scratched stainless steel benchtops

This is from general wear and tear and can look unsightly.

Polish the surface regularly with a household stainless steel polish and a soft cloth. Do not use steel wool or plastic wool kitchen scrubbers as these will scratch the surface. Use wood, plastic or glass cutting boards to reduce the amount of scratching from pots, pans and chopping. If the scratching is severe, it may be worth having your bench reground. This is a job for the professionals.

Floors

In the kitchen you need to balance safety, aesthetics and practicality. Floor surfaces that look good and are easy to clean can be slippery, especially when wet, and make a hard landing if you fall. The more slip resistant a floor is, the harder it is to clean.

  • Keep floors dry and clean.
  • Don’t allow children to play in the kitchen.
  • Cover slippery floors with a secured mat or non-slip treatment or apply a new floor finish.

Damage to laminated surfaces

When laminated surfaces lift, bulge or crack, this can be due to poor adhesion, over-heating the surface or it can indicate that moisture is getting into the cabinetry.

First, address the cause of the moisture, then repair or replace the laminate. See combating damp for more information on how to prevent and deal with moisture. You may be able to iron out bubbles in the centre of laminate and re-stick the edges.

When a laminated surface fades, this is due to ageing and means the surface is probably coming to the end of its life. You can resurface flat areas with new laminate. Speak to your hardware retailer for advice on how to do this.

If a laminated surface is scratched or chipped, you can lightly buff with a mildly abrasive cleaner or toothpaste. Colour filler is available for some materials.

Damaged or cracked tiles and grout

Damaged tiles and grout allow water to get through into your home’s walls or floor, which can lead to rot and structural damage.

  • Replace damaged tiles.
  • Scrape out and replace cracked grout.

Tip: Extreme care must be taken when replacing tiles in showers, as there should be a waterproof membrane beneath the tiles. If the membrane is damaged or was poorly installed this could lead to serious water damage to the structure of your home.

Seek professional advice if you are replacing tiles in showers.

Check out the BRANZ Ltd book Good Tiling Practice for more information.

Damaged skirting

If the skirting is a coving (curves up the wall) designed to keep water out of the walls, damage to it could allow water to get into the wall which could in turn affect the framing or structure of your home.

Replace any damaged skirting and ensure the new skirting is primed on all sides before installation.