DIY Kitchen - Installing your own Kitchen using Flat Pack
This guide gives you a run down on how I took one old kitchen, and with the help of some flat pack kitchen units, a father (Andy Taylor) who knows about these things*, and a bit of effort, turned it into a brand new kitchen, in just a couple of weekends.
This is not intended to be a comprehensive DIY guide to installing kitchens, just a description of how I installed my Kitchen, and what pitfalls to look out for.
*okay, okay, basically I watched...
Remove the Old Kitchen
Decorating the Kitchen
Installing Kitchen Wall Units
Installing Kitchen Base Units
Remove the Old Sink
Installing the Kitchen Worktop
Fitting the New Sink
Fitting the Doors and Finishing
This was definately the fun bit, removing all the old kitchen units! Most of the kitchen units were pretty old and in a poor state of repair. However once the doors had been removed I managed to resist the tempation to just smash them to bits and chuck them out of the kitchen window. The old kitchen cupboard units were carefully removed and stacked up in the shed to make an excellent 'walk in wardrobe' for all my old garden tools, paint pots and other bits and bobs. However one or two of the kitchen base units proved to be a little stubborn, and those were sorted out using a few sharp 'taps' with a lump hammer.
The kitchen sink unit was left in place for the time being, dont mess around with the plumbing until you really have to!
With the kitchen practically bare, now is the time to sort out the cracks and the holes, and to give the whole thing a good lick of paint. With no kitchen units installed, and with a floor that is going to be covered with kitchen lino, the paint can be sploshed around to your hearts content!
Preparation is the key to painting any room, and the kitchen is no exception:
Polyfiller the Kitchen
First of all fill in all those gaps, cracks and holes with some quick setting polyfiller, I would recommend the stuff that you can get in the squeezy tubes, far less hassle than mixing the stuff up yourself.
Once the polyfiller has dried, sand it down flat to the walls. At this point you may find that some areas my need a little bit of touching up.
Clean the Kitchen
Now go over the whole kitchen walls and ceiling with a fine piece of sandpaper, you are aiming to get as much as the grease and grime off before you apply another layer of paint. Now hoover up as much dust as you can, and then scrub the kitchen walls and ceiling with some suger soap to try to remove the last bits of dirt at dust.
Paint the Kitchen
Buy good quality kitchen paint! Go for a good known brand, not the DIY stores own brand and make sure it is forkitchen and bathrooms, otherwise you might end up with cracked and peeling paint in a few years time.
Mask off any areas that you dont want to get the paint on and then begin. Apply using the usual painting tools, I find a roller better than the pads, but it is a matter of personal preferance. You can either cover the entire walls, or just the areas that will be visible after the kitchen is installed.
Let the paint dry for a couple of hours, and then see if you need to apply a second coat. (I found the lovely lime green paintwork that was there previously still showed through in some places, but it depends on how much of a colour change you have gone for)
Take a well earned break and leave the kitchen for the day.
The flat pack wall units are a dream to put up! Just assemble the kitchen wall units one at a time, and then use their fantastic little mounting system to get them in the correct places on the wall. The mounting is a little hard to describe, but basically you need to screw two hooking plates to the wall in roughly the right place (i.e to within 10mm or better), and then just hook the unit onto these plates. Then with a screwdriver you can adjust the fixings to pull the unit up close to the wall and adjust each height to get the whole thing level. Do take the effort to get each unit level, it will make sure they butt up nicely to one another and the doors will line up correctly!
Again these are very easy to assemble on their own, and then they just need to be placed in the correct position. Instead of the wall mountings you have 4-6 'feet' that need to be adjusted to get the units level. It is absolutely essential that you get these kitchen units level!!! Use the biggest longest spirit level you have, and make sure each and every kitchen unit is installed level with all the others. If you make sure they are level now, it will be a lot easier when it comes to fitting the worktop! Finally fix the base units to the wall using some sturdy screws.
TURN OFF THE WATER!!! If you are lucky enough to have a water meter then you will be able to turn the water off just before the meter. Otherwise you may have to turn the mains water off from outside (there will be a valve underneath a 30mm x 30mm metal plate somewhere near the front of your house).
Now go upstairs and turn off the hot and cold water valves that feed the water tanks. If you have a bathroom upstairs then open these taps and allow the water to run dry, leave these taps ON for the time being.
Back downstairs and do the same with the kitchen taps. Finally back upstairs (you may want to catch your breath at this point) and turn the upstairs taps OFF. You have now drained all the water out of the pipework and it should be safe to start messing with the plumbing. You should make sure that all taps in the house are now off, so that when the water does come back on you dont accidentaly flood your bathroom.
Back into the kitchen, undo all of the old plumbing works that you can by hand (you might need a bucket or towel to catch a few drips of water), and then cut the old tap pipes off as close to the taps as you can.
Pull out the kitchen sink and the remaining worktop and chuck out the window (rather fun!).
Put the final kitchen base unit in place. You may need to cut and chop holes in this unit to get around the plumbing, water meter etc.
You now need to install the new worktop before putting the new kitchen sink in.
This can be the tricky bit. Kitchens come in all shapes and sizes, and are often not completely square, so the worktop will often have to be cut and trimmed to fit correctly. The kichen worktop itself is also quite large and heavy and can be easily damaged. This is not a job to tackle on your own, or in a rush!
Measure out each wall that the worktop is going to go along. Measure the length that the worktop needs to be both from the front and the back. If you are lucky all your kitchen walls with be completely square, but you will often find that your walls are skewed. If this is the case, measure out the lengths and mark up the worktop very carefully. Cut the kitchen worktop using a jigsaw with a down cutting wood blade to avoid chipping the worktop surface. Dont forget that if you are going to tile the kitchen you can leave 3-5mm either end as the tiles will cover this gap.
Measure out the hole that will be required for the kitchen sink. You may have a template, or might just have to measure out the correct dimensions. Again cut using a down cutting wood blade.
Now drop all of the worktop into place, smear any parts that are going to be jointed together with special coloured sealing glue. If your base units are all completely level then they should line up reasonably well. Spend a few moments tapping the kitchen worktops into place, and if any bits need to join up make sure that they are butted together seamlessly. Join any worktops together either by using some metal plates, or the special joining bolts that may have been supplied.
Drop the kitchen sink into the correctly cut hole. You may have to chop some extra bits out of the base unit to make it fit correctly. Most sinks come with little 'clips' that need to be clamped to the worktop from underneath. You may find that the worktop or the kitchen base unit need to be trimmed back a little to allow these catches to be fixed properly.
Doing the Kitchen Plumbing
This part again requires a little bit of thought. The job is made easier by new quick fit plumbing kits, but you still need to take care to ensure that you dont get any leaks. Plan out the whole plumbing routing before starting to assemble anything. You need to leave enough space for the sink trap, and the sink outlet pipe should gently slope towards the main sewage pipe. Make sure that you have space to feed a dishwasher/washing machine into the drainage if required.
Some taps may require a non-return valve on the hot supply, to prevent cold water being forced into your hot water tank. Put some inline valves for the hot and cold taps just so that you have the option of switching them off at a later date.
Once you are happy with all the plumbing and are fairly certain there are no leaks then start turning the water back on. It is best to start with the hot water pipe as this is under much less pressure and so will be less of a disaster if you have forgotten to tighten up any of the fittings.
Once the water is back on, turn the taps on in the kitchen. They will splutter and stutter as all of the air is forced out of the system. Now check all the pipes for leaks now that there is no air in the system.
Half fill the sink with water and then allow that to drain away, again checking for leaks.
Breathe a sigh of relief as all the difficult stuff is now done. You just need to fix the doors and the plinth on and you are done. The doors just require the handles being fitted in the correct place, and the hinges being screwed on to the doors and the kitchen units. The kitchen doors will then just slot into place, and some adjustments will need to be made to get them level and to open and close properly. You should be able to do this by tinkering with the screws on the hinges themselves, depending on the design.
The final stage is to put the plinth on, this just needs to be cut to length, a few mounting clips placed in the right places, and then just pushed on!
Hey presto, a new kitchen!
(well now you will probably need to fit a new floor and do some tiling, but we will leave that for another day)
How to Fit a Kitchen
by Alastair Taylor
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"Great article and guidance for fitting your own kitchen!"
"Phew! Your\'re the only one suggesting you don\'t need £100\'s of router etc etc to cut a kitchen worktop! Measure twice (or 3 times, or 4 times) and cut once. Wish me luck!"
"reading your guide really helped me alot and seeing as my kitchen is 27 foot long i got it done i little over a week...thats 18 cabinets,3 work tops and all white goods in..all i have to do now is hook up the lighting..cherrs mate"
"You can't beat critism can you Alistair! I myself would like to say that for a first timer trying to help people out from the problems you found yourself in - Well Done, not a bad effort at all!"
"We're soon to start ripping out our old kitchen (sunflower yellow and royal blue - yuk!) and putting in the new one ourselves. Thanks for this handy description, it'll make a good start to writing our own plan of works. Hope it all turned out well. "
"Hi, we are 3/4 way through doing our kitchen and this is really good. I now feel more confident in installing our worktop. I wish I'd found this site sooner! Many thanks. PS I don't think this is superficial at all - for anyone doing it themselves, you need to have some experience in DIY before you get started! My only criticism is that is taking us 2 weeks rather than a couple of weekends! "
"Logic tells me that the floor should be sorted out before the base units (with legs) are fitted and not left till last."
"What a brilliant page - I am half way throug getting my kitchen done using a handymans help but I wish I had read this earlier it explains it all so well - everything except the electrics"
"Hi Arthur, to write a fully detailed DIY kitchen guide would require more than a couple of pages of writing I agree. But please note that in the first paragraph I state "This is not intended to be a comprehensive DIY guide to installing kitchens, just a description of how I installed my Kitchen, and what pitfalls to look out for.""
"This seemed rather superficial - more detail is required !"
A B Arthur