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Refrigerators on Wood Floors: 4 Things You Must Consider

If you’ve decided to go with hardwood flooring in your kitchen, you may be confused about whether or not the hardwood flooring should go under the refrigerator or not or if you need to take special precautions to protect the flooring from scratches or leaks.

In this article, I cover 4 things you need to consider when putting a fridge on wood floors.

Do You Put Wood Flooring Under the Refrigerator?

Yes, the hardwood flooring should run under the refrigerator. This allows for a more uniform, clean look and ease of installation. The one caveat to this is that if you’re using a floating floor, you should make sure your flooring is designed to support the weight of the refrigerator. 

Refrigerator on a Hardwood Floor

The only real alternative to installing the wood floor under the refrigerator is to use a piece of plywood instead. You’ll have to make sure you use the proper width of ply because it will have to match the width of your hardwoods. So, if you have 3/4″ solid hardwood, make sure you use a piece of plywood that is also 3/4″. Whether sitting on plywood or on the hardwood, the fridge should sit even with the rest of the floor so it’s easy to remove for servicing.

With this option, you will need to leave room to allow at least a little of the hardwoods to run under the front of the fridge. You don’t want to end up with a visible transition from hardwood to plywood. But if you think about it, that could leave you with a bit of an issue. Since hardwood flooring expands and contracts with changes in humidity, you must always leave an expansion gap, and this is typically done against the wall and hidden by the baseboard. If you butt the hardwood up tight against the plywood, it may not be able to expand properly and that can lead to buckled floors down the road.

My other main issue with this is that you’ll also have to account for those shorter runs when installing the hardwoods. It’s easier if you can make fewer cuts by making long runs. Granted this won’t be an issue for a true flooring professional, but I’m assuming you’re the DIY type.

The main reason people decide to put plywood down under the fridge instead of hardwoods is for protection from leaks. I’m not really convinced you’ll gain much, hence my recommendation to just run the hardwoods to the wall. But, if you do decide to go the plywood route, you might as well go ahead and put a couple of coats of polyurethane sealer on it, use an exterior grade plywood, and caulk the seams around the walls and cabinets really well. Otherwise, what have you gained?

Should you put something between the fridge and the hardwood floor?

There are a couple of reasons you may want to put something between your refrigerator and your hardwood floor. Either you’re worried about the water line that supplies the ice maker and water dispenser leaking and ruining the floor, or you’re worried about marking up your beautiful wood floor.

How Can I stop my Refrigerator From Marking my Hardwood Floors?

It’s really quite easy to stop your refrigerator from marking up your hardwood floor when you move it. You can use several easy-to-find items to prevent this – cardboard, an old blanket, or masonite (also called hardboard) can be used to slide the refrigerator on. Or you can always use an appliance hand truck for this.

We’ll take a look at each option below, but first here are some important things to keep in mind when moving the fridge:

  • Make certain everything is out of the refrigerator and freezer
  • Once you’ve moved it out far enough from the wall, disconnect the power
  • If you have a water line going to the fridge, turn off the water valve and disconnect the water line
  • Rolling across the moving aid rather than sliding it across the floor is less likely to cause scratches
  • Always clean the floor really well before moving the fridge to help prevent dirt from causing scratches

Masonite (also called hardboard)

Using Masonite is my preferred method for moving the fridge without scratching the floor. Use either a 1/8″ thick, or even better a 1/4″  thick piece. Just as with the cardboard, clean the floor in the path you plan to move the fridge very well. Then lie the hardboard down and roll the fridge across it. If the hardboard you’re using has a rough, or textured side, and a smooth side, make sure to put the smooth side down against the floor. This is especially important if your refrigerator doesn’t have wheels and you have to slide it on the masonite.

Here’s what a sheet of Masonite looks like if you’ve never seen it:

Masonite

Here’s a close up of the textured side

Textured Side of Masonite

Another excellent use for masonite if you have softwood floors – those made using wood from evergreens (pine, spruce, redwood, cedar, etc) or even a softer species of hardwood, is that you can use it to keep the fridge from causing dents in the floor while it’s sitting in place. I’d probably opt for a 1/8″ thick piece for this just to prevent raising the refrigerator too much. You can either cover the entire area that the fridge sits in or cut strips wide enough for the wheels and feet to sit on.

For the record, my fridge is sitting on engineered hardwoods topped with white oak, and I am not using masonite under it while it’s sitting in place.

Pros:

  • The biggest advantage that hardboard has is that it’s, well, hard.
  • Barring some major grit between the board and your hardwoods, you’re very unlikely to scratch the floor while moving the refrigerator (nothing is 100% guaranteed).
  • Another advantage is that you can use Masonite over and over again.

Cons:

  • Hardboard is going to cost more than cardboard. Depending on the type and size of the sheet you buy, you’ll likely pay somewhere between $4 and $20 per sheet.
  • The other con that comes to mind is the size if you have a lack of storage space. The most common sizes for sheets are 4 ft x 8 ft and 2 ft x 4 ft. This can be an issue if you don’t have a garage or shed to store things in.

