DIY Kitchen Remodelling

How to remodel a Kitchen

In remodelling your kitchen, the first step to remove all the old cabinets.  Start with the kitchen base units or floor units. You should be able to do that yourself without enlisting help. Next, remove any flooring that might have stuck to the kickboards under the cabinets and turn off the water and electricity supplies if the pipes are inside the cabinets.  At this point disconnect and remove the old kitchen sink.  Take out or disconnect any electrics or water pipes from beneath the sink cabinet so that the sink is free. 

Depending on the type of counter top, you can unscrew and remove the old counter top, cutting it up if necessary. Take off any moulding, knobs etc from the kitchen cabinets. Find the nails and screws inside the cabinet and use a hammer's claw or a screwdriver to remove all the nails and screws, first from the wall then from off the floor.  You do this from the walls first so that you don't catch yourself on then as you bend over.

When all the kitchen base units are removed, start taking down the wall cabinets. You should have someone to help you remove the kitchen cabinets whole. One of you support the cabinet while one of you unscrews or prises the nails out of the kitchen cabinets and the walls and ceiling. Slowly lift the kitchen cabinet down after you have removed all the screws/nails.

With all the old kitchen cabinets removed, clean the walls, repair the plaster if necessary and paint the walls before you begin to install new kitchen cabinets. You probably don't need to be told this, but let the paint dry first before you install any kitchen cabinets.

The upper cabinets should be fixed into place first without the base cabinets being fitted, to give you room to stand underneath them.  You will find contractors or others saying to install the base cabinets first to align the top units with the base units but if you have a detailed plan, just stick with it.

Start in the corner and work your way out so you know then end cabinet will fit.  When mounting the upper cabinet, make sure the first cabinet is level, square and plumb because everything else will follow this.  When securing the cabinet, there should be a screw/nailing board in the back of the cabinet at the top and bottom, make sure to use that board when attaching to the walls.  Also, make sure to know where the wall studs are to get the cabinets firmly attached to the walls. 

A good tip if installing cabinets yourself is to make a ‘dead man'.  A dead man is two pieces of a wall stud made in the shape of a ‘T' with the top of the ‘T' at the proper height for the bottom of the cabinet to balance on.  This way you only need to apply pressure holding the cabinet against the wall and not have to hold up as well.  With the first cabinet mounted, put the second cabinet in place on top of the dead man.  This time before securing to the wall, use quick clamp, or spring clamps and clamp the two cabinets together aligning the face frame.  You may have to remove the cabinet doors beforehand to do this. 

Make sure you have enough clamps to keep the entire cabinet face flush and the bottoms perfectly aligned.  With the cabinet face aligned, drill and counter sink three pilot holes.  Drilling from the hinged side will help hide the holes and in some case you may be able to drill the holes behind the hinges.  After the holes are pre-drilled, screw the cabinets together and make sure the screw head is counter sunk.  After the cabinet is screwed together, remove the clamps and make sure everything stays aligned.  With the face frame securely fastened, you may need to shim the cabinet it is does not sit flush on the wall.  You do not want to force it as this will open a gap between the two face frames of the cabinets.  After the cabinet sits tight on the wall, make sure to locate the wall studs and secure this cabinet to the wall.  Slowly work your way around securing the upper cabinets together first then to the wall until they are all mounted. If you have to leave a space for a vent hood, measure, measure and then re-measure to make sure everything will fit tight and align properly.  After everything is secured, go back and trim any shims that maybe exposed.

Now, with all the base cabinets un-packed, it is time to find the height at which all the base cabinets will align to.  To do this you need to find the highest point on the floor using the longest level you have.  Once the highest point on the floor is found, measure up on the wall the exact base cabinet height to establish the proper height.  Using your level, mark the walls with this measurement.  This is done to have a nice uniform installation so the countertop will sit firmly on all the cabinets.   Before starting it would be good to remove the doors and drawers to make moving and screwing the base units together easier.  

Starting in the corner again, slide the first base cabinet into place.  Again, make sure the unit is up to the line on the wall, top is level, and the base cabinet face frame is plumb.  You may have to shim the unit on the wall depending on how flat the walls are.  With everything level and tight, screw the unit to the wall using the nailing strip on the back top of the cabinet.  With the fist base unit in place, position the next base cabinet next to the first one and clamp the two face frames together using the same method as done previously on the upper cabinets. 

Clamp the face frames tight, flush and level at the top shimming the bottom and back of the cabinet where needed so everything is solid to the floor and wall.  Again, as before, pre-drill and counter bore the frame on the hinge side and screw the two base cabinets together making sure the screw heads are counter sunk. With the two cabinets firmly attached and the second base cabinet solid to the wall, secure this unit to the wall making sure to locate the wall stud to get the unit mounted properly. 

Follow these same steps to continue mounting the base cabinets, first attach the base cabinet to the previous cabinet, then to the wall.  For the sink base cabinet, you will have to locate the plumbing supply lines and drain, measure there location and transfer them to the base cabinet.  The supply lines and drain pipe will either be coming up from the floor, or coming out of the wall.  In either case, measure twice and cut once.  A suggestion would be to make the holes for the supply and drain pipes a little smaller to give you room to move the base cabinet around when shimming it.   With all the base cabinets installed, for this project, we will use a one piece pre-formed laminate counter top. 

Before installing the new counter top, you need to put the counter top in place for a dry fit and to mark for the sink opening.  With the sink opening marked, remove the top and use the template provided with your new sink to get the exact measurement and cut out the opening.  Wither the sink hole cut, now would be the best time to install the new sink along with the sink hardware before the counter top is installed. 

With the sink installed it would be best to try one more dry fit and make sure everything aligns before mounting the new top.  With everything aligned, remove the top one more time and run a small bead of caulk along the top of the base cabinets as a ‘bed' for the new top to sit on.  This will help stop any potential squeaks between the counter top and the base cabinets.  With the top placed back into position, from the inside of the base cabinets you need to screw the top in place.  In the corners of each base cabinet along the top you will see small triangle pieces the look like they are there to keep the base cabinets square, but these are also used to mounting hardware to screw up through these blocks and into the counter top to securely fasten it down. 

Please note, make sure the screws you use are not too long because you do not want any chance of the screws popping out the top and ruining your new counter top.  With the top now installed, one last item to address to give your new kitchen cabinets that finished look.  At the bottom of the base cabinets there is most likely gaps between the base frame and the floor from shimming everything to the line marked on the wall.  To finish this off, use a quarter piece of material cut to length, miter the corners if this will need to wrap around the side of any base cabinets, and nail in place.  If hand nailing, pre-drill for the nail so you do not split the quarter round stock.