Protecting edges of installed cabinets

Protecting newly installed cabinetry from the chaos of continuing construction. November 15, 2000

Does anyone have any suggestions for protecting the edges of cabinets that have been installed?

For various reasons we install cabinets before all the trades are through. People drag hoses and cords aroung the corners. Appliance installers bang into our work. Floor finishers slop paint on the toekicks. Things happen; that's just a hard fact of life.

Since they are not going to stop beating our cabinets up, we need to protect them better. I can figure ways to cover most things up okay, but one big problem is on the end of a cabinet run. We can't tape a corner protector on a recently painted surface, and we can't hang anything bulky from the top. If we do, the countertop people have to pull it off to install their work.

Does anyone know of a product that is available for situations like this? Or, does anyone have any ideas of what we can do in a reasonable amount of time?

Forum Responses
Why don't you get the protectors that are put on the edge of wallpapered walls? They are usually found in paint stores or Home Depot. I think they are tacked on, but you could probably tape them at top and bottom and middle.

Our company is faced with the same problems yours is. We recently installed our doors in a very large kitchen job and was appalled at the lack of consideration other trades people have. Painters rolling the ceilings out didn't cover the cabinets by the wall ovens. They splattered white paint on dark cherry cabinets. Luckily we use a catalyzed lacquer and we wait until 90 percent of trades people are OUT before we install crown, kicks, doors, drawer fronts, finish panels. Another dilemma for us is our drawer glides--full extension ball bearing glides which get dust and dirt inside.

When we start the jobs we have the customer acknowledge that we do not cover the cabinets or take means to protect them after installation--that is their responsibility. We tell them to keep the cabinets clean and to inform any trades that work on the job to be extremely careful around the cabinetry. There are no scratches or dents and it should be that way when they leave. Any damage done after that tradesperson has left will be charged to their company REGARDLESS of the circumstances. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Either way we get paid to fix it--we don't do it for free.

It really is discouraging when you work extremely hard to deliver a near perfect product and in the blink of an eye some careless person destroys it without even a second thought!

Due to liability reasons we do not cover our installed cabinetry. I would tell you why but it would be another long story and my coffee is getting cold.

This is hard to explain but I had a customer that made wooden corner protectors that screwed into the underside of the toekick area. He painted them bright yellow and lined the inside with 1/8 closed cell packing foam. This way, if the tile guys spilled water, it would dry out. If you can't understand what he made let me know and I can draw it and fax it to you.

Bob Niemeyer, forum technical advisor

The concern we face on larger commercial jobs regarding this problem is ambiguous contract language created by the high dollar attorneys for General Contractors and Construction Managers. This contract language is normally based on the GC/CM's prior job close-out and how much they had to compromise to get paid a percentage of their entitlement.

Note that I say "percentage"--job close-out is defined in their business as "compromise."

Bearing in mind that retainage (normally 10%) is held back until acceptance by the owner, the compromise trickles down hill. Chances of getting the retainage without being financially hurt are almost impossible.

Guess what? the GC/CM's first and most valid assertion is: "you failed to adequately protect your work" and by making this assertion, regardless of your contract terms, fully supports the owner who in turn beats everybody over the head with the "General Conditions of the Contract".

Like a previous post stated, "have the customer acknowledge that we do not cover the cabinets or take means to protect them after installation--that is their responsibility." Just make sure you are paid sufficiently while making this assertion and that the customer has acknowledged this provision in writing when entering into a signed contract.