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by Bret Spottke Please CLICK HERE to review my book on Amazon Kindle, Thanks! - Bret
Table of Contents
My Kitchen Remodeling Project Diary
The adventure begins Complete budget numbers breakdown How I designed my kitchen layout How to simplify your material and color selections Kitchen cabinet selection Choosing cabinet hardware Why we chose laminate countertops How to install laminate countertops in 7 simple steps and save $1500 My "almost" mistake selecting appliances Hardwood flooring selection adventure Hardwood flooring installation How to save $1,000 plus on your hardwood flooring installation The kitchen sink dilemma Faucets cost how much? Forget that!
Ikea Kitchen Installation Guide
Preparing for your Ikea kitchen remodel Getting your kitchen design layout right Placing your kitchen cabinet order with Ikea Taking delivery of your Ikea cabinet order Staging you cabinets for construction Building your Ikea kitchen boxes Preparing for kitchen demolition Planning the cabinet installation How to phase your cabinet installation How to install the Ikea cabinet suspension rail Clamping techniques for cabinet installation How to install Ikea upper cabinets How to install Ikea base cabinets How to make a peninsula with Ikea cabinets Cabinet door and hinge installation tips Ikea drawer box assembly tutorial Interior cabinet hardware and accessories The Ikea Lazy Susan cabinet The Ikea pullout pantry Pullout garbage cabinet The perfect storm The Brain Trust
Please CLICK HERE to review my book on Amazon Kindle, Thanks! - Bret
The adventure begins
or... "How a regular guy with two kids, a full time job, a few good power tools, and a sense of humor -with a little help from his dad- completed a kitchen remodeling project on a shoestring budget without going stark raving mad!" If people in your house are starting to question your sanity, and wondering why you ever considered starting a kitchen remodeling project...or, if your kids think they're living in a war zone (like mine did)...
Hi Daddy!... Where did the kitchen go? Don't feel bad, I felt the same way when I tackled my own kitchen remodeling project. In fact, more than once, I clearly recall my head spinning around my neck like that girl from the exorcist!
Before you throw your hands up in disgust and decide you'll never complete your kitchen remodeling project, get some practical money saving advice from someone who's been through it already, and lived to tell the tale! To give you a better feel for the "quality" of my existing kitchen cabinets and counter tops, let's travel back in time to 1987, and listen in on the following conversation between the original home owner and the builder when my house was nearing completion... Original Home Owner: How much does it cost to put in a decent kitchen in a new house? Contractor: About $15,000, for the cabinets, and $4500 for the counters and $3000 for the flooring and… Original Home Owner: What can you do for $500???
Existing 1987 Dream Kitchen (ahem) Pre-Remodel The next picture shows my kitchen remodeling project 100% completed, can you see the difference?
Kitchen Remodel @ 100% Completion The first thing you'll probably notice is that I ditched the old worn-out, crappy, balsa wood "oak" cabinets, and replaced them with more modern birch cabinets from Ikea. The layout is pretty similar, although I did add a peninsula (that you can see in the foreground of this picture) I also upgraded the counter tops with Butter Rum Granite Laminate, added Mirage Sapele hardwood floors, and changed out the tired almond and black appliances with new stainless steel Energy Star Maytag appliances. Quite the transformation, huh? But I'll bet you're wondering how much it cost? Not as much as you'd expect, I did the entire job for $13,133 dollars - and yes that includes the exotic Sapele Hardwood Flooring that extends all the way into my dining room (I was even able to have a professional install the floors (and save $1000) and have the counter tops installed on site by a professional (and save over $1500) and stay on budget! I'm sure you'll get tons of great money saving and time saving ideas by following my manual. It includes everything from tutorials on building cabinet boxes, or installing a dishwasher to choosing the right appliances and assembling drawer boxes. Remember, even if you learn just one lesson from my book, it could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your project! Are you ready to get started?...Good! Let’s Go!
Complete budget numbers breakdown
Find out exactly how much it cost to put together my kitchen, and discover a few tips along the way that could save you thousands of dollars when you do your own remodel. Ikea Kitchen Cabinets - $4018 The biggest savings on my kitchen remodeling project were realized on the HUGE savings we got by using Ikea Cabinets. If we had gone the traditional route and bought from Home Depot or a local kitchen and bath place the cabinets alone would've cost $10,000 - $12,000 dollars minimum! Ikea Cabinet Delivery - $135 Having the cabinet order delivered was the best money I spent during the entire remodel. Sure, you could go rent a truck and make 2-3 trips to Ikea and do it yourself - and waste a whole day doing it - but why bother doing that when for a measly $135 they'll do all the dirty work for you? Stainless Steel Appliances - $2168 I almost made the mistake of designing my kitchen around a white refrigerator that I dragged along from my old house. Luckily we pulled out heads out of our butts an decided to get new stainless steel appliances from Maytag. We ordered a new refrigerator, range, microwave, dishwasher and garbage disposal we ordered them all at once and saved $758! Order you appliances early to make sure they're ready when you're getting toward the end of your remodel. Any good appliance store will take your order and hold the appliances until you're ready for them. Butter Rum Formica Laminate Counter Tops - $952 We decided against blowing $4500 on Silestone and got some nice laminate counter tops instead and had them built on site. Make sure you compare pricing on laminate because it's all over the map. We got ours built on site (highly recommended for a quality job) for $952. Our highest bid for identical counters from another contractor was $2492! I'll say it again, SHOP AROUND FOR PRICING or you could be getting ripped off! Mirage Sapele Hardwood Flooring - $5135 My wife insisted on putting in nice flooring - and I'm very glad I listened to her because the hardwood floors we had installed in the kitchen, entryway and dining room look
unbelievable! We saved over $1200 dollars on the hardwood flooring by finding a local contractor to install them and buying the wood through a wholesale club. Electrical- $225 There wasn't much need for extensive electrical work in the new kitchen. The biggest chunk of the electrical budget ($150) was eaten up by having an electrician install an outlet in the peninsula. The remaining $75 was spent on a new light over the peninsula, and some stainless steel cover plates for all the outlets. Misc. Tools, Hardware and Stuff - $500 The little stuff like screws, plumbing parts, hardware, tools and supplies can really add up in a hurry. Plan on budgeting some money for your kitchen remodel on the small stuff that you need to make the job run smoother. You'll thank me later. Kitchen Remodeling Budget Grand Total - $13,133
How I designed my kitchen layout
How I designed my kitchen remodeling project, a complete retrospective of the design process including initial concept drawings and construction layout. You'd think that planning a small kitchen design would be a piece of cake, right? I discovered that it's much more difficult to design a space for your own home than it is to do it for someone else. I figured that since I do design work at an Architectural Firm by day, my design would come out right on the first attempt...yeah right! Getting your Kitchen Design Right The problem with doing your own design, is that you have to live with your choices everyday. There is no passing the buck, or dodging phone calls if you screw it up, the blame falls directly on your shoulders. A wise man once said, "Measure twice, and cut once." With those words of wisdom in mind, here is a breakdown of my kitchen remodeling design process starting with schematics, and ending with a usable, buildable kitchen design. Schematic Design Process The first drawings you see below are schematics, that means there is very little detail. The idea in schematics is to do a rough layout of the space to see if it will work. When a functional design layout has been established, it's the time to get into the details of cabinet placement, appliance location, flooring options and the other fun stuff. Schematic Kitchen Design Option #1
Schematic Kitchen Design Option #1 Ironically enough, my first attempted kitchen design is pretty close to the final design that was built. The shaded areas on the right and bottom area counter tops, and the block on the left is a bank of pantry cabinets. Schematic Kitchen Design Option #2
Schematic Kitchen Design Option #2 On my second attempt, I tried a kitchen design with an island in the middle. The right side of the kitchen remained the same. The left side stretched down to the bottom to provide an area for a work desk or additional prep area. Although I thought having a kitchen island would be really cool (and is the trend right now) it wasn't a good design option for our space. Due to the width of my kitchen, I couldn't squeeze in any seating and still maintain enough isle space for cooking and workflow. Detailed Kitchen Design Option #3
Detailed Kitchen Design Option #3 After deciding that the island concept was out, I went back to the peninsula kitchen design from option #1. I fleshed out the design more in this option and added actual cabinet widths, appliance locations and seating options. Design Option #3 - Trouble in Paradise After falling in love with my new kitchen design, I decided to do some investigation around the house to determine if this design would be "buildable". In other words, I had to find out what was inside the walls so I could take out a section on the right side for seating. After a couple hours of investigation my dad and I figured out three problems with my design, all focused on the right side seating area! The wall that I wanted to remove is load bearing, which means it's a main structural element of the house. Take out a load-bearing wall without checking and your house may collapse!
The main trunk for the HVAC system runs up through the same wall, if the wall is removed then all the heat ducts to the upstairs bedrooms have to be rerouted. Not an option on a budget. As luck would have it, there are about 4 electrical outlets and conduits running through that wall too! Can you believe it? So now what's a guy suppose to do? I have a perfect kitchen design that's out the window...until I made a few key changes that saved the day. Final Kitchen Design!
Image shown rotated right 90 degrees for clarity The final design for my kitchen turned out great, although I did encounter a few bumps in the road along the way. I'm really pleased with the final kitchen design. It's very functional as I can attest to now after using my kitchen for the past few months. You've probably noticed that I added a ton of detail to my final design after I got the layout I wanted. Each of the cabinets has a design note that indicates the size of the cabinet, how many drawers it has, and in some instances, what the function of the cabinet is (i.e. Trash).
Don't be tempted to skip the schematic design process for your kitchen design. Schematic design allows you to work out problems cheaply on the front end, as opposed to having huge problems and headaches during demolition.
How to simplify your material and color selections
Although we did struggle when it came to material and color selection for the kitchen we did develop a system to make the process easier. By following some of my tips below you should be able to trim some serious time of your material and color selection process. Here's a good picture that shows how we tried to focus on different combinations of hardwood, appliance color and counter top pattern.
Comparing countertop color and patterns with cabinets In the picture above I taped up 4 counter samples to see what they looked like against the birch cabinet doors. The next picture shows how I did the mock up to see how each material looked in direct comparison to the others.
Multiple material comparisons at once What we would do during this process is make a mock up and then leave it for awhile and look at it every time we walked by. We would then get together and "conference" about what we liked and what we didn't. Then we would start the whole process over again and replace the materials and colors we didn't like with new contenders. Here’s out initial choices for countertops and flooring materials. They look quite boring when I look at them now but they almost made it into the design.
Our BORING initial material selections After many sleepless nights - and more debates and conjecture than I will admit to - we made the decision to go with Sapele Hardwood flooring, Stainless Steel Appliances and Butter Rum Formica Granite counter tops with our birch cabinets from Ikea.
Our final design material selections
[Tip] Don’t get discouraged if it takes you some time to come up with the perfect material and color palate. Just follow my tips and have some fun with it. You don’t want to rush your design and make bad choices that will cost you thousands to fix later.
Don’t forget to review my book on Amazon Kindle, Thanks! - Bret
Kitchen cabinet selection
Here’s how I saved thousands of dollars on my kitchen cabinets by doing some research and paying attention to detail. I shopped all over town, I looked on the Internet, and I investigated custom cabinet shops. Can you tell where I bought these beautiful birch cabinets? Did I get them from a custom cabinet shop? How about a big box store? Maybe a small kitchen cabinet retail shop? None of the above, I got them from Ikea. The cabinet doors and end panels are all made from solid birch wood from the Adel line of Ikea cabinets.
Beautiful birch grain pattern of the Ikea Adel Birch cabinets I even got half of my upper cabinets with glass doors and still didn’t break the bank.
Upper cabinets with patterned glass fronts Cabinet Confusion - Too Many Choices I expected that finding the right cabinets would be a struggle. How is a regular guy suppose to know what makes a good cabinet? I mean, I’m not a wood worker! Trying to tell the difference in build quality, features, finishes and price leads to a lot of confusion and wasted money. Here is my personal experience shopping for kitchen cabinets at the bib box store and online. I don’t cover the Ikea shopping experience here, that complete story is in the other section of the book. Cruising the Big Box Stores (aka Home Depot) Don't get me wrong, I love Home Depot...I buy tons of stuff there, but I didn’t end up being really impressed with the cabinets, pricing or designers either. My wife and I went to the local Home Depot very early on in the planning stage of our remodel. We looked at the cabinets, counters and hardware for about an hour and a half - until the kids started to go into melt down mode and we had to leave. The cabinets aren't super high end, but aimed more at the "typical" consumer and each manufacturer offers enough customization options to suit about anyone. Home Depot does have a nice selection of cabinets, with names like Kraftmaid, MillsPride, Premiere, Thomasville and American Woodmark that would've looked great in our new kitchen, but I wasn't sure I wanted to pay the high prices for them and put up with the crappy service from the designers.
What I Didn't Like The thing that bothered me was the deceiving pricing structure for cabinets. Each kitchen display in the store gives you a price for a 10' x 10' kitchen that looks really affordable at fist glance. What they don't tell you is that the 10' x 10' kitchen display doesn't include any upgrades or options that you'll want and it doesn't include installation either. To get a better idea of what your cabinets from a big box store will actually cost, use this formula: (price per lineal foot x number of lineal feet in your design + 50% for options + 50% installation) Cabinet pricing example Let's say you want Kraftmaid cabinets from Home Depot. First find the door style, wood type, and finish option you want. Then have one of the designers give you a price per lineal foot of cabinets. Plug this number into the formula above. Next, add 50% of the price of your total cabinet cost for options like pullouts, dividers and glides etc. Last, add 50% to the total of your combined cost of cabinets + options for the installation. Your estimate might look something like this: $200 per lineal ft x 20 lineal feet = $4,000 + 50% options = $6,000 + 50% installation = $9,000 total. So what appeared to be $4,000 dollar cabinets actually end up costing you $9,000 of your kitchen budget. Home Depot Kitchen Designers There may be some good designers at Home Depot, but I’ve never met one. I found that they weren't all that helpful unless you were definitely going to order. Maybe I'm a bit jaded from working in the Architecture field for the past ten years, but from what I could tell, these "designers" don't have any kind of formal training. That fact alone should raise a red flag. Are you going to let someone design your kitchen that barely knows any more than you do? I wouldn't, especially on a project that I'm investing up to $20,000 on! I also heard plenty of other horror stories on forums like gardenweb.com that cemented
my decision early on to look elsewhere for kitchen cabinets. Shopping for kitchen cabinets online If you plan on shopping for your kitchen cabinets online, you really better have your ducks in a row. The surest way to end up completely confused and baffled about your project is to start shopping for cabinets at one of the online stores like buycabinets.com or budgetkitchencabinets.com before your design is set in stone. Are Online Kitchen Cabinet Prices the Lowest? You would guess that buying cabinets online would be cheaper than going to a custom shop or big box store, but it's not always the case. For starters, the cabinets you find online may not be the brand names you'll find at local dealers like Kraftmaid or Crystal so you'll have to order a sample cabinet to see them in person and find out if they're made well. The other thing to consider about buying cabinets online is the shipping charge. One advantage to buying locally from a larger retailer is they've already absorbed the shipping price from the manufacturer. On the other hand, ordering your cabinets online means that you won't have to pay for tax. The bottom line is - do the math, and don't automatically assume you're saving money buying online. What if there's a Problem with Your Online Order? Your stress level will be off the chart if your kitchen cabinet order arrives and there is a problem like missing pieces or damaged boxes. Who can you turn to? If you bought your cabinets from an online vendor, I hope you checked out their credentials before you handed them your money, or you may be in for a few headaches. Make sure you know the policies of the store before you have a problem that will ruin your schedule and end up costing you more money than you saved by ordering online. Why I bought Ikea kitchen cabinets in the Adel birch finish Cold hard cash, that's why! - and they happen to be great cabinets with tons of features and good reviews from those who know more about the subject than me. After wading my way through the big box stores, custom cabinet shops and online retailers, the only sane choice for me was getting cabinets from Ikea.
I'll be honest, the thought of putting in a bunch of extra work building them from scratch was not appealing, but after my delivery arrived, excitement set in and I never looked back. People always talk about bang for the buck. I think Ikea delivers on every level. For starters, the cabinets have real wood face frames and end panels, great hinges, good reviews from consumer reports and I like Swedish people (just kidding).
Ikea Adel Birch cabinets Aren’t they nice? Well I think so...the thing that really sold me is the standard features and accessories that Ikea includes, that would cost you thousands in upgrades with any other cabinet maker. Here is just a small sampling of what you get for the money when you buy Ikea cabinets for your kitchen: - European frameless design - heavy duty Blum hinges - full extension drawer glides, again Blum designed - easy do it yourself design - fully customizable interiors - pullout pantry - lazy Susan cabinets
- small price tag When you understand all that Ikea offers for the money, it's hard to see why you would buy any other cabinets. The only drawback to some may be the fact that you have to build the boxes yourself, but you'll get over that quickly when you discover that you're saving 6-12k on your cabinets alone.
Choosing cabinet hardware
Finding the right hardware for the cabinets was the least stressful decision we made for the kitchen. I actually found the process enjoyable. There's really no pressure since you can easily change the cabinet hardware for a minimum expense in a couple hours. Here are my favorite kitchen cabinet hardware websites that I shopped on: - MyKnobs.com - HomeClick.com - Rockler.com I didn’t end up buying any hardware from these sites but instead found my way back to Ikea and bought the hardware pictured in this next picture.
Contemporary curved cabinet hardware from Ikea We like the clean lines of this hardware. The design is a simple arc that's easy to get your hand into and pull open the cabinet doors. The other bonus is there aren’t any pointy edges to catch your clothes on if you bump into them. Matching cabinet hardware to your style When we started shopping for cabinet hardware, we did make one mistake. We didn't have a clear vision of the style of our finished kitchen.
Sure, we knew what the cabinets would look like because we had already bought them, but we didn't know what the flooring material would be, what color the appliances would be, and we didn’t even have a paint color picked out yet! To make your hardware selection easier, decide early on in the design process if your kitchen will be one of the following styles. - arts and crafts - contemporary - rustic - traditional - whimsical - modern After the style is established it becomes much easier to find the right cabinet hardware that will compliment the look you want to achieve. Here are a couple of cabinet hardware designs that we considered going with, before we decided on the clean contemporary look.
Cabinet knobs we considered buying
Looking back on these two kitchen cabinet hardware choices now, it's clear they don't compliment the style or look we were after for the kitchen. The brass style knob in the first picture is way too rustic (I still like it), and the pewter knob with all the adornment is too way fancy for the look we were after.
Why we chose laminate countertops
If you've already read my kitchen cabinet selection guide you know that I saved thousands of dollars on my kitchen cabinets - so why did I end up with laminate counters for my kitchen? Read on to find out... Can you tell these are laminate countertops if I hadn’t told you?
Butter Rum Formica laminate countertops How Much Does Silestone Cost? Every home I owned has had laminate counter tops, so I promised myself that I'd get some of those fancy granite or Silestone counters like everyone else is getting. My wife and I focused in on Silestone counters for the kitchen and went through the long and painful process of selecting the right color.
Kona Beige Silestone sample
Capri Limestone Silestone sample
Coffee Brown Silestone sample We brought home some of the Silestone samples and narrowed our choice down to 3 contenders as you can see in the pictures above. When the selection process was complete, I created a counter top drawing to get estimates from local suppliers. When the estimates came back it was apparent that if we were going to get Silestone, our flooring was going to have to be that lovely vinyl you see in the background of the Silestone pictures, and that my friend was not an option. Our estimate for Silestone came in around $4500! OUCH!!!! And Granite wasn't any cheaper! Depression Sets In After a week of depression over the fact that we weren't getting stone, we decided to make the best of it and go through the whole process of selecting counter top materials again. This time we were getting laminate counters come hell or high water. Now that the Granite and Silestone were out, it was left up to me to find a decent laminate color to match our birch cabinets and Sapele hardwood flooring.
Contenders in the laminate countertop sweepstakes
More laminate samples that didn’t make the final cut This isn’t your Grandma’s laminate I was pleasantly surprised to find out that laminate has undergone an "extreme makeover" in the past few years.
They have laminate that looks like stone, granite, cork, metal, glass, travertine, and wood or about any other material you can imagine. If you decide to use laminate you can get large samples from the manufacturers. Please note that it takes about a week to get them in the mail so plan ahead. Oh, one more thing - we got our counters custom installed on site, with no seams for $920, instead of the $4500 bill we were facing for stone. Prices for a laminate counter top installation are all over the map. Make sure you get at least 3-4 bids on your counters and insist on having them built on site in your kitchen. If you're considering laminate counters for your kitchen I'll help you along and give you links to the big three laminate manufacturers online. Big 3 Laminate Counter Top Manufacturers - Wilsonart - Formica - Nevamar All the laminate manufacturers will send you free samples you can use to help make the selection process easier. Be sure to ask for the biggest sample you can get in order to get the full effect of the pattern. Here’s one of the ways we tested the laminate samples to se if we liked them well enough to put them through to the finalist category.
Comparing laminate side-by-side against cabinets The next picture shows how we made our laminate selection by using different sample chips that were placed right next to the other materials we planned on using for the kitchen.
The finalists: Butter Rum & Galeio laminate from Formica
I had the cabinets installed by this time, so we used the large samples from Formica and laid them against a white appliance (we later switched to stainless steel but that's another story), put the wood flooring samples under that, and pushed the whole shooting match against the installed cabinets to see what the laminate would look like with all the material colors together. We chose the laminate on the left from Formica. It's called Butter Rum Granite and looks great installed with the birch cabinets and Sapele hardwood floors.
Don’t forget to review my book on Amazon Kindle, Thanks! - Bret
How to install laminate countertops in 7 simple steps and save $1500
Let's be honest here, laminate counters aren't really that sexy. At least that's what I thought until I learned how much money you can save compared to granite, quartz (Silestone) and solid surface countertops (laminate is about 1/4 the price). If you're anti-laminate like I used to be, stick with me here, and I can show you that you do have some viable options for a great looking counter top without breaking the bank. My counter tops were built on site in one day. There are no seams in the counters either! If your counters are measured and made "off site" in someone's shop there will be seams, so see if you can take a day off work and let them make the counter tops as you watch. [Tip] As I just mentioned a minute ago, laminate countertop pricing varies wildly. I got bids for my project that ranged from $950 - $2400 for the exact same job so make sure you shop around. The contractors that build the counters on-site in your home had the best prices. If you're laminate counter top bid comes in at half the price of Silestone or granite you're getting ripped off. The most you should pay for laminate is 1/4 to 1/3 the price of stone... not a penny more! OK, enough of my gabbing, on to the laminate countertop installation. Step 1 - cabinet preparation
The most important step in your countertop install is the prep work before the counters go in. You're cabinets need to be plumb and level for a clean installation. If you think you may make the switch to granite or quartz in the future, be sure to nail the underlayment down instead of using glue as it will be easier to make the change when that day comes. Step 2 - underlayment and blocking
The second step when laminate counters are installed is to install a ¾” strip of wood around the perimeter of the cabinets. The underlayment, in this case 3/4" particleboard is attached on top of the ¾” strips so you get an edge proﬁle of 1 ½” tall. Particleboard is used under the laminate because it acts as a stable base for the laminate to be glued to and it isn't bumpy and full of knots like plywood can be.
Here's another shot of the edge of the counter top. You can see the two colors on the edge (light and dark). The light bottom layer is the perimeter board (pine) and the darker top board is particleboard. Step 3 - gluing down the laminate countertop sheet
After the underlayment is completed, the next step is to apply glue to the underside of your laminate sheet and the ¾” MDF. Once your surfaces are glued it's time to install the laminate to the particleboard. Notice the wood strips put down so the glued up laminate won't stick right to the particleboard until it's in the perfect position and ready to be adhered. Step 4 - securing the laminate with a weighted roller Once the laminate countertop sheet is bonded to the MDF underlayment, it's time use a weighted roller to make sure the pieces are bonded across the entire sheet. Using the roller will help prevent buckles or bubbles from forming. Ideally, when the laminate is pressed down, you will have at least an eighth of an inch of overhang all the way around the top. Step 5 - trim the laminate with a router
To remove the excess laminate overhang use a router with a special laminate bit called a ﬂush cut or beveled blade.
The next step was to cut out the hole for the sink. When he installed the laminate sheet, he laid it right over the sink opening, then came back with a router and cut the nice clean hole you see above.
Step 6 - install the countertop edge banding Now that the countertops are done it's time to ﬁnish off the edges with the same material for a nice clean look. Here's how to do it. Apply two coats of cement to the edges and let it dry thoroughly. Then apply one coat of cement to the back of the laminated sheet. Place the edge strip into position carefully, using your ﬁngers to align the sheets along the top edge as they are applied. It is usually best to start applying pressure to the edge strips in the center of each strip. Work in both directions from the center on long spans. Work short spans from end to end. Step 7 - install the laminate backsplash
* Optional step depending on your backsplash type The last step is to make and install the laminate backsplash. The backsplash is just a 3/4" x 4" piece of particleboard with laminate glued to it just similar to the counter top construction in steps 3-6. The piece is then adhered to the wall with construction adhesive, and sealed at the bottom edge (where the piece meets the countertop) with a bead of clear silicone to prevent water from getting behind or under it.
My "almost" mistake selecting appliances
Have you ever started out with good intentions, and then had those good intentions blowup in your face Well I have, and it all started with a kitchen appliance I dragged along from my old house (a Whirlpool Gold 25 cubic foot side-by-side fridge to be exact).
The fridge that almost screwed up my design Initially, we made all our kitchen material selections based on a kitchen appliance that I was reluctant to give up. Boy was that a mistake! We really wanted to get stainless steel appliances, but figured that since we brought the fridge from the old house, we had to use it no matter what. What a mistake that would've been. That white fridge almost derailed my kitchen remodel! How my "appliance revolution" saved my remodel It all started one night when we had some friends over and showed them what color schemes and material selections we were going to use. Luckily for us, our friends are not the type to keep their opinions to themselves. We showed them our selections in groups - from the bland homogenous choices of
beige, beige and white and some more interesting choices that incorporated some richer tones that wouldn't go with our white refrigerator. The rich, interesting color tones were a hit with our friends, but it took us awhile to come around to the idea. If we went with the richer, deeper tones, then we would have to scrap the white kitchen appliances that we had already ordered or in some cases had already taken up residence and return them. In the picture below, you can see we already had our new Maytag range delivered and installed in the new kitchen when we changed our mind.
White Appliances from Maytag store before the switch The bottom line that you can take away from my experience is, don't let existing, or old appliances dictate your material selections, and ultimately your kitchen remodel. If you do, you'll be kicking yourself in a few months down the line for being such a cheapskate! Here's the difference the right appliances can make.
The stainless steel appliances post switch The right kitchen appliances can make a huge difference in the outcome of your remodeling project. Don't sell yourself short by settling for something you dragged along from your old house. We ordered a new refrigerator, range, microwave, dishwasher and garbage disposal we ordered them all at once and saved $758! [Tip] Order you appliances all at once and order them early to make sure they're ready when you need them at the end of your remodel. Any good appliance store will take your order and hold the appliances until you're ready for them.
Hardwood flooring selection adventure
Thinking that most of the tough choices were behind us, we turned our attention to the hardwood flooring selection process. When we moved into our house in October of 2004, we had some Kahrs engineered hardwood installed in my daughter’s room, so we decided to put more Kahrs in the kitchen. We were completely enamored with the Stockholm Cherry from Kahrs, it's really beautiful. Here's a picture of it, it’s the reddish sample on top of the other one which is oak.
Kahrs Cherry flooring sample with Oak underneath it Isn't the cherry nice? We were sold on it 100%, but there would be a down side to having cherry hardwood flooring in the kitchen and garage entry. Cherry is a very soft hardwood. It's way softer that oak and maple.
Any place in your home where gravel and dirt will be tracked in, and two small children that will be dropping book bags and lord knows what else on it, getting soft hardwood cherry just doesn't make sense from a durability stand point. Installing a soft hardwood in a high traffic area is a BAD idea! Do you see the wood underneath the cherry in the picture above? That was our original selection. It's Kahrs too, Oak Granada to be exact. We decided against the oak because although it was a safe choice, it's too dam boring! It just screams, "We wanted to make the safe choice!" The first hardwood flooring selection We decided on Kahrs Oak Grenada, but quickly decided that it wasn't going to cut it. Cherry hardwood stole our hearts but… Like I talked about above our first love was Kahrs Cherry hardwood, but that was asking for trouble. Maple or birch hardwood anyone? We decided to look at different manufacturers to see what they offered; maybe a homogenous (a la birch on birch) color scheme would be good, right? Wrong. Oh how I wish I could get back the time that I wasted looking at maple and birch flooring! It looked terrible with our birch cabinets; it was so bad that I only took one picture of it. That should tell you all you need to know about that!
Yellow Birch vs exotic hardwood samples Look at the picture above. Notice how the medium brown exotic hardwood samples on the top show the depth and beauty of the grain patterns? We did, and you can see how we ended up with our Sapele hardwood floor in the next section below. Exotic Hardwood Flooring After we became bored to death with maple, the exotic hardwood choices sang their siren song, and we were listening! Kahrs Oak Grenada We put Kahrs Oak Grenada in my daughter’s bedroom when we moved into our house and liked it a lot. So it seemed natural that we would start our kitchen flooring selection process there. It became quite clear early on that having birch cabinets and light oak flooring was going to bore us to death, even if it was the safe choice!
Kahrs Oak Grenada engineered hardwood flooring Even though the oak was the safe hardwood choice, and we easily could've gone down the safe road, we stepped out of our comfort zone and looked into other wood species and went back to the store for more samples. We put 2-3 different hardwood samples on the floor at one time, and let them sit for a few days while we "lived" with them. We decided the oak hardwood flooring is too rustic with the wide grain pattern and the knots. It also doesn't fit well with the birch cabinets, which are on the contemporary side. When I look back at this color scheme, I get bored just looking at it! I can't imagine what I'd been feeling now if we had to live with it everyday for the next 20 years! Kahrs Cherry Stockholm Cherry hardwood is a thing of beauty with a nice grain pattern; nice varies color tones and deep luster. It's easy to understand how we fell in love with this soft hardwood. It has a nice soft grain pattern and some color variation. It's not as common as oak flooring or maple flooring.
Kahrs Stockholm Cherry engineered hardwood flooring You can see the Kahrs Oak Granada underneath the Kahrs Cherry. See the difference a bit of contrasting color adds to the overall effect? So cherry flooring it is! But wait a minute...how soft is cherry flooring? Oh, maybe it's not the right choice after all. Soft hardwood flooring in a high traffic are is a recipe for disaster, or dents, depending on how you want to look at it. There was no way we were going to invest $4500 into floors only to have them destroyed in a year or two. It was now time to investigate some different hardwood species, and manufacturers as well. Exotic hardwood flooring - now things are getting interesting Cherry hardwood is a thing of beauty with a nice grain pattern, nicely varied color tones and a deep, rich luster. It's not hard to understand how we fell in love with this soft hardwood. Once you see it in person you might feel the same way.
Exotic hardwood flooring samples There is an unbelievable amount of hardwood flooring to choose from, and the choices will make your head spin so be prepared to make some tough decisions and choices. Since we couldn't go with the cherry hardwood due to its' softness, we decided to find a hardwood floor that was somewhere in the reddish brown to brownish red family. Some of the wood choices we considered were: - Mahogany - Brazilian cherry - Teak - Zebra wood - Sapele - Merbau Here's a good picture of some of the finalists all lined up by the cabinets. The wood on the right side of the picture is the Mirage Sapele that we chose for the kitchen. The wood second from the right is mahogany (very nice but too red), and the two samples on the left of the picture are two different types of stained maple that we considered also. I like maple a lot, but my wife said the stain looked kind of fake so that was that for the maple.
Exotic hardwood flooring finalists It was a long and bumpy road finding the perfect hardwood flooring for the kitchen, but it was all worth it in the end. If you're considering hardwood flooring for your kitchen, take some time and go to a couple of stores to get LARGE samples you can bring home and live with for a few days so you can see what they look like at night, when it's cloudy, when it's sunny, in the morning, in the evening - I think you get the idea. The point is, hardwood will look much different at night with the lights on than it will in the morning with the sun shining in on it - get some samples for yourself and see what I mean.
Hardwood flooring installation
It sure wasn't easy getting to this point! If you missed the action that lead up to the installation, you can find it at my hardwood flooring adventure. We had B & R Hardwood and Tile in Minneapolis do the installation of our hardwood floors for us. We found them on Angieslist.com, and they did an excellent job. Since I did the bulk of the remodeling job myself, I figured I was off the hook on this project. And to be honest I didn't want to mess with installing the floors after doing all the other work! The installation pictures
Straight guide board on the right When the installation began, the installers setup a guide board to keep the flooring square to the walls. Without a guide board, it's possible that your flooring will end up crooked.
Hardwood Running Underneath the Peninsula Cabinets I got a call from the hardwood installers at work and they asked if they could run the hardwood under the peninsula. I was a little skeptical about this idea at first because they would have to raise the legs on my Ikea Cabinets, run the floor underneath and glue it to the subfloor. Running the flooring under the peninsula did help them finish the job quicker and helped the installers keep the floor from getting crooked when they got around the other side of the cabinets. You can see the hardwood sticking out the other side of the peninsula in the next picture.
Hardwood nailed down over existing vinyl flooring My kids were a little confused why the hardwood floors weren't finished and the installers had gone home. "Daddy why didn't they finish the floors? And what's the fridge doing in the middle of our kitchen?" Gotta love 3 and 6 year olds!
Why isn’t the flooring finished yet Dad? Day two of the hardwood flooring installation went smoothly and the crew from B & R Hardwood finished up the job ahead of schedule....when does that ever happen? The installation of our Sapele Hardwood was sailing right along. Even with the floor only partially complete, it still looked 1000% better than that dirty old worn out vinyl. At the end of day two I received a call from the crew that they had finished! That was a surprise. I rushed home to take some pictures of the new Sapele floor. After weeks of debate and sleepless nights spent tossing and turning in bed, wondering if we mad the right decision, the floor was finally done - and boy does it look fantastic! When I walked into the house and saw the floor I was completely blown away. It's a shocking difference between hardwood and vinyl! Here are the results...
Finished hardwood running under the peninsula In the picture above you can see how they ran the hardwood under the cabinet legs at the peninsula.
Hardwood in the kitchen In the rest of the kitchen I had the installers ran the floor to within about a 1/4" of the legs to allow for expansion like you see above. If you run the hardwood tight to the cabinet legs you'll end up with bowing and popped up boards when it expands and contracts so don't do it. You can get a better look at what I'm talking about in the next picture below, see the dirty old "white" vinyl under the cabinets?
Hardwood installed underneath the dishwasher Even though the hardwood doesn't run under the cabinets, I did have the installers put it underneath the dishwasher, the range and the refrigerator. It makes for a cleaner more professional look and saved the trouble of having to build up the floor to get the appliances at the right height.
Matching Sapele hardwood vent Speaking of a finished professional look, the icing on the cake is adding matching wood vents. Why spend all that money on a beautiful hardwood floor and wreck the look with those cheesy white metal vents? Here's what the finished Sapele hardwood flooring looks like in the kitchen and dining room. The hardwood is a beautiful, if not obscure hardwood from Africa. It's called Sapele. I had never heard of it before we started looking for flooring. It's harder than maple and oak and has a really tight grain pattern. Sapele also has a nice color variation, it's not a quilty hardwood floor like some maple or Brazilian Cherry, it's subtle with nice hints of cream, red, brown and even a bit of green.
Looking from the kitchen into dining How did those shoes get in the picture? Oh well, the next picture is a view from the dining room looking into the kitchen at the peninsula.
Looking from dining into the kitchen Those shoes are still there? Good Grief! Here's a shot of the entry from the garage that sits between the kitchen and dining room.
Hardwood at the garage entry And last but not least, the final picture is of the completed hardwood flooring installation in the dining room. We tweaked our budget and saved money on cabinets and counter tops so we could get the hardwood in the dining room.
Hardwood in the dining room If you're considering installing hardwood flooring in your kitchen and dining room I can't recommend it highly enough. Hardwood is warm to the feet and very durable if you get the right species like we did. Want to know how to save over $1000+ on your hardwood flooring installation and pay for this book 100’s of times over? Keep reading, that’s coming up next.
Please CLICK HERE to review my book on Amazon Kindle, Thanks! - Bret
How to save $1,000 plus on your hardwood flooring installation
I've already covered the reasons why I didn't want to do the hardwood flooring installation myself. But that doesn’t mean I didn't want to save a big pile of money on it! Here are some insider tips that will save you at least $1000 dollars and probably closer to $2000 dollars when you hire someone to install your hardwood flooring. If you've spent any amount of time investigating hardwood flooring prices or interviewed any contractors to handle your job, you probably know that having a professional come in and do the job can get really expensive very quickly. Here's exactly how to save piles of money on hardwood See if you can guess what kind of business is pictured in the photo below...
Arriving at the secret location Do you give up? The store in the picture above is a "contractors only" flooring club wholesaler! It's where individual contractors go to buy the wood they install in your house. They go in to a store like this and buy the wood wholesale, then they turn around and mark it up and resell it to you for a big handsome profit (thousands).
How to save $1000: Step 1 One of the best innovations on the Internet home remodeling and repair has been advent of website called Angielist.com. Angie's List is a members only website where consumers give unbiased ratings about every single type of service provider and contractor in their town. Your first step to BIG SAVINGS is to visit the Angie's List website for your city and join (it costs like $4.99 a month). The next step is to search through the letter grade ratings for flooring contractors. Call two or three of the best one's you can find and get an in home estimate for your hardwood flooring material and installation. If your city does not have an Angieslist website you'll have to do it the old fashion way by either calling a few contractors from the yellow pages or getting a referral from a friend or neighbor. How to save $1000: Step 2 When you interview the flooring contractors that come to your house ask each of them if they work through a flooring wholesale club. When they answer yes, tell them that you want them to buy the hardwood at cost through the club, and you will pay them to install it. Your contractor can get you access to the wholesale club by calling them up and letting the representative know that you are a client of theirs. That's exactly how we did our hardwood flooring and WOW did we get a great deal! When visiting the flooring club they will only give you list prices on the flooring materials you see. Figure that the contractors actual cost is about 50-60% of the list price. Inside the flooring club, you’ve never seen anything like this When I entered the flooring club I was completely blown a way by what I saw! They had every single hardwood manufacturer on the planet! It was literally row upon row of everything from 3/8" engineered to 3/4" solid - and everything in between.
Lauzon hardwood display at the flooring club The picture above represents only a tiny fraction of the hardwood they had to choose from. The selection went on, and on, and on. It was crazy.
Miles of hardwood at the flooring club If you can't find what you're looking for in one of the contractors wholesale flooring club
stores AND save a minimum of $1000-$2000 on your hardwood flooring project you're not trying very hard!
The kitchen sink dilemma
There is an old saying, "Everything but the kitchen sink." That summed up our remodel, because we debated about what kind of sink to get for weeks. Putting in a stainless steel sink seemed like a no brainer until I discovered some of the cool new sink materials and designs I didn't even know existed like: - silgranite - moenstone - corian - copper - platinum - fireclay If the material selection wasn't enough to chew on, kitchen sinks come in colors now! Who knew? You can get on in black, bone, white, blue, red....well you get the idea. The downside to the new kitchen sink choices is that all the new style and fancy finishes do come with a higher price tag. A BIG price tag in some cases. I'll cut to the chase and show you the sink we selected when it came down to crunch time. Here's a picture.
My $59 Ikea stainless steel sink
Why do sinks cost more than dishwashers? You read right, I spent all of $59 on my kitchen sink. I almost got sucked into buying one of those heavy gauge stainless steel sinks from Elkay, almost. It all began when I was reading the forums over at the gardenweb.com kitchen forums. Everyone was talking about their $600 sinks (and $600 dollar sinks aren't as uncommon as you would think these days) and I started to get brainwashed into thinking I needed one too. I looked at the premium stainless steel sinks from Elkay, Kohler, Blanco, Franke and everyone else under the sun. Then I got the grand idea that stainless steel just wasn't going to cut it for me. Not when I could get a Silgranite sink or a cool hand hammered copper sink! Before you knew it I was blowing my kitchen sink budget out of the water by about $800 bucks. You see, once you get a $600 sink, you certainly can't slap some crappy $150 faucet on it. No, you've got to get one of those fancy $500 pullout faucets, and a $200 soap dispenser to go along with it. And don't forget a hot water dispenser and a $400 garbage disposal and…you get the point. After my head stopped spinning, and I got my feet planted back on the ground, I decided to find out what a decent sink actually costs in the real world where I live. After doing a little bit of digging and looking around online, I managed to find a good stainless steel kitchen sink for a whopping $59 at Ikea so I went out and bought it. I then banked the rest of the money I saved and put it towards hardwood flooring for the kitchen and dining room and I couldn't be happier.
My single bowl sink, faucet and soap dispenser
The sink even came with a silencer pad!
Faucets cost how much? Forget that!
I have a confession to make. I totally blew it when I bought my first kitchen faucet. I got cocky when I saved all that money on my kitchen sink and figured I could cheap out on the faucet too. I was wrong. Since I got my sink for only $59 I was determined to get some serious savings on my faucet as well. The only problem was I couldn't figure out what a good faucet was supposed to cost. Certainly you could get a nice faucet cheaper than the $300-400 dollar faucets I'd seen everywhere online and in the forums, right? The $79 faucet from hell I had found my budget faucet to go with my $59 sink. It was a single lever, pullout faucet from Ikea. I can't really rip Ikea too bad, if you've already read any of my kitchen remodeling diary, you know I bought my cabinets, hardware and sink from Ikea, and they're all great. The problem with buying a cheap faucet, is, well...WATER! There's not really anything that can go wrong with a sink. You drop it into a hole in the counter and away you go. A faucet is a whole different ball game. It all started with a small puddle in the cabinet I was feeling pretty proud of myself when the sink and faucet where installed and working. I'll tell ya, you don't realize how much you depend on running water until you don't have any for a couple weeks. When I finished installing the kitchen faucet luckily I had the foresight to leave a bath towel under the sink, just in case there was a plumbing error on my part. When I checked the faucet for leaks the next morning, much to my horror I found the towel was soaking wet! So under the sink I went to investigate the source of the leak. I checked all the valves and supply hoses and finally pinpointed the faucet leak at the pullout spray head connection. Thinking I must have made an error installing it, I pulled out the faucet, checked all the connections, redid the Teflon tape and reinstalled it. Can you guess what happened next? Yep, it leaked again! So out came the faucet for the second time. I went through my checklist again, and with finders crossed, reinstalled it for a third time... problem solved. Or was it?
Drip, drip goes the new faucet One problem solved as another begins. Just when I thought I had the world by the tail, it turned out it was me who was caught by the tail. The faucet didn't drip all the time - it was selective, like it had a brain. I would turn it on and use it, turn it off and nothing. And then the very next time I used it the faucet would drip after the water was shut off! I was at the end of my rope with this piece of junk. I decided that - although I didn't want to - I was going to have to climb back under the sink and remove this "problem" faucet and get a new one. Time for good kitchen faucet, not a cheap one It never occurred to me that there could be such a difference in kitchen faucet valves. Here's the bottom line, buy a faucet with a ceramic valve! If you don't buy a kitchen faucet with a ceramic valve you'll be on your back and underneath your kitchen sink sooner than later ripping out the cheap faucet you bought and reinvesting in a good one. Here's the faucet we have now, it's a Kohler Colaris single hole mount that has a nice clean look and actually works like it's suppose to. You turn it on and water comes out you turn it off and it doesn't drip! Novel concept huh?
Kohler Colaris kitchen faucet installed
Here is another picture of the faucet from the side. The front half of the faucet assembly pulls out (I endorse pullout faucets heartily I might add).
Side view of the Kohler Colaris faucet The moral of the story There is a moral to every story right? The moral of this story is. Don’t ever buy a faucet for under $150 that doesn’t have a ceramic valve! Got it? Good!
Please CLICK HERE to review my book on Amazon Kindle, Thanks! - Bret
Preparing for your Ikea kitchen remodel
As the old saying goes, "Failing to plan, is like planning to fail". That statement couldn't be more true than when you're undertaking a kitchen remodeling project. I'm sure you're ready to just slap a design together and get started today, but trust me on this one. If you don't plan your project with attention to detail from the beginning, you're destined to fail. There's no way around it. It's very important that you start off your project on the right foot, so take extra time to get your initial kitchen design right! The launch point for your planning should center around the overall kitchen design, and that starts with the Ikea Kitchen Planner Software. If you haven't done so already, go to Ikea and download the Ikea Kitchen Planner Software. When you get the Ikea Kitchen Planner, install it on your computer and play around with it for a couple of days and do some rough schematic designs. Now that you're comfortable with the software, it's time to get some accurate measurements of your existing kitchen. If you're not comfortable with measuring the kitchen yourself, you can hire a service to come out and do it for you, or enlist the help of a friend or family member that's handy. When you get your measurements done, it's time to do your first design on the planner software. Start off by creating a new project in the Ikea Kitchen Planner Software and input your kitchen dimensions and finalize your room layout. When you have the room layout right, the next step is to use the software and place your cabinets into the room you created. When you're putting the cabinets in using the software, be sure that you specify the finish, door style, plinth and each of the cabinet parts exactly how you want them so your estimate and parts list is correct when you're done and ready to print it.
When you finish your initial design, take a couple of days off and then revisit your design to see if it will work in your space and is a plan you can live with. If your design isn't quite right, save the initial design and try it again. You may also want to try a layout that's completely different from your first effort just for the fun of it. I did that when I designed my kitchen. I ended up doing 3-4 designs and picked the best one of the group for my final plan. Now that you have your basic Ikea Kitchen Plan together, you need to invest some time doing research on your flooring, counter tops, back splash tile, appliances, lighting and cabinet hardware. Project Preparation Breakdown - Establish a budget. This is the most important step in the entire process. If you have no idea how much your kitchen remodel will cost, do some digging online to get estimates for flooring, sinks, faucets and hardware. If you're doing extensive demolition get estimates from local contractors or use Angies List like I did. - Go to the Ikea website and download a copy of the free kitchen planning software. - While you're there order the kitchen catalog from the Ikea website. The catalog has all the door styles, hardware and accessories that you can browse through. It also has pricing information in it so you can get an idea of what your cabinets will cost. - Get a design together on the software and save it for review. Now, take a day off and think about your design. - Review your design and make changes. Or make a new one if your first attempt didn't work out. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again - like I did. - Print out the kitchen parts list from the Ikea kitchen planning software and review it against your plan to make sure they match - I had one mistake on mine so make sure to double check it. - Get your numbers together for your remodel and make sure you are on budget! OK, so now you have a jumping off point for your remodel. Preparing for a new kitchen is kind of like getting your affairs in order for the birth of a child. You probably think I'm kidding, right? I couldn't be more serious. A full kitchen remodeling project will take the better part of 3-4 months easy. Don't believe me? Ask someone who's been through it and they'll agree with me.
The time frame I'm talking about covers preparation, demolition, construction, wiring, plumbing, flooring, painting and tile work. Not all of the construction can happen simultaneously. So be prepared to have your life turned upside down for awhile. The sooner you get used to this idea, the better. Plan ahead for not having any running water in the kitchen. If you'll be eating at home during the remodeling project, stock up on paper plates, plastic cups and silverware so you won't be faced with the ugly task of doing dishes in your sink or bathtub!
Getting your kitchen design layout right
Really nailing your design will seem like an insurmountable task when you start, but take hope. Even designers and architects don't get the design right on the first try. Part of the fun of your remodel is doing, and redoing the design until it's perfect. Then tweak it some more until...
My Final Kitchen Design Plan That Got Built One of the best tips I can give you about planning your kitchen design is to work with what you've got and not reinvent the wheel. Anytime you start to move plumbing and knock out walls, your budget will go through the roof. My final kitchen design above is similar to the original kitchen layout when I moved in. We made a small change to the design by adding a peninsula and it has paid big dividends in useful seating and preparation space that was just an under used eat in void at the bottom of the space. Here is where you can see my entire kitchen design from start to finish including schematic AutoCAD drawings so you can more easily understand the process I went through.
Where to get kitchen design ideas online There are a few of great places to "steal" design ideas online. - Google Images: Enter the search terms, "kitchen design" "kitchen pictures" "kitchen cabinets" or "kitchen designer". - Yahoo Images: Again use the same search terms listed above or any other combinations of "kitchen" design" "pictures" etc. You won't believe what you'll dig up. - Forums: I am not a huge fan of forums for design, but there are a few large Ikea specific forums where people share their designs and builds. Some are quite nice and professional and most people will gladly give you feedback on your design if you submit it. If you're completely at a loss as to how to design your kitchen layout, it may be time to talk to a professional. Take your sketched down to a local big box store and show them to a designer for input, or have a home designer or architect review them for a fee. If you end up with a crappy design in the beginning, you'll be paying for it for years to come - and it may even make your home hard to sell in the future! After you get your kitchen design in order, it's time to open up the old pocket book and order your kitchen cabinets.
Placing your kitchen cabinet order with Ikea
You've planned your kitchen remodeling project, and finalized your kitchen design. Now comes the fun part! Advice on ordering your kitchen cabinets from Ikea The best advice I can give you when you do place your cabinet order with Ikea is to do it in person! There is no way I would even consider placing an order via fax or through an email. You need to sit down with someone in the kitchen department and go over your order line by line and part by part. You'll want to block out a couple hours minimum to go through the ordering process. Don't take any shortcuts on ordering or it will lead to headaches, frustration and wasted money. During the ordering process with the kitchen consultant don't be shy to ask questions and double check every single thing that they type into the computer. This is your one chance to get it right. So ask questions and get answers now unless you want to delay your project later when you realize you made a mistake and didn't get all the pieces you need. Remember, once you've placed your order and it's been shipped from their warehouse, it's too late to change your mind. If you forgot to order cover panels for example, you'll have to go back to the store and go through the process again. Smaller parts "can" get overlooked pretty easily, but the biggest thing you need to get right is ordering the cabinet boxes. Just imagine how frustrating it will be when you're in the middle of the first day of your installation and you discover that you don't have that 30" base cabinet! The bottom line is this - get your information "perfect" before you even think of stepping foot in the store, and when you get there plan on spending at least 2 hours with a kitchen planner to go over your order to make sure you get it right the first time! Ikea now stocks some of the most popular kitchen cabinets in the store. If they don't have your cabinets in stock when you place your order plan on a delivery time of about 2-4 weeks. Ask your kitchen consultant or call the store in advance to ask what their current leadtime is for delivery as it can vary depending on the time of year and other factors.
Step-by-step ordering process at the Ikea store - Print your kitchen plan from the Ikea Kitchen Planner Software for an itemized list of cabinet boxes and parts for your kitchen. - Double check your design, then triple check it until you know your design and cabinet sizes inside and out. - Go to the nearest Ikea store in person. DO NOT order your kitchen over the phone or via fax! - Ikea is the least busy early in the week. DO NOT go in the evening! Try to arrive mid morning so you can sit one on one with someone in the kitchen department. - Plan on spending 2 hours going over your order with your Ikea kitchen consultant. - Double check your order that the consultant puts in the computer so that it matches your print out from home exactly. If there are differences, ask for a clarification! - When your order is right, have your kitchen consultant group the cabinet parts together on your order to save you time when your order arrives at your house. That way you won't have to figure out what parts go to what cabinets. - Don't forget to have the kitchen consultant recheck your cover panel quantity. The kitchen planning software doesn't do a good job at telling you where you need panels. - Take your cabinet order down to the cashier and check out. Now take a break, the real work is about to begin Take a week or two off and don't even think about your new kitchen. Go for a walk, see a movie, take your kids to the park. Do anything... anything but sitting around obsessing about your kitchen. Got it? GOOD!
Taking delivery of your Ikea cabinet order
I promised that Ikea Kitchen Secrets would have a ton of pictures, and here they come. By this time you're probably going stir crazy waiting for your kitchen cabinet order from Ikea to arrive at the store, and eventually find its' way to your home so you can start building them. When the call comes in, and your cabinets are ready, make sure that you're properly prepared at your house. After all you've got to figure out a spot to fit all those cabinets don't you? Here is what my Ikea kitchen cabinet order looked like when it arrived from their delivery service (I highly recommend getting the cabinet order delivered by Ikea, it was worth every penny)...
My cabinet delivery on pallets in the garage Here's another picture of the cabinets on the pallets just to give you an idea of how much room they take up when they're delivered...
Ikea Kitchen Cabinet Delivery Shrink Wrap and Tie Downs You already know, I'm sure, that the cabinets come flat packed. If you didn't, boy are you going to be surprised when the pallets show up! Here's how the components of your kitchen cabinets are broken down when they arrive (by box) - cabinet box frame - door panels - interior hardware - hinges - drawer fronts - hanging rail - cabinet base trim with ledger board and trim heat tape - cabinet hardware (sold separately) OK, OK...enough about the delivery, I think you get the idea. Next we'll move on to staging your cabinets for construction which also includes tips on organizing your boxes so the actual construction of the boxes will run smoothly. One more picture of the cabinet delivery for good measure, just in case you missed the last two : ^)
Ikea Cabinet Delivery "Bonus Shot"
Staging you cabinets for construction
So your order showed up and all the pieces are intact, it's now time to get everything staged and organized so your project runs smoothly. Here's how I organized and staged my cabinets After the cabinets arrived from Ikea on the pallets, I made sure I was organized from the get go. The surest way to screw-up your project is to unload the pallets willy-nilly and scatter boxes around the house, only to discover later that you can't find half the pieces to your cabinets when it comes time to build them.
Cabinets staged, separated and grouped Get your cabinet parts and components separated The first order of business when you unpack the pallets is to get all the corresponding pieces grouped together by type. What I did was to group all the cabinet boxes in one pile (bottom of picture above), all the cabinet doors in another (middle of picture), hanging rail and base trim together (left side in back), cabinet drawers and fittings (lower left), and cover panels (on the right, out of picture).
Making your list and checking it twice (just like Santa) As I mentioned in the last section on ordering your cabinets, get a printout of your cabinet order when you're at Ikea, and have the kitchen consultant use a pen and group the cabinet parts together like this...
Cabinet order sheet printout from Ikea, use to cross reference order So my picture isn't that great, but if you look on the left hand side of my cabinet order, you can see the text and lines that separate each cabinet and all of its' components. With this list in hand, and your cabinets neatly staged and organized, double checking your order to make sure you have everything you need to get started. When you follow my advice about investing some time organizing at the beginning of the project, building the boxes is about 100 times easier - and so is everything else! Maybe I'm anal, huh? Oh well...SO BE IT! When you're doing a major project like a kitchen remodel, it pays to be a little uptight and picky.
Cover panels and pullout pantry parts Here's a picture of the pullout pantry and cover panels that didn't fit into the first shot above. And, here's where I put all of the ledger boards, trim, toe kicks and the suspension rail too...
Ikea ledger boards, trim, toe kicks and suspension rail I'm going to repeat myself again, GET ORGANIZED before you even think about tearing into those boxes and building even one cabinet. You can thank me later when you're not banging your head against the wall because you can't find any of your parts!
Cabinet staging, building and work area in the garage
During the demolition and construction phases we used our garage to stage the cabinets after they were built. Once the demolition began, we simply pulled out the old cabinets and put them in the garage and brought in the new cabinets. If at all possible, use your garage space to build and store cabinets, don't just leave your old cabinets strewn all over the house - or worse yet left in the kitchen while you're trying to work!
Building your Ikea kitchen boxes
When I opened the box and got ready to build my first Ikea cabinet box, I was a bit surprised that there was no verbiage in the instructions. Ikea has made the decision that a picture diagram of the cabinet construction process will suffice. Although I found that to be true most of the time, there is no substitute for well written instructions and a good schematic diagram. With that said, here is my attempt to help ease the pain of understanding Swedish line drawings and arrows.
Ikea cabinet flat pack parts The Ikea cabinets come flat packed as pictured above. Each cabinet box has a minimum of a top and bottom, and 2 sides with pre-drilled holes. Some of the larger cabinets like the lazy Susan, corner cabinet and pantry have more parts to put together but the concepts are the same.
There's also a small bag of screws, nails, pegs and miscellaneous parts that you'll need for the assembly - that's included with the cabinet in the packaging. Before you start building the cabinets, make sure to have the following tools on hand... - screwdriver with torques tip - hammer with soft rubber end (or rubber mallet) - small regular metal hammer - large carpenters square - #3 Phillips head screwdriver - wood glue (optional) - large uncluttered work area to spread out
Cabinet assembly parts bag Inside the magic bag of parts that comes with your cabinet, you'll find everything you'll need for assembly. Make sure to keep the parts organized, because you'll need some of them later when you're hanging the cabinets on the rail.
Ikea cabinet box assembly step #1 Lay the two sides down and with the back edge facing each other (the back edge is the one with the notch cut into it along the edge)
Ikea cabinet box assembly step #2 (bracket one) The second step in assembling the cabinet is to secure the angle clip in hole number 1 and 2 on the back side of the cabinet side panel.
The back side of the cabinet is routed out with a grooves as you can see in the picture above. Later on you'll be attaching the back cover panel into this groove to give the cabinet some rigidity and to keep it square.
Ikea cabinet box assembly step #3 (bracket two) Now attach another metal bracket as seen above to the other panel so it looks like the picture above.
Ikea cabinet box assembly step #3 Now locate the (8) screws that look like the ones in the picture above and screw (4) of them into each panel as seen in the picture below.
Ikea cabinet box assembly step #4 (screws)
Now grab the (8) wooden dowels and install (2) dowels on the end of each panel as seen in the picture below.
Ikea cabinet box assembly #5 (dowels) Get the (8) metal cam locks and install (4) of them in the holes on the face of each cabinet panel. Make sure that when the cam locks go into the holes that the open slot in the cam faces the hole on the side of the cabinet. Doing so allows the screws you installed in step #4 to clear the cams and slide together easily.
Ikea cabinet box assembly #6 (cam locks) When all the hardware in installed in each panel, it should look like this...
All hardware installed in each panel Now it’s time for the actual box assembly. Attach one side panel and the top panel making sure that the grooved sides of the panels match up like this...
Ikea cabinet box assembly #7 (top & side panel) Now pay close attention to the picture below - notice you can see the notches on each panel - these all need to be on the same side of the cabinet (the rear) or you won't be able to install the back panel on the cabinet. See the next picture for a close-up to see what I’m talking about.
Close-up of the panel grooves Take the other side panel and attach it to the other side of the box assembly you’re building.
Ikea cabinet box assembly #8 (attach other side panel) Grab your #3 Phillips screw driver and secure the (4) cam locks on the three pieces you’ve assembled so far.
kea cabinet box assembly #9 (secure 4 cam locks) Now that the cam locks are secure, get the remaining top panel and attach it to the cabinet assembly. You may have to tap it down with a rubber mallet to get a snug fit. Once it’s on, secure the remaining (4) cam locks just like you did in step #9 above.
Ikea cabinet box assembly #10 (install top panel of box)
Your cabinet box should look like this...
Box frame assembly completed Now it's time to make sure the frame assembly is square using a large carpenters square. if the cabinet isn’t square before you nail the back on you’re in for big trouble on the installation.
Ikea cabinet box assembly #11 (square the cabinet) Now lay the back cover panel into the grooves and make sure that the holes in the cover panel line up with the holes in the cabinet brackets at the top of the cabinet like this...
Ikea cabinet box assembly #12 (put on back cover, align with bracket holes)
Grab the nails that came with the hardware and secure the back panel by driving a nail about every 3-4 inches. DO NOT nail right by the bracket hole or you will hit the screws, check the picture below to see how I did it.
Nail spacing on back panel, avoid nailing at the bracket location Your cabinet box in now complete. Now just repeat this same process about 15-18 more times and you’ll be done. [Note] This may be a good time to call a friend for help and offer them free beer when you’re done assembling all the cabinets, just a thought.
Preparing for kitchen demolition
Time to rip out the old kitchen cabinets and make way for the shiny new Ikea cabinets. Before you fire up the chain saw and sledgehammer, it's wise to take a step back and get a look at the big picture. Kitchen demolition looks fun and sexy on those shows from HGTV, but in the real world you should use some discretion. Since I wanted to reuse some of the old cabinets in the garage for storage, I made a point to be careful unscrewing each cabinet from the wall one at a time. [Tip] Make sure your cabinets are 100% empty before you even consider trying to remove them! Taking the first steps on your kitchen demolition The first step of the demolition involves taking off all the existing cabinet doors. This makes unscrewing the existing cabinets much easier. Number one it reduces the weight of each cabinet, and second, it's much easier to remove a cabinet without the door swinging around and smashing your fingers.
Taking off the old kitchen cabinet doors Pull out the existing appliances
Remove all the old kitchen appliances. Slide out the range, pullout the refrigerator, pull out the microwave and yank that loud old dishwasher. Getting the appliances removed is a helpful and necessary step that will speed the demolition along. With the old appliances out of the way, you can get at those hard to reach screws and bolts in the back of the cabinets. Not to mention you won't have to worry about damaging any of them if an upper cabinet falls down on it.
My dad pulling out the old dishwasher Remove the existing counter tops Next it's time to get rid of those old beat up counters. Most counters are secured to the cabinet frames by adhesive, or they're screwed down from the underside of the counter. If the old counter is secured with adhesive, a good pull and a wonderbar will do the trick in removing them. If they're screwed down (bummer), then it's much more work. You'll have to empty the cabinets and go underneath the counter with a cordless drill and back the screws out.
Laminate counter tops removed By this point you should have the cabinet doors removed, the appliances removed, and the counter tops pulled off. Now it's time for the fun part of the demolition - the kitchen cabinet removal! Removing the existing kitchen cabinets This is the moment you've been waiting for. Once you demolish those tired, worn out looking cabinets, you'll be amazed how great the feeling is. Start the demolition by removing the base cabinets first, you don't want to be climbing over them trying to get at the upper cabinets, it's much easier if they are removed and taken out of the way.
Demo the base cabinets first Remove the upper cabinets Now that the base cabinets are removed and out of the way, the next step is to take down the upper cabinets.
That screw won’t come out, use some muscle dad!
When removing the upper cabinets, I recommend that you have two people for safety. The last thing you need during the cabinet demolition is to have an upper cabinet fall down and smash your foot to pieces. I also don’t recommend taking a sledge hammer to the existing cabinets like they do on the design shows. For starters, you can recycle your old cabinets and give them away on Craigslist like I did and being reckless demolition will only lead to damage to your walls and floor. Sure it looks sexy on TV, but trust me on this one – don’t do it!
A little help holding upper cabinets while they’re unscrewed Now that all the upper and lower cabinets have been removed and the appliances are unplugged and ready to be moved out, it’s time for a little dance...
The demo dance. What’s for dinner? Pizza & Beer! Wow is the old kitchen big! When all the existing cabinets, appliances, food, dishes and dirt are removed from the kitchen, you may think the room has grown by a couple hundred square feet. Enjoy the new space in your kitchen for a few minutes, then plan on moving in some temporary cabinets and maybe the stove so you can still eat. You do need to eat. Kitchen cabinet demolition tips for success
Get ready for a big mess. I keep talking about planning in this manual, and for good reason. Now that you've already started the demolition, it's more important now than ever. Once you start to remove and clear out the old cabinets, have an area in the house or garage ready so they can be moved out and stacked in a convenient spot. If you don't it will interfere with the cabinet installation and make your life a living hell. Plan your short term storage of food and dishes Below you'll see that we converted our dining room into a short term pantry so we still had access to food and the kids could get at snacks etc.
The dining room becomes a pantry
Keep snacks and dry food handy We moved out all of the old cabinets, appliances and counter tops into the third stall of our garage. It drove my wife crazy having the junk there, but it worked well for my purposes.
Demo’d cabinets and appliances Since that cabinets were going to be reused, I placed cardboard on the floor of the garage so they wouldn't get dinged up or full of gas and oil. [Tip] We removed our old cabinets carefully and put an ad up on freecycle.org and Craigslist.com so someone else could get some use from them. If your old cabinets are in decent shape, you should consider this option.
Planning the cabinet installation
Before you get ready to install your Ikea kitchen cabinets, get a plan together to make the whole process easier. If you push ahead with your cabinet installation without thinking about the timeline for your install, you're going to be in for a nasty surprise. How I planned my Ikea kitchen cabinet installation The first thing you'll want to do is watch the Ikea kitchen cabinet installation DVD. Watch the video a minimum of two or three times until you're comfortable with the steps shown. You can ignore the cheesy music and ideal conditions they are working under if you like :^)... Next, you'll want to watch the DVD again, this time taking notes on all the measurements and dimensions that they give you. Here are all the installation dimensions you'll need - top of upper cabinets - bottom of upper cabinet suspension rail - top base cabinet height - bottom of base cabinet height (for top of ledger board height) Measure out the cabinet heights listed above and transfer the measurements to your walls with a 4 foot or 6 foot level and a pencil like this...
Mark cabinet height level lines and centerlines of studs You'll also want to mark the stud centerlines on the wall with the help of a stud finder. You'll be attaching the upper cabinet suspension rail to the studs later, so find and mark the studs now!
Stud centerline marking for suspension rail install
Here's another picture of the level lines for the cabinet installation. You can see all the lines on the wall laid out in a grid fashion. There are two level lines at the top. The top line is the level line for the top of the upper cabinets, and the line below it is the level line for the bottom of the hanging rail. The lines running vertically are the stud centerlines I mentioned earlier. Get them marked directly down the center of the stud by using your level and a pencil as shown below...
The picture below gives you a better idea of what all the grid lines are for, the bottom level line is what you use to align the bottom of the hanging rail, and the top level line is used to align the very top edge of your cabinets when they are bolted into place.
Close-up of wall grid: horizontal lines for rail & cabinets and verticals lines for stud locations You also need to draw a level line on your grid for the ledger board that the base cabinets sit on. You can see the block below the right side of the ledger board below we put the block in because there was nowhere to secure it to the wall studs at the end.
Lower horizontal level line for ledger board install (shown w/ support block)
How to phase your cabinet installation
I'll admit I was worried about the pandemonium our kitchen remodeling project was going to create in our lives, especially with two small kids to worry about. Sure, I had things setup to run smoothly on the front end, but I wasn't convinced I could tackle installing all the Ikea kitchen cabinets in one weekend, and I couldn't afford to take off any time from work. With those circumstances in mind, there was only one solution. I needed to phase the kitchen remodel and break it into two separate weekends. Kitchen remodel phasing overview The logical choice for phasing our remodel was to break up the construction between the refrigerator side and sink side of the kitchen. Here's a drawing to illustrate the process.
Remodel Phase 1: work area is shaded By phasing the remodel, I was able to keep the kitchen up and running during the entire construction process. We started the construction by doing the demolition on the refrigerator side, and then immediately beginning the installation of the new Ikea cabinets.
Phase 1: Day 1 You can see from the picture above that by phasing the work (even planning each day out in advance), we were able to do a partial installation of the fridge side of the kitchen on day 1. On day two it was time to finish the lower cabinets and the peninsula.
Phase 1: Day 2 On day two of phase 1 of the construction, we finished the peninsula area of the fridge side, and also hung all the upper cabinets and pullout pantry. You can see the progression in the photos below.
Phase 1: Day 2 Now that we had the upper cabinets installed, we spent the rest of day two putting in the lazy Susan cabinet pictured above, and then the rest of the peninsula cabinets as seen in the picture below... At this point you can see the back of the peninsula doesn't have any cover panels on it, I installed all of the cover panels in one afternoon BEFORE the counter tops were put in.
Phase 1: Day 2 (phase 1 completed) You can see in the last picture above that it's dark out! We spent a great deal of time during the first weekend kind of feeling our way along. There is one other thing I forgot to mention about the first weekend that threw a wrench into our plans. When we got to the point of installing the two upper cabinets to the left of the fridge, we discovered that we needed to move a phone jack! A small oversight for sure, but time consuming none the less. If you scroll back up to the Phase 1: Day 1 picture you can see where the old phone jack is - and you can see where we moved it in the Phase 1 - Day 2 peninsula installed picture above. Phase 2 of My Kitchen Remodeling Project (two weeks later) The first phase of the remodel was completed and we took off a couple of weeks and waited for a long weekend for phase 2 of construction. Phase 2 of the kitchen remodeling was way more complicated than phase 1 for the simple fact that we had to do plumbing for the kitchen sink and garbage disposal, electrical work for the microwave and we had to remove multiple appliances. Remember awhile back when I beat it into you that you need to plan, plan, plan?
This is why. If I didn’t have my storage plan, staging plan and phasing plan I would have been dead in the water with no running water, no fridge, no stove and nothing to eat except pizza and McDonalds for two weeks. Here’s the phase 2 construction drawing.
Remodel Phase 2: work area is shaded Completing phase two of the kitchen remodeling project amounted to a long 3 day weekend in the middle of July. I planned ahead for an extra day off from work to make sure I finished in the allotted time and didn't leave the kitchen unusable for an entire week. Day one went along smoothly. We completed the demolition which took most of the day...
We removed all of the upper and lower cabinets and ended up with a blank slate to work on, as well as a very smelly kitchen drain...
Stinky kitchen drain, be sure to plug the end We started Phase 2: Day 2 of the job by installing the upper cabinets starting with the corner cabinet and making our way across the range side of the kitchen.
Phase 2: Day 2 It's a good thing we budgeted an extra day for phase 2 of the remodel, because as I mentioned earlier this was the most challenging phase of the project. We had to move the microwave outlet to fit the new cabinet location...
Moving the microwave outlet It was scary when we found out that whoever installed the microwave did a total MacGyver job on it. We were surprised the house hadn’t burned down yet! These dedicated outlets also pack a lot of juice so we thought it was best to write CUT POWER in big letters so we remembered to turn it off while working on it. The other close call we had this day was with the existing kitchen drain line. When we started installing the Lazy Susan base cabinet in the corner we only cleared the drain by about 3/4” of an inch!
Close Call: ¾” Drain line clearance We completed installing the upper cabinets on this side of the kitchen on day 2 and started on the Lazy Susan corner cabