How to fit your own kitchen

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Ever considered fitting your own kitchen but want to know how?

If you're not employing a tradesman to fit your kitchen for you then a reasonable level of DIY competency is required. The carcasses we use are ready-assembled for you (with the exception of some units i.e. fridge freezer housing), making the process a lot quicker. We also have a wide range of door styles, finishes and colours for you to choose from.

Not only will you save hundreds of pounds by fitting a kitchen yourself, but you will also have a great sense of pride once it has been fitted.

So let's get started!

Fitting a new kitchen isn’t a ‘two minute job’ and requires a lot of tools :

Battery drill / driver plus wood and masonry drill bits, electricians screwdrivers, power / pipe detector, claw / lump hammers, bolster chisel, spirit level, pliers, side cutters, pump pliers, saw, Jigsaw, tape measure, sealant gun, square, marker pens/pencils.

Don’t forget safety equipment such as goggles

1. Remove your old kitchen

Remember to wear your safety goggles and begin by removing all the doors, drawers and shelves first, then remove any screws that are fixing the worktop(s) to the base units. If the worktop edges are under tiles you may have to remove some, if not all of them to ‘free up’ the worktop. Some old kitchens have the worktop glued to the base units so the only removal solution may be a lump hammer and crowbar.

The units themselves should be relatively easy to remove and come apart fairly easily but watch out for hidden cables and pipes! Once the water is turned off, the pipes cut and the sink unit removed, it is a good idea to fit in-line / gate valves to the remaining pipes, at least this enables the water to be turned back on, and fitting new pipework should hopefully not have to interrupt the water supply. Try and get some assistance when removing the wall units as they may be heavy or simply awkward to handle by yourself.

If you are disconnecting any electrical supplies, switch off the consumer unit and remove the fuse/ miniature circuit breaker as well, this reduces the chance of the circuit becoming ‘live’ if the consumer unit is switched back on by accident, double check the supply is ‘dead’ at the point of disconnection, if in doubt use the services of a qualified electrician as electric shocks can be fatal. Don’t attempt to disconnect any gas supplies, the law says this can only be carried out by a Gas Safe registered  plumber/engineer.

So now the kitchen area is cleared, any repairs to existing walls and floors can be carried out. Holes in walls for air extraction and waste pipes can drilled / knocked through, electrics and plumbing can be installed to suit your new kitchen, don’t forget electrical supplies for wall unit lighting and the extract fan if they aren’t already in position, usually when an oven and separate hob is installed the oven comes fitted with a 13amp plug top and may require the installation of an extra socket outlet, the electric hob is then connected to the cooker switch, as this can have a much higher current demand.

2. Check the level of the floor

Wherever the highest point of the floor is measure up 870mm and mark the wall, this measurement allows 720mm for the base unit and 150mm for the plinth. From your mark draw a level line using your spirit level across the wall(s), this is the guideline for all your base units, now measure up from the 870mm mark to the bottom of your wall units (this measurement is down to personal preference) , I would suggest 400 – 440mm, from this mark draw a level line across the wall(s), and finally measure up from the mark to the top of the wall units i.e. 720mm, and once more draw a level line across the wall(s). Now double check your lines are all level.

3. Begin installing your base units

We recommend you start fitting the units from the corner working out in both directions. So put your corner unit in place. Level it. Leave your service void gap and continue to add the rest of your base units. The sink base unit will of course require holes drilling to allow the water/waste pipes through to the bottom of the sink unit. Don’t fix the units to the wall until they are all in position and you are sure they are all level. Drill holes to bolt the units to hold them together and keep them flush. When all the base units are in place you're ready to move onto the wall units.

4. Fitting your wall units

In most cases you'll want the wall units to line up with the base units. Before fixing the wall units mark the wall with a vertical line from the edge of its corresponding base unit so you now have guideline for your first wall unit and it will line up with the base units below. Wall units usually come with two fixing brackets each. Measure where the fixing brackets need to be on the back of the wall unit in order for it to ‘hook on’, transfer the measurements to your wall and fix the brackets securely.

Use good quality fixings and in the case of plasterboard, use cavity fixings where the brackets don’t land on a wall stud.

Mount each wall unit checking them with a spirit level and making sure the edges are flush as you go along. They are adjustable via two screws inside either top corner of the wall unit, one screw raises or lowers the unit, the other pulls the unit tight against the fixing bracket and locks it in position.

5. Worktops

Fitting kitchen worktops requires assistance, not only for cutting them to length, but also because of their size and weight, the last thing you want to do is to damage one (or yourself!) when placing it on top of the new kitchen units. If you have a ‘U’ or ‘L’ shaped kitchen start with the centre or ‘back’ worktop. Before you cut the worktop to length measure along both the back and front edges of your base units just in case the walls are not quite square and transfer these measurements to your worktop. Double check your measurements and remember you can allow a few millimetres for any end that will have wall tiles overlapping the worktop edge, then do the cut. This can be done using a woodsaw, but a jigsaw certainly makes the task easier, just remember to use goggles and a face mask. If you can’t see your cutting mark on the worktop use masking tape and re-mark the cutting line. When positioning the worktops on the base units you may have to chase out a bit of plaster along the wall to allow the worktop front edge to line up with the base units. Ideally the worktop should extend over the base units front edge by an equal amount along its whole length.

Now measure the other worktop(s) again, across both the front and back edges of the base units and cut to size allowing for the joint strip. Seal the end of the worktop with either pva glue or clear sealant before fitting the joint strip to stop any future liquid spillage from damaging the worktop.

