06 | 01 | 2014Installing Cabinets
Are you planning a DIY kitchen remodel? For the handy homeowner it can save a lot of money. Following are some tips to help your DIY kitchen remodel move along smoothly.
The most important part of any project is proper planning. Many kitchen design showrooms offer free design services if you purchase cabinetry from them. Alternatively, there are some designers that will produce designs for a fee so that you may shop around for the best cabinet prices. Either way, it’s in your best interest to have a professional do the design since they know how to best utilize your space while avoiding pitfalls. Once the design is complete you will have printed plans and elevation views for the installation.
You should prepare the room for the new cabinets by removing the old cabinetry and repairing the walls. It’s also a good idea to put the first coat of paint before the cabinets go in to reduce the need to cut in around the new cabinets. We do not recommend doing any electrical, plumbing or extensive construction yourself unless you are properly trained and licensed to do so.
Once your cabinets arrive you should be sure they are all accounted. I typically separate the wall cabinets from the base cabinets. If you take them out of the boxes you should cut the label off of the box and keep it inside the cabinet. You will need the nomenclature on the tag to know where they belong in the plan.
Next you want to find the high spot on the floor. This is where you will mark a level line for the base cabinets (usually at 34 1/2″ from the floor, but can be 35″ with some cabinets). You should also mark out where the appliances belong.
Finding the level line for the wall cabinets can be tricky. You will need to take into account the height of tall cabinets if there are any. If so, that will be what decides where the top of the wall cabinets should end. If there are no tall cabinets limiting you the goal would be to have about 18″ of space between the bottom of the wall cabinets and the countertop. You will want to keep in mind the crown moulding if you’ve selected any. The height of the crown moulding will be important if you are placing crown right up to the ceiling. This is where you might want to raise or lower the wall cabinet level line to allow the crown to meet the ceiling.
Many people ask me if they should install the wall cabinets first or the base cabinets. It’s a personal decision as both have their advantage. Installing the wall cabinets first will be a bit easier because you won’t have to reach over the base cabinets to do so. However, if you are not careful the base cabinets and especially your appliances might not end up in line or in the right spot.
I prefer to install the base cabinets first. To do so I install any corner cabinets first, then the sink base cabinet if it is to be centered on a window or opening. From there you can install the remainder of the base cabinets. Tall cabinets should be installed along with the base cabinets.
By installing the base cabinets first you will be in great shape to locate the wall cabinets. Typically I will just place a plumb line from the base cabinets below to correctly place the wall cabinets that flank the stove & refrigerator. From there the rest of the wall cabinets should end up right where they need to be. One area to look out for would be the window(s). You will want to have equal space on each side of the opening so plan accordingly.
Once you have installed all of the cabinets you might find areas with spaces. These would be also be reflected in the plans if you’ve installed everything properly. You would eliminate these by using fillers. The goal is to have no fillers but sometimes it is unavoidable based on the space available.
The final touches would be any crown molding and the hardware. Installing crown molding is a bit of an art, but if you have a miter saw you can do it. A good trick is to place the molding upside down on the saw as it would be installed. Since it would not be flat on the saw you should clamp a wood stop down to prevent the molding from sliding down while cutting. If set properly you can make your cuts by just adjusting the miter to the degree needed. This will eliminate the need for a compound miter saw.
The information here should be a good baseline for you to feel comfortable installing cabinets, however, your designer will be your best resource. They will be able to answer any specific questions regarding your layout. Don’t be afraid to pick their brains and ask a lot of questions because it will benefit you both in the long run. Your designer will want your installation to go smoothly as well. They would rather see you get it right the first time than to have you come back in needing replacement cabinets or parts!
Feel free to contact us if you are interested in remodeling your own kitchen in Eastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island, we’d love to help!