Kitchen Installation Tips - Part 6 - Installing Your Kitchen Cabinets

Okay, now it's time to get your tradesmen on the job (if you're using any). Who needs to do what - and when?...

Kitchen Installation - Section 2

Time for the sparky – cable running for lights & sockets

  • Okay, assuming there are only four bare walls where you kitchen used to be, it’s time to have the electrician run his cables for any new sockets or switches that are being installed. There will also probably be cables to run in the ceiling if you are changing from a single light fixture to multiple spotlights. If you live in a bungalow then the electrician will be able to run these from within the loft without disturbing the ceiling too much. If you live in a two storey house then a certain amount of ‘raggling’ will need to be done to route cable through ceiling joists. Many people are moving away from heavily Artex’d ceilings now so this needn’t be a problem if you were getting the ceiling skimmed (plastered) anyway.
  • If your home doesn’t currently have a Cooker Control Point and your electrician has advised that you need one, then now is also the time to run the extra heavy cable for this. It will come directly from the house fuse box/consumer unit, so make sure he has easy access to this.

Plumbers & pipes

  • Plumbing has become a lot easier these days with the advent of ‘push-fit’ pipe fittings etc and simply extending pipes might be within your abilities. If your house has a combi-boiler fitted, then this will make isolating the hot and cold water much easier as you can simply turn the water off at the main (often under the kitchen sink) and it will stop the flow to both.
    Now is the time to have any underfloor pipes run if you are moving sink or hob location. Before starting though, the relative positions of these should be marked on the wall or floor so your pipes end up in the right place.
  • If you are re-routing any gas pipes though, this MUST be carried out by a qualified CORGI/Gas Safe installer (most reputable plumbers are).

Plastering

  • If you have removed any partition walls, or installed cabling for ceiling lights and wall switches then you probably need the services of a plasterer. This is one of those trades that professionals make look so easy, but in reality, is anything but! My advice is to get someone in to do it rather than attempt it yourself unless it’s just small areas of patching. Now is the best time to get this work done as it’s a fairly messy process and the room will be clear. If your house is central heated then the plaster should be dry within 2-3 days depending on the depth.

Tall & wall units first

  • Okay, so your kitchen has been delivered and you’re ready to start fitting it. Make sure any old fixings, screws or nails are removed from the wall (there’s no need to go around filling rawlplug holes at this stage as most will be covered by the units anyway.)
  • If the new kitchen cabinets came flat-packed then you will need to assemble them. Concentrate on any larder and wall units first and get these built. If you’ve ever built a flatpack wardrobe before then this should be straightforward enough and once you’ve done one, the rest will be easy.
  • If you are installing any larder units or tall appliance housings then these will likely dictate the height of your wall units. These are normally placed at the start of a run and are the best place to start anyway. If none are to be fitted, then most wall units are fixed at about 450-500mm above worktop height (see below).
    Wall units are attached in a slightly different way to base units and will normally come with brackets that are attached to the wall first. Then the unit is hung on the brackets and adjusted for height and level from inside. Installing your wall units first saves you from having to stretch over a previously installed base unit, making it a lot easier on your back!

Base units, then worktops

  • Refer to your plan and mark on the wall what units go where. Next, mark the height your kitchen worktop will be (usually 870mm up from the floor - includes 150mm for the plinth) and use a spirit level to mark a horizontal line on the wall. Using this as your height guide, fix the units to the wall with L-shaped brackets, plugs and screws (usually supplied). Use the adjustable plastic legs to ensure all the units are the same height. If your units don't come with adjustable legs and sit directly on the floor, you may need to use packers to make the unit level. (Plastic packers can be bought in varying thicknesses from DIY shops or you could always use pieces of hardboard).

Tip: if you are having under-pelmet lighting it might be an idea to run a draw wire down the back of the appropriate wall unit(s) now, otherwise the electrician may struggle to connect the supply (which he probably left on top of the wall unit) to the light underneath.

  • If your kitchen layout is a straight line or galley design then worktop installation shouldn’t be too hard – there are no joints to make. If however you have an L or U-shaped kitchen then a professional fitter would be able to create an almost invisible joint using a special jig and a high-powered router. Tools you’re unlikely to have. A cheap and easy option is to use aluminium worktop joint strips. You will have to decide which you prefer depending on the look you are after and your budget.
    The cut-outs for the kitchen sink and hob should be within your abilities though – just make sure you do them with the worktop attached to the base units (otherwise it will probably crack when you lift it in place). Always use the template to mark the cut-out if one was supplied with the sink/hob. If not, make sure you don’t just lay the sink upside down on the worktop and mark round that – otherwise it’ll fall straight through the hole. I’ve seen it done. :-(

Plumber for sink, tap, dishwasher, washing machine & hob

  • After the plumbers ‘first fit’, you should arrange for him to come back at this stage to finish off connecting the tap, washing machine and dishwasher (if installed). He will connect up the hob too if it’s gas and test for any leaks. If you previously had an outside tap or want one fitted now’s a good time to ask.

We're on the home straight now - last day of installation tomorrow. See you then...