Dishwashers make every household infinitely better with their ability to deal with dirty dishes. Few things are more convenient than using a little dishwasher detergent and letting it handle all the work you'd generally have to do by hand. Whether you've been using a dishwasher for a long time or just got one recently, you've undoubtedly taken full advantage of it.
However, as crucial as a dishwasher's functionality is, its appearance is equally as important. Sometimes things go wrong or get overlooked in the installation process, and a dishwasher can end up having gaps between its body and the countertop above it and cabinets beside it. You can leave these empty spaces as they are, but it’s much more aesthetically pleasing to fill them out.
Filling out the dishwasher air gap may sound daunting, but there are a few different ways to go about the process. Each method works equally well, so the one you settle on will predominantly depend on what type of space you want to fill.
Some dishwashers leave a good deal of space between the appliance and base cabinets, while others leave room between their top and the countertop beside them.
Read on to learn about how you can fill the empty spaces around your dishwasher.
Before you attempt any of the methods below, let's briefly go over the main thing that separates some of them: the actual space that requires filling.
Many Dishwashers - Like Bosch - Come with Side Trim Strips to Eliminate Excess Space
Suppose you want to fill the space between the top of your dishwasher and your countertop. In that case, you can potentially opt to elevate the dishwasher's height, so you won't have to resort to using filler strips. Whereas filler strips are one of your best options for filling space on a dishwasher's sides, moving the dishwasher right and left won't work in this scenario.
Having Your Dishwasher Flush With Cabinets Prevents Unwanted Movement of the Dishwasher
Of course, if you seek to fill both the dishwasher's sides and top spaces, you'll likely use more than one of the following methods.
Elevating the height of your dishwasher is a great way to fill extra space between your dishwasher and the top of your countertop. The best part about this method is that it's easy and quick depending on how much your dishwasher weighs, and may be as simple as a trip to your local Home Depot.
To start, turn off the power to the dishwasher and remove the access panel beneath the dishwasher door if it has one. Typically, you can remove the panel with just a screwdriver. Following that, inspect the dishwasher to see if it's currently even from front to back. This is important because you want to remember to keep the dishwasher level as you raise it.
There are front and back legs that control the level of a dishwasher. By adjusting them, you can change the elevation of your dishwasher to your liking. Using an adjustable wrench, turn counterclockwise on the legs to raise the dishwasher and turn clockwise to lower it. Take your time while making the adjustments and ensure you aren't making the dishwasher lopsided.
Most Dishwashers come with Legs So You Can Move Your Dishwasher to Your Desired Height
Using a level is the easiest way to do this, so place it on the dishwasher once you finish making adjustments and see if it's even.
Using filler strips is only complicated if you don't prepare properly. Start by measuring the distance of the existing space from your dishwasher's ends to the cabinets' end. If you don't do this step first and attempt to install the filler strips by eyeballing them, you won't get the perfect fit.
Next, buy some filler strips that can fit the measurements you took of the gaps. For the installation process, you can either install the filler strips using screws or silicone. This mostly comes down to personal preference, but regardless of which you choose, you have to remove the dishwasher to get access to the walls around it.
The most significant caveat to this method is that it does require you to have a bit of knowledge of working with tools and dishwashers. Removing the dishwasher is not too difficult as you can lift and slide most dishwashers out of place to access the areas they occupy.
However, remember not to do this until you have taken everything out of your dishwasher and turned the water off. Turning off the water requires you to either turn off the shutoff valve beneath your sink or shut off the water supply to your house if you don't have a standard shutoff valve.
When the above options don't get the job done or seem like an overly large amount of work for you, there's always the option of getting a different dishwasher. This is an obvious option that you should hold off on doing until you have no other choice and decide the dishwasher isn't going to fit the way you want, no matter what.
Modern dishwashers are not difficult to buy and install. Still, swapping out dishwashers is a bit tedious if you don't want to learn how a new one operates. The new dishwasher also has to match the look of your regular and wall cabinets, so it can take a little while to find the right one.
Another Option is to Get a Dishwasher that Better Meets Your Space Requirements
That said, it's worth considering this option because it does not require manual labor like the other two options.
Maybe after considering your options, you’d really like to fill in that dishwasher space with a new kitchen feature instead. There’s always the option of a countertop dishwasher.
While not as spacious as your traditional dishwasher, it gives you the option of removing the appliance entirely and using that coveted kitchen space for cooking instead of cleaning. It might also help to have the sink right next to your countertop dishwasher for easy access to the garbage disposal and drain when extra pre-rinsing is required.
Despite how effective all the above options are, it's essential to identify which choice will meet your needs best before you pursue any of them. If you don't feel comfortable coming to a conclusion on this by yourself, consider seeking the opinion of a professional on the matter.
You'll also want to consider the costs of each option. Raising a dishwasher won't cost anything, but buying filler strips will cost $15-$60, depending on what kind you get. This is much cheaper than getting a new dishwasher, but again, installing it yourself does take some time and knowledge.
However, you can also opt to have a professional install the filler strips if you don't feel comfortable doing the process yourself. You'll have to account for the additional cost of labor and the supplies, but it's worth the extra price if it means you'll receive a clean installation free of issues.
In the case that you need to feel space above and beside your dishwasher, do the process of elevating it first before you add filler strips. Because the latter option is more time-consuming, you'll want to do it after you finish adjusting the whole dishwasher.