Is Your Dishwasher Not Flush With The Cabinets? (Find Out Why!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Oh, kitchen areas. How do you manage to have so many issues that I need to write about? One of the issues that I often hear complaints about is the fact that dishwasher installations don’t always go over well. Sometimes, a person’s dishwasher won’t be flush with cabinets. Is this supposed to be a major issue?

Most dishwashers aren’t supposed to be flush with cabinets, so don’t panic if they aren’t flush. Ideally, the dishwasher will stick out anywhere from 1.5 inches to around 3 inches from the rest of the cabinetry. This makes accessing the dishes and the washer space easier.

It might be shocking to find out that your dishwasher isn’t actually supposed to be flush with your cabinetry. Let’s talk a little bit more about how this can affect your home’s layout.

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Should I Be Worried That My Dishwasher Isn’t Flush With My Cabinetry?

Honestly, it’s nothing to panic about. The truth is that most people who see the washer not being flush might get a bit worried, but it’s not founded on reason. The most issue you’ll have from a dishwasher that juts out is the chance of stubbing your toe. No biggie.

Most people are unaware of the fact that dishwashers are supposed to have a little bit of an outcropping compared to the cabinetry. So if your dishwashers stick out, it’s actually a sign that you are doing things right.

Why Are Dishwashers Meant To Stick Out From Your Cabinetry?

It’s actually a matter of functionality. Dishwashers involve a lot of work around them. Sticking the washers out makes it easier to pull the dishes out of the washer, open the door, and maneuver around the area. Oh, and it also makes it easier to press the setting buttons, too.

How Much Should Dishwashers Stick Out From The Cabinetry?

When installing a dishwasher, pay attention to the door portion. The dishwasher door should jut out at least 1 inch from the cabinetry. However, that’s only half the story. To figure out how much your dishwasher should stick out, you need to look at the control positions. Here’s the scoop:

  • Most dishwashers will have front controls. Front controls are found at the front of the dishwasher door, right near the top of the hinge. This type of dishwasher only needs to jut out around 1.5 inches from the casing of your cabinetry.
  • A small handful of dishwashers will have top controls. Top controls are located on the top side of the dishwasher, not on the door or slightly above the door. These will need to jut out as much as they need to in order to provide access to the buttons. This can be anywhere from 2 to 3 inches.
  • Unusual/unique dishwashers may require their own spacing. I’ve seen portable countertop dishwashers and similar models that may not even need to have their own space. Use your own discretion here, since these models can vary greatly from size to size.
  • The general rule is that the dishwasher’s body, not the door, should be flush with cabinets. If it’s not, you may need to adjust it.

What Should You Do With The Gap Between The Dishwasher And Cabinets?

Let’s be honest for a sec. Most of us do not like to have to deal with the gap between dishwashers and cabinets. Assuming that you don’t have a container that’s placed directly on top of the washer, you will have a sizable gap between your machine and the cabinets. So, if you have that issue, you probably want to make things look more seamless. Let’s look at your options.

Countertop Placement

The easiest thing that you can do is have a countertop that is taller than the dishwasher, placed on top of the cabinetry and washer. By having everything hidden by the countertop, you get a seamless look. Obviously, this has catches:

  • You need to plan this out. You will have to measure the countertop, build the cabinets and counters, and also find a washing machine that is the right size. This includes tons of shopping, browsing, and measuring. It’s wise to hire a pro here.
  • Counters are expensive. I need not have to explain that some kinds of counters can cost upwards of $40 per square foot, right? Even if your dishwasher is not that big, it’s a lot of money to spend.
  • You have to make sure that it’s level. This is something that is pretty important, and something we’ll get into later. The process alone can make most people rethink the idea of getting a countertop placement. No one wants to keep having to readjust the feet on their washer!
  • There is a chance you will have a large gap between the counter and the top of the dishwasher. This is usually not a big deal, but those of us who are a bit persnickety might hate having to deal with the cleaning that it brings, but hey, it’s a thing.
  • There is also a chance that you might not be able to find a dishwasher later on. Standard sizes can always change. If this occurs, you may have to figure out a solution that may or may not currently exist.

Add Cabinet Gap Seals

Another option is to add a way to bridge the gap between your dishwasher and the two cabinets on either side. If you have a corner unit, then you can only really add filler strips on one side. Here’s what you would have to do:

  • Go to your local hardware store and grab some filler strips. Ideally, you’ll find ones similar to your cabinet’s color. If not, you might want to stick to wood and paint it for a more seamless wood. If you need to stain them, make sure to dry them for at least 24 hours prior to installation.
  • Measure out and install the strips. The strips need to be tall enough to match the height of your dishwasher and wide enough to match the gaps. You can usually use wood glue to hold them in place.

Note: It’s totally common to have different widths for filler strips on the top and side of your dishwasher. Make sure that you can open and close your dishwasher’s door BEFORE you install them. If the filler strips block your dishwasher, there will be a problem…a big one.

An Important Note About Keeping Your Dishwasher Level

If you are thinking of doing an “under counter” dishwasher install, it’s absolutely crucial that you get your dishwasher level. If your dishwasher is installed in a manner that makes it slant one way or another, it will interrupt the flow of water from your dishwasher and strain the motor.

In some cases, an unlevel dishwasher can cause water to pool up at the bottom of the unit. This can lead to flooding, internal decay, or even a sudden breakdown in your motor. If you notice that your dishwasher regularly floods after its install, it’s almost certainly not level. A professional under-counter install will prevent this from happening.

To ensure that your dishwasher is level, grab a level and rest it on the top of the dishwasher lengthwise and widthwide. Adjust as necessary. If it shows that it’s level both horizontally and vertically, you’re good to go. Do not try to install filler strips or use the dishwasher until it’s level.

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Related Questions

Is it possible to put a dishwasher in a corner?

While it is not the most ideal place to do so, it may be possible for a person to install a dishwasher in the corner of their home. In order for this to be doable, you have to be able to open up your dishwasher door fully and also be able to pull it aside for repairs.Corners can reduce the mobility that you have around the dishwasher and make cleaning a difficult endeavor. Due to the precarious placement that corners have, we suggest you try to put your dishwasher anywhere else before you resign yourself to putting it in a corner.

How large is a standard under-counter dishwasher?

Though there are other sizes that you might find as far as dishwashers go, the most common under-counter dishwasher size will be 24 square inches with a 35-inch height. Most dishwashers that are designed for under-counter installs also happen to have adjustable feet.If you are unsure how high or low the feet on your dishwasher go, it’s best to refer to the owner’s manual. In some cases, companies can also work on offering extensions to ensure even levels.

Can you use caulk to cover gaps near your dishwasher?

It depends on the size of the dishwasher gap. Caulk itself is not going to harm your dishwasher. However, it’s only going to be a good option for people that have gaps that are under 1/8 of an inch wide. If your gap is wider, then you are going to have to use a different option. On a similar note, you shouldn’t use caulk if you want to paint over the caulk.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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