Countertop corbels and brackets are essentially mechanisms that hold up the countertop, either literally or decoratively. Understanding how they were installed initially can help you remove them without damaging the surrounding areas or cabinets. Load-bearing installations attach corbels and brackets to a solid surface that is capable of holding the weight of both the corbels and the countertop. Decorative corbels and brackets can be attached to non-load-bearing areas for a wonderful decorative touch. In order to successfully replace countertop corbels and brackets, you must first investigate how they were installed and whether they are load bearing. The extra time in this investigative process will save you headaches and possible damage to counters and cabinets. Follow these steps to replace corbels and brackets.
Step 1 -- Locating Screws and Toggle Bolts
In order not to damage the cabinets, countertops or corbels, you need to remove all screws, nails and bolts before you start prying. Locating screws and toggle bolts can take a while, but it's worth it. Here are a few common ways to discover hidden bolts, screws, nails and toggle bolts:
- Look for a small patch of mismatched grain, which can help you identify a wooden plug.
- Use a nail to probe areas that look as if they have been filled or spackled.
- Examine the inside of the cabinet or back wall for screws and washers.
Step 2 -- Pry Gently
Once you have removed or unscrewed any metal hangers, you can take your pry bar or scraper and gently pull the corbel or bracket away from the surface. Use your scraper to loosen any glued areas.
Step 3 -- Use a Saw for Hard-to-Remove Corbels and Brackets
Occasionally, it will be impossible to find or remove all of the screws or bolts. When this happens, there is one tool that is indispensable, and that is your reciprocating saw with a metal or bimetal blade. Take several layers of painter's tape and tape off both sides of the cabinet next to the corbel. Gently pry the corbel away from the surface enough to get the reciprocal saw blade behind it. Use the reciprocal saw blade to cut any nails, screws or bolts but not the wood. It's best to test this technique in a place where mistakes won't be seen. If you don't have a reciprocating saw, you can slide a hacksaw blade under the corbel and manually cut the screws.
Step 4 -- Corbel Installation
You can install a corbel from the front by drilling a pilot hole and screwing into solid wood. Then cover with a wooden plug, spackle or paint. For a blind installation, you can run a screw with the washer through the face of the cabinet into the back of the corbel. Mark the center of where your bracket will be and drill a small pilot hole. Insert a piece of string. Have a helper hold the racket firmly, while you crawl inside the cabinet and predrill holes and set screws. The string will help you see where the pilot hole is once the bracket is covering it. Space corbels every 36 to 48 inches, depending on load-bearing weight.
Step 5 -- If Countertops Are Off
Another system is to create a floating corbel by attaching it using a keyhole fastener. This device allows you to hang the corbel on a screw, but attaching it this way will require either damaging the corbel or removing the upper surface since the corbels are installed before the countertop.
New corbels could be just the thing to spruce up your eat-in kitchen cabinet area. It is recommended that you stain or paint your brackets before hanging them and touch up any spackle or plugs that hide screws.