Cardboard

It’s never been my material of choice, but some people swear by good ol’ plain cardboard for moving the fridge.  Now, safe to say, thicker, sturdier cardboard is going to be better than the cheap, thin stuff.

Pros:

  • It’s cheap and really easy to find
  • All you have to do is butt it up to the fridge and then roll the fridge onto it. Then you can slide the fridge out without scratching the floor
  • If your refrigerator has wheels, and it likely does in the front, line up several pieces and simply roll it across the cardboard until it’s out of the way
  • It’s easy to dispose of; simply recycle it when finished

Cons:

  • It’s not the most durable material out there so it will offer a lower level of protection.
  • If your floor is made of softwood then the weight of the fridge could actually dent the floor as you roll it. Cardboard will not offer much (if any) protection from this.

Appliance Hand Truck

First things first, this IS NOT your typical little hand truck (or dolly) that you keep around for moving boxes. These are specialized hand trucks designed specifically for moving large appliances such as a refrigerator.

If you are sure what I’m talking about, check out this Harper Trucks Appliance Hand Truck on amazon to see.

The good news is that you don’t have to buy one of these if you plan to use it once. You can typically rent these at your local hardware store for $25 per day or less.

Moving a fridge is probably always a two-person job, but when using an appliance hand truck, that is especially true. You have to work the dolly under the fridge and then tilt it back to move it. This won’t be possible with one person.

There are some important considerations to keep in mind when using an appliance hand truck:

  • Since you have to tilt the fridge, you’ll want to secure the doors closed with something such as bungee cords
  • Do not tilt the fridge more than 45 degrees. You only want to tilt it far enough to allow it to roll out. Tilting it further can cause permanent damage to the internal workings of the refrigerator

Pros:

  • This is the easiest method if you need to move your refrigerator a longer distance than just sliding it out for service
  • Some appliance hand trucks, such as the one I linked above, can actually climb up and down staircases

Cons:

  • They’re expensive to buy (but you can rent them)
  • You have to be careful not to damage the doors or to tilt the fridge over too far

An Old Blanket

There’s not much to say about this method as the pros and cons are pretty clear. To use it, you just need to fold it over so it’s thick enough to protect the floor, but not so thick that you can’t work the refrigerator up onto it. Once the fridge is on the blanket, you can slide it across the floor without scratching it. Again, please clean the floor really well first.

Pros:

  • Everybody seems to have more than one sitting around and they’re soft.

Cons:

  • Not as easy to get the fridge on as cardboard, masonite, or using an appliance hand truck.
  • The only option is to slide the fridge, which I’m not a fan of.

How to Prevent Leaks on Your Wood Floor from the Refrigerator

The fact of the matter is that there is no guaranteed way to prevent leaks from your fridge from getting on your hardwood floor. There are measures you can take to minimize the risk of leaks, but the real goal is to prevent flooding or excessive damage from leaks by catching them early enough.

Here’s a couple of steps you can take to help minimize the risk of a fridge leak causing any real damage to your hardwood floors.

Use a Braided Stainless Ice Maker Water Supply Line

Most water supply lines for refrigerators or freezers are made of poly. This is mostly fine, but there concerns such as kinking, which could eventually cause a crack in the line.

Another concern is that the couplings and fittings aren’t usually permanently attached. They’re attached during installation, which is one more risk for leaking.

By using a braided stainless steel hose for your water supply line, you can greatly reduce the risk of leaks due to line or coupling failure. These will cost a bit more, but I believe that protecting your hardwoods from leaks is worth a few extra dollars.

You can find these at your local hardware store, or just order this highly rated model from amazon: Certified Appliance Accessories Ice Maker Water Line

It’s also a pretty simple job to switch out your supply line with a steel one. Here’s a great video on how to install a braided steel ice maker supply line:

Automated Leak Detection Systems

Another option is to use an automated leak detection system to prevent leaks from the fridge from getting on your floor. There are two types, sensors that will just set off an audible alarm, or even notify you via your phone if connected to a smart home system, and those that will also close the water valve.

The units that shut off the valve will prevent any serious damage because they shut off the water valve within 5 seconds of leak detection. The one thing to keep in mind, however; is that the sensor strips are not huge so a small leak may not hit the sensor until enough water builds up.

Here are a few options:

BrandFunctionalityLink
LeakSmartAutomatic Leak Detection and Water Shut OffCheck Price
Govee Alarm OnlyCheck Price
HoneywellWi-Fi connected, leak and freeze detection. Alarm only. Check Price

Here’s a video showing how the ones that also shut off the water work. This one is the FloodStop brand, but these types of sensors all work in a similar fashion.

If you do suffer a large leak on your hardwood floor, I have some tips in this article for dealing with water on your wood floor. However, please keep in mind, that if a large amount of water has gotten on your hardwoods, you should call in a professional.

 

Sources:

https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-move-a-refrigerator/