Installing your dream kitchen
Well you've done the showroom shuffle, chosen your dream kitchen and the delivery's coming next week. The cost for fitting was more than you expected so you’re doing it yourself - surely it can't be that difficult stacking a few units side by side can it? All that remains now is to scour the cellar to find that toolbox your mother bought you in 1985 when you last attempted a diy project.
With the increasing cost of kitchen installation many buyers will identify with the above ambitions and after reading a catalogue of kitchen nightmare stories it isn't beyond those with a certain degree of manual dexterity to successfully install their own kitchen.
To achieve this will require the correct equipment and a few contingency plans whilst work is in progress. I suggest retrieving the necessary hand tools from the old toolbox and contacting a tool hire company for the specialist equipment required.
Preparation is important and if you aren't conversant with plumbing and electrics relating to your plan will provide relevant contractors with the position of services for your appliances. Gas work will require the services of a Gas Safe registered installer and you can locate a competent fitter on the following website Safety is of paramount
Check the plastering - most modern kitchens are best suited to painted wall elevations and this will require a quality finish to the surfaces. Plastering should be even and plumb to ensure a neat finish where the units meet the walls.
When service preparation is completed it's time to mark the layout. If your design incorporates a tall housing the height, including the plinth, should be transferred to the wall using a pencil. For the purpose let's assume that the height of your oven housing is 2120mm including the plinth. Floor finish must be accounted for and this will vary depending on your choice. Again, for the purpose of explanation we will assume your tiles, along with the adhesive will raise the floor level by 15mm. Find the highest point of the floor and transfer a measurement of 2135mm to the elevations where wall cabinets are to be installed and, using a spirit level, continue the line to account for all wall units in your design. This line marks the top of your wall cabinets.
Next, you must line up all vertical axes to ensure correct alignment of the hob and extractor. Unless your kitchen is a Galley configuration, corner units will be integrated in the design and this is where to begin. Corner cabinets are located in a position detailed by the manufacturer so, for instance, for a corner cabinet with a 500mm door, the manual may state that the door size +631mm is the set position for the correct location of the corner post.
A vertical line, 1131mm from the wall, must now be drawn up to wall unit height after taking the above rule into account. From this line every vertical axis for both base and wall units can now be marked out. This task is made easier if your design employs an L- shaped corner cabinet and the width of this will pre-determine the vertical line.
Now we must mark the height of the base units and this is a simple task now
that we have marked out the top of the wall units. To determine the installation
height measure the height of both the tall housing and the base unit excluding
the plinth legs, and again for example purposes, let's assume the height of
the base unit excluding plinth is 720mm. Subtract this measurement from tall
housing height excluding plinth, 1970mm (2120mm - 150mm), and what you are
left with will mark the top of the base units when measured down from the
wall unit height already indicated. In this case 1250mm when measured from
the top of the wall units will indicate the base unit height. This can now
be transferred around the walls.
This rule applies regardless of whether a tall housing unit is part of your design and it pays to determine the height of your chosen supplier's tall housings as this will determine the correct space to leave between base and wall units.
By now, your pretty markings may have made little impression on a household anxious to see their new kitchen in and working, but conveying the importance of your artistry should win you renewed admiration before the next stage.
Installation should commence with the wall units and dependent on their type, you will need to fix hanging brackets or a batten to support them whist marking the fixings. Hanging brackets are the most common and allow vertical, plumb and some lateral adjustment at a later stage if necessary. Using appropriately sized screws (minimum - 60mm x 10 gauge for solid walls) and ensuring the fixing points are free from electrical cables or water pipes, you can fit the brackets and hang the units on the wall.
After making adjustments and ensuring all edges are flush and tops are aligned with your height line, clamp units together and screw behind the hinge plates where possible, to link together. To do this, remove one of the hinge plate screws if pre-installed, and spin around to expose the concealed centre of it's location on the cabinet. Using 30mm x 8 gauge screws for 18mm cabinets, part drill with a 5mm wood bit through the first cabinet (approximately 12mm deep) and drive screws in to fix. Repeat this process when fixing all cabinets together.
Leaving relevant space for the extractor, install all the wall units removing doors if fitted and carefully place in a safe location till later. Install your tall housing and commence installation of the base units utilising the markings you made earlier as a guide. Where services enter the cabinets drill holes for entry using appropriately sized hole-saw attachments. For integrated appliances, ensure the space is correctly sized. A good tip here is to use an off-cut of the correct size and screw two overhanging pieces to it. Place this between the cabinetry before fixing to the wall to ensure you have left the correctly sized appliance aperture.
Now it's time to fit the worktops and should they be solid surfaces or granite they will require templating before fabrication, however, apart from joints, the following rules for laminate top installation will still apply for the template you provide.
The main criteria to aim for when fitting worktops is an even overhang i.e. the distance from the front of the worktop to the front of the cabinet. In the majority of cases this will be 30mm but may differ according to cabinet and worktop dimensions of your chosen supplier. In addition, for visible ends, an overhang of 10-20mm beyond the gable is desirable.
Decide on the configuration of your tops and cut to size with a circular saw from the underside leaving 80mm excess. Place in position making sure the overhang is even at both ends of the span. If any protrusions of the wall that project the top further than your target overhang are evident, they can now be cut to suit the contours of the wall or to use the more technical term, scribed.
To achieve this use a compass and pencil and set it to a point that will not reduce the minimum overhang required to cover the doors when fitted but will ensure a neat fit to the wall. Any more than this will not be sufficient to achieve this aim.
Run the point of the compass along the wall ensuring it remains parallel. The transferred pencil line when cut will ensure a neat fit. A good tip here is to run masking tape along the back to ensure the pencil line remains visible, particularly useful when installing dark worktops. For explanation purposes we'll call this Top 1.
Assuming the configuration as being an L-shaped kitchen and the 600mm worktop as spanning from the end cabinet to the return wall, then adjoining worktops will require the same method of scribing along the return wall elevation. When measured from the opposite return wall or the return end cabinet, remember that the oversize measurement is from return wall to 80mm beyond the front edge of Top 1.
After scribing Top 2 place it to one side and place Top 1 back in position.
Now, using an offcut of worktop to support it at the opposite end, place Top
2 in position over Top 1.
Top 2 is now in position 40mm above the cabinets if using 40mm worktops. Check all overhangs are correct. Use a combination square to check overhang of Top 2. Mark the point where the front edge of Top 2 meets Top 1 again using a combination square to determine this precisely. Masking tape will assist in marking darker worktops.
Remove the tops and cut the female mitre on Top 1 using a 1/2 inch router
and worktop jig ensuring you commence cutting from the pencil line marking
the start point of the joint. This may require adjustment of the position
of the jig to be exact before clamping it to the worktop. Three to four passes
with the router will not put a great strain on the motor. At the same time
cut out the dog-bone shaped profile for the connecting bolts.
Place Top 1 back in position and again place Top 2 over it with a support piece at the opposite end.
Mark a line transferring the female joint and dog-bone joints of Top 1 to the underside of Top 2. This marks the male joint that must now be cut out of Top 2.
An important rule to remember when using a router for worktops is to always cut in a left to right movement commencing from the postformed or front edge. This may render that the worktop is cut from the underside dependent on the position of the worktop.
After cutting out any hob or sink apertures, apply varnish to protect the exposed chipboard and adhere edging to the appropriate ends, you're now ready to joint the worktops.
To make the joint use a good quality similar coloured silicone sealant and tighten from the underside using worktop connecting bolts placed in the dog-bone cut-outs. Ensure the tops are flush and tight then remove excess silicone. A sprinkle of sawdust rubbed around the joint area will help in removing the thin film of silicone left on the laminate face after jointing.
If cornice and pelmet are incorporated in your design then now is the time to install and this is best achieved using a mitre saw to ensure a good joint finish. Again these are available through good hire shops. To adhere the joints use a two-part adhesive, which is now commonly available for this purpose.
Ease of appliance installation is dependent on the correct location of electrical and plumbing services and the provision of a first fix layout plan in correlation with your design is recommended. If all services are in an appropriate position then appliances can now be installed without complication
To complete the cabinet installation, alignment of doors, drawers should now be undertaken. Quality hinges and drawer boxes will make the finishing less complicated and ensure ease of adjustment to give a high class finish to your design. Gaps between cabinets and walls will require co-ordinated filler panels. Cut these to the same height as the relevant cabinet and leave them approximately 30mm oversize before scribing to the wall using a compass and pencil. Use masking tape if necessary before cutting with a jigsaw.
Accessories are the next step and range from pull out larders and carousel units to highline poles and cutlery trays. Reputable accessory manufacturers provide clear instructions and it pays to source these to save time and effort after all your hard work.
Finally it's time to clean up and dress the kitchen with, no doubt, the container load of plants, cutlery, pots and pans that have recently been bought.
Unfortunately I can offer no advice on this other than to make a sharp exit before it's made plain to you that your role in the culinary decoration is at an end apart, that is, from yet another deficit to your waning wallet
If you enjoy reading my articles and find they may be useful for your own project then I'd be grateful if you could take the time to click the Google Plus1 button at the top of this page and let others know. Thank you for visiting our site and good luck with your project - Tim Foley
© Tim Foley 2012