Try not to have the joint too near any of  the ends of the base units as the clamps may be difficult to gain access to and tighten up. Coloured jointing sealant should be put onto one edge of the two sections of worktop and as you tighten the clamps check constantly how flush the worktop edges are simply by touch, take care not to over-tighten the clamps as the finished edge of the worktop might start to ‘lift’ . When you are satisfied with the quality of the joint, clean away surplus joint sealant with the solvent that should be supplied with it. Incidentally the coloured sealant is very handy to mask any small chips or scratches that may unfortunately occur during the fitting of the worktop(s).

When you are satisfied the worktop(s) are sitting on the base units correctly you can mark out your cuts for the sink unit and hob. Once again use masking tape if you cannot see your marking out clearly. Usually the sink unit and hob will come with templates to mark the worktop for cutting out. But if there is no template the general rule is that the hole to be cut is around 5 – 10mm less than the circumference of the sink unit or the hob. The sink unit can be placed face down on the worktop, the circumference can be marked out, then reduce this cut by the appropriate measurement all round. The hob may have no template but should have the cut out dimensions supplied with it, these dimensions need to be marked out very accurately and make sure the hob is in the position you want it . Double check your measurements before making any cuts in the worktop. These cuts can then be made using a jigsaw. When you have completed the cuts and the worktop(s) are back in position they can be fixed using the screws supplied with the base units. Again seal the cut-outs of the worktops with pva glue or clear sealant prior to fitting the sink unit and hob.

6. Finishing the project

Fitting the hob and sink unit is fairly straightforward, both come with clips that hold them down tightly to the worktop. Hobs usually have a thin foam or rubber seal around the edge and this is sufficient to keep any liquids out. Only you know whether you are competent enough to reconnect the hob to the electrical supply. I would recommend you use a qualified electrician who will use the correct size / type of cable and connect the hob correctly for safe use. With gas hobs you should use a Gas safe registered  plumber/engineer to connect the hob to the gas supply.

Before fitting the sink unit, if possible fit the tap(s) with two flexible water pipes to it, each around 30cm long (which will save a lot of time when reconnecting the pipework) and also run a bead of clear sealant approximately 6 – 8mm thick under the edge of the sink unit which should be more than adequate to keep out any liquid, then position the sink unit in place and tighten the clips until it is secure. Be careful not to over-tighten the clips as they tend to ping off and are difficult to refit. Remove any excess sealant from the outer edge of the sink unit. Now you can fit the waste pipework and finish plumbing in the water pipes to the tap. Now the plinths can be cut to length and fitted, they usually attach to the base unit legs via plastic clips that are fixed to the reverse side of the plinth. The cornice and pelmet can also be cut to length. Using a mitre saw power tool can give a very good quality, clean cut and therefore a better finish, especially if any angled cuts are required. Don’t forget the goggles and face mask. You may want to wait before cutting the pelmet to length as any tiled walls could alter its required length. Both the cornice and pelmet can be fitted to the wall units using fixing blocks with of course the correct size screws. Wall unit lights can be fitted, but again you may wish to wait until any tiling has been completed.

When finishing off the new kitchen its worth sealing any gaps at the back of the worktops with clear sealant so there is less risk of water damage before the wall(s) are tiled. Any small gaps between the kitchen units and the wall(s) can be filled using cuts of decorative clad end panel, doing this gives the kitchen a more professional finish.

Kitchen jargon explained

Base unit or Highline - a base unit fitted with a door only

Drawline - A base cabinet fitted with both a door and a drawer fascia. Th drawer is available as a working drawer or as a dummy fascia

Drawer pack unit - A base unit made of a row of drawers

End panel - An optional panel that usually matches the finish of the unit doors and is attached at the end of a run of cabinets

Breakfront - A design feature which allows for cabinets to protrude forward from the main run of cabinets

Plinth - A long panel that is fitted to the bottom of the base cabinets. It sits a little way back from the unit doors and is sometimes referred to as a ‘kick board’

Pelmet - A decorative profile designed to fit to the underside of wall cabinets

Cornice or Light pelmet - A decorative profile designed to fit on the top of wall and tall cabinets

Mantel - a large over cooker accessory feature that creates the look of an open chimney breast

Corbel - A decorative shelf support matched to the finish of the door

Radius Feature End - A decorative curved component fitted to the side of a cabinet to create a design feature

Pilaster - A decorative post usually used in a traditional style kitchen

Island - A range of freestanding base units usually placed in the centre of a large kitchen

Peninsula - An arrangement of cabinets usually attached at one end to either a wall or the main cabinet run

When to buy end panels

This depends on the door style that you have opted for as most of the carcases match the doors almost identically.

Some people do buy an end panel if they know the unit isn't going to butt up to a wall. An end panel can also be used to fill a small gap of about 20mm but a cheaper alternative would be to use a filler or a piece of plinth.

There will be an option in your basket to tick whether or not you require full height end panel for each unit. This will colour match the carcase only. On base units this end panel will go right down to the floor negating the need to purchase plinth for that side.

For high gloss or painted doors

In a high gloss kitchen it will be beneficial to purchase matching end panels for these as the carcases have a matt finish and would look dull against a gloss door.

You may also consider buying end panels for painted kitchens as they will be colour matched.

In some ranges there are tongue & groove end panels available which will add an extra decorative feature to your kitchen.

Well, what are you waiting for?

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