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HOW TO


INSTALLING KITCHEN CABINETS

WHEN REMODELING A KITCHEN
There are many things you can do to minimize costs:
• Do most of the work yourself.
• Keep the same basic floor plan.
• Minimize appliance purchases.
However, if you're going through the work and expense of installing new cabinets, you might consider redesigning your kitchen for better efficiency. Keep in mind, that a complete remodel will likely put your kitchen out of service for a week and often much longer.

When laying out a new kitchen, it is very important to make a scaled floor plan that takes into account such things as kitchen cabinets traffic flow, convenience, and accessibility. This drawing should also include all height and width measurements, location of outlets, wiring, plumbing, windows, and doors. Pay particular attention to the necessary clearances for doors and drawers, especially in corners and around appliances.
Your local home store may also offer a computerized design service that will provide you with custom designs to fit your measurements and specifications.
Every efficient kitchen should have three distinct areas of equipment and ideally they should be arranged in a triangular pattern. That is�in a floor plan�the lines drawn between the range, refrigerator, and sink should be in triangular configuration. This is nown as the kitchen's work triangle.
A kitchen triangle works in just about any design shape: U-shape, L-shape, or galley/corridor (Fig. 1).
Since the logical working and walking pattern is from refrigerator to sink to range, try to put the refrigerator at the triangle point nearest the door where you bring in the groceries. Position the range at the point near the serving and dining area, and position the sink at the point between the other two.
To establish the triangle, measure from the center of the sink to the center of the refrigerator to the center of the range and back to the sink. For the most efficiency, the total triangle measurement should be between 12 and 22 feet-with no single arm measuring less than 54 inches or more than 87 inches.
This triangle represents the sequence of work from one activity center to the next-from storage to washing, and food preparation to cooking, and serving to clean up. If possible, miscellaneous activities and traffic flow should not cross through he work triangle.

Cabinet and Appliance Planning. Once the triangle has been established, the cabinets can be arranged. There are three basic kinds of cabinets: base, wall, and miscellaneous. The third category includes a wide variety of ingenious storage facilities including
o tray holders
o broom cabinets
o oven cabinets
o pantry cabinets
o refrigerator cabinets
o Lazy Susan corner cabinets
o fruit and vegetable bins

Despite this, base-cabinet and counter-top heights and depths rarely vary due to the standard heights of ranges and built-in dishwashers. Wall cabinets, typically 12 inches deep and either 30 or 36 inches tall, are installed at 18 and 15 inches above the counter, respectively, and may have a closed soffit above (Fig.2). You may choose 42-inch cabinets that extend to the ceiling to provide high storage of infrequently used items.
While open shelves make access easier and offer attractive display space, they can be dust and grease collectors. Also, herbs and spices displayed above the range look nice, but heat can rob them of their flavor. To reduce counter space clutter, some items can be stored on hanging racks and wall mounted wire storage racks.
REMOVING OLD CABINETS
Remove old kitchen cabinets carefully, keeping in mind that they can often be reused in a workshop, garage, or laundry room. If they were built on site, they may be nearly impossible to salvage in one piece. Many old countertops were glued and screwed down, so it may take some real prying to remove them.
1. First remove any contents from the cabinets and the countertop.
2. Shut off water lines to the sink and disconnect the stove and refrigerator. We recommend that you move the refrigerator out of the work area while remodeling is being done.
3. Remove the upper cabinets. Have someone hold the cabinets or use a jig such as the one shown (Fig. 3). Most cabinets are usually fastened to neighboring cabinets with screws through the face frame or sides (frameless cabinets).
4. Remove countertops. They are usually attached to the base cabinets from underneath with screws or nails. Sometimes, the fasteners are hidden under the countertop surface and removal may cause damage to the countertop and cabinets.
5. If the countertop to be removed includes a sink and/or garbage disposal, first disconnect the plumbing and wiring. Be sure to turn the power and water off before disconnecting the lines. Also, place a bucket under the drain traps to catch residual water.
Note: If the disposal is hard-wired, first turn off the power at the breaker and remove the wiring according to the manufacturer's instructions.
6. Remove base cabinets. Many base cabinets are fastened together to make the frames flush. Look for any screws or nails between face frame stiles. Never pry between the wall and the cabinet. This could cause a break in the wall surface or pipes and other hidden items that could rupture.

PREPARING THE AREA
After the old cabinets have been removed, check for uneven floors and walls.
1. Using a straight length of 2x4 and a carpenter's level, check the floor for high spots. Check all around the room within 22 inches of the walls where base cabinets will be installed.
2. Locate the highest point on the floor, measure up the height of the base cabinets, and make a mark on the wall.
3. Snap a level chalk line around the room at that mark, using a simple water level or a 4-foot level on top of a straight board.
4. Check the wall surfaces with a straight board. Unevenness can cause cabinets to be misaligned, resulting in "racking" or twisting of doors and drawer fronts. Where these uneven spots interfere, high spots can sometimes be removed by shaving or sanding off excess plaster or drywall. Low spots can be shimmed.
5. Mark the location of wall studs, using a stud finder or by tapping on the wall to locate a "solid" sound.

INSTALLING BASE CABINETS
Whether you install base cabinets first is a matter of choice. Some professionals like to install the wall cabinets first so they won't have to reach over the lower units to install the upper units. Others like to install base cabinets first-it allows them to determine an exact height above the base cabinets. The installation sequence is the same regardless of which method you use.
Note: It is important that cabinets are set level. The doors will not swing properly or align with other doors if the cabinet is out of level.
1. Position the base cabinets, starting with the corner cabinet.
2. Position and shim the corner cabinet to the level line. Screw the cabinet to the wall, using wood screws long enough to sink well into the studs.

3. Install the next base cabinet in the same manner. Using two "C" clamps, clamp the vertical frame members (stiles) tightly together, making sure the horizontal frame members form a level and straight line. Also, make sure that the frame faces are flush.
4.
After drilling countersunk pilot holes, screw adjoining frames together (Fig. 4).

5.
Continue installing base cabinets next to each other, and at the end of the cabinet run attach filler strips as needed. Fillers are scribed and cut to fit the remaining space between cabinet end and wall. Fasten the filler to the cabinet stile with countersunk screws. Use glue with thin filler strips.
INSTALLING A COUNTERTOP
Countertops are usually made of 3/4-inch high density particleboard or A-INT plywood, with ceramic tile or plastic laminate installed over the top. Natural materials like marble and granite, as well as new synthetic materials (which often mimic natural materials), are also good choices for countertops, but often expensive. Many home stores and building material outlets sell post-formed countertops (with integral backsplash and nosing) (Fig. 5) in a range of lengths and a variety of laminate patterns and colors. Left and right mitered corners (with hardware to join them tightly) are available, as well as matching iron-on end caps to cover up end cuts. The following instructions are for fitting, cutting, and attaching a post-formed L-shaped countertop (with pieces bought at your home store):
1. Starting at the corner, position the left and right mitered top pieces on the base cabinets, making sure the corner joint is tight and the front overhang is consistent.
2. For a tight fit to both walls, scribe the contour of the walls to the top of the backsplash. A simple compass, set to the width of the widest gap, works fine.
3. Remove pieces and trim to the scribe line with a sharp block plane or belt sander.
4. Reposition pieces and check fit. Make sure the corner joint is tight.
5. Mark the overhang on the ends of the countertop pieces.
6. Remove top pieces and cut to length. To prevent chipping, run a piece of masking tape over the cut line and cut from the bottom, using a circular saw with a sharp blade. Guide your saw along a straight edge.
Note: Your home store or countertop shop may be able to cut your pieces to length for a small fee.
7. Cover the cuts with preformed iron-on ends (instructions included with pieces).
8. Reposition pieces. You will need to block them up high enough to tighten the corner joint draw bolts. Before bolting, apply a bead of yellow glue to the joint.
9. Tighten bolts, remove blocking, and lower the top into position. Tap a block of wood along the corner joint to flush the two surfaces.
10. Attach the top from underneath, screwing through the diagonal bracing in the top of the base cabinets. Make sure the screws do not penetrate the countertop surface.
You are now ready to install the sink.

INSTALLING WALL CABINETS
Installing upper or wall cabinets is similar to installing the base cabinets. However, the height from the counter area and the fit to a soffit or ceiling must also be taken into account (Fig. 6).

1. Measure up from the countertop (15 to 18 inches) and snap a level chalk line marking the bottom of the wall cabinets.
2. Build a jig to hold the wall cabinets the correct height off the countertop (Fig. 3).
3. Mark wall stud locations on the wall, above and below the cabinets.
4. Predrill the corner cabinet back at the stud locations, through the top and bottom mounting rails. Start the screws before raising the cabinet.
5. Lift the upper corner cabinet onto the jig and work it into position. Use shims behind screw locations to plumb the cabinet, and make sure the bottom of cabinet is on the chalk line (Fig. 7). Attach the cabinet to the wall studs with 2-1/2-in. screws.

6.Install the next cabinet in the same manner. Clamp, align, and screw together adjoining face frames (see the base installation section).
7. Check the doors for swing and alignment and adjust if necessary.



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Updated: 07/2017   copyright 2012 U-Repair.com