Okay. The base cabinets and wall units have arrived. You feel so confident in your own fitting skills that you’ve arranged a dinner party for the weekend.
Now then, where do you start? It can’t be that difficult can it, your Dad did his own kitchen – all right? Mum was cooking on a camping stove in the living room for three months but it looked fantastic when it was finished and they did eventually start talking again.
I find that the least disruptive method of kitchen fitting is to start with your wall cabinets and I’m probably in a minority but it’s a fitting process that’s worked well for me over the years.
- Tape Measure
- Power Drill
- Masonry Bits – 10 or 12 Gauge
- 5mm High speed twist bit
- Hand Screwdrivers
- Cordless Screwdrivers
- Spirit Levels – medium and long
- Screws of various sizesExtension Lead
- Safety Equipment, e.g. Goggles; Dust Mask; Ear Defenders
Marking the height of your wall units
Always begin at the highest point after checking your floor level and transfer a line marking the top of your cupboards, with your pencil, around the walls on which they are to be fitted. This will act as a guideline when levelling the cabinets.
The height will vary depending on which size wall units you are installing but generally you should aim to leave a space of 500mm between the top of the work surface and the underside of the cupboard.
If you are installing a full height housing then its height will determine the height of the wall cupboards and the line must be drawn at the same height.
Marking the wall bracket positions
Next you will have to mark out the wall bracket positions. To determine this, unpack a wall cabinet and hold the bracket under the cabinet hanger. At the same time measure from the top of the cabinet to the centre of the fixing holes in the wall bracket. Now, transfer this measurement to the wall, measuring down from the line that already marks the top of the wall units.
Starting from the corner and using the spirit level, transfer the wall unit sizes, by a series of vertical lines on each elevation on which the units are to be fitted.
From these lines, measure 22mm in and place the wall bracket so that the fixing holes are central over the horizontal line that marks the drilling points. Mark each hole with the pencil. Continue this for each wall unit.
Drilling of the walls
You’re now ready to drill the walls. A good tip here is to angle the drill downwards when drilling; this will serve to strengthen the fixing and prevent the screws from working loose.
I recommend the use of at least 2 ½” x 10 Gauge screws for securing the brackets to the wall.
How to hang your cabinets
The cabinets are now ready to be fitted to the wall. The majority of wall cabinets have fully adjustable hangers that come in a variety of configurations. These generally adopt a similar principle in that two adjustment screws can be accessed from the front of the cabinet with a pozi drive screwdriver.
This allows the installer to adjust levels both inwards and upwards or if necessary, outwards and downwards. Starting with the corner wall unit – raise unit above brackets, slide down till the cabinet hangers connect. Using a long hand screwdriver, tighten back to the wall ensuring the cabinet remains plumb. Now adjust height to the pencil line indicating the top of the wall cabinets.
You have just hung your first unit. Subsequent units will need to be fitted in the same way.
If your corner is designed in a conventional way i.e. two separate units, now is the time to fit your corner post. Attach this to the correct unit using angle brackets or half blocks and after hanging and levelling the other unit, connect the two, again using half blocks or angle brackets fixed to the corner post.
It is imperative that levels are maintained correctly for all dimensions as this will make for easier door adjustment when they are fitted.
Connecting the units
To connect units together, use clamps inside the units to adjoin the units both top and bottom, ensuring that the front and top edges are flush. When clamping together protect units by using hardboard off cuts or similar behind the clamp jaws.
Remove one screw from each of the hinge back plates and rotate back plate to expose area behind. Using a 5mm wood bit, drill part way through the first carcass behind the hinge back plate and fix the two together with a cordless screwdriver using 30mm screws for 18mm units and for 25mm screws for 15mm units. Reposition back plate and fix. This will serve to conceal the fixing. If however, both units are connecting on the closing side of the doors – use the same procedure and cap the screws.
Some of the above will mean nothing if your wall cabinets have no hanging brackets as is the case with, for example, Hygena cabinets. In this case a level batten will need to be fixed on each elevation where wall units are to be fitted. This batten will need to be level with the bottom of the wall units. Prepare these units by drilling four 5mm countersunk holes in each corner of the cabinet, lift on to batten, drill through holes ensuring this mark is transferred through to the wall behind. Remove wall unit, drill and plug the wall, replace wall unit and fix. Connect units using the same method described above.
For each subsequent unit, you can now clamp top and bottom, again ensuring edges are flush and level and drill directly through the pre-drilled countersunk holes with a masonry bit.
Fit rawl plugs, fix screws and cap.
Other decorative units
Decorative units such as plate or wine racks have no brackets for obvious purposes and they cannot be fixed in the same way for aesthetic reasons. They can in the same way be connected to adjacent units by concealing the fixing points behind hinge back plates or shelves and to strengthen the fixing use metal angle brackets fixed into the gables at the top of the unit. Fix these to the wall as above.
A good tip, when fitting decorative units between two wall units is to fit a temporary batten midway on top of the unit. Overhang the batten 300mm each side and offer up between the two wall units it is to be fitted to. This will allow the unit to sit freely while you fix to the adjoining units.
Installing an extractor
To install an integrated extractor you will need to leave the appropriate size space between the wall units. If it is extracted to outside you will need to measure the dimensions of the extraction outlet on the appliance and transfer this to the appropriate location on the wall on which it is to be fitted. Drill through the wall ensuring that the ducting is appropriately sized in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
If the extractor is not being fitted to an outside wall you still have the alternative of installing rectangular section ducting which permits outside extraction through an adjacent wall by laying unobtrusively on top of adjacent wall units.
Well then, that’s the wall units up. In the next article I will show you how to install the base units and provide a temporary work surface for the camping stove – until the weekend dinner party is organised!
If you enjoyed my articles and find they may be useful for your own project then I’d be grateful if you could please share them using the buttons at the top of this page and let others know. Thank you for visiting our site and good luck with your project – Tim Foley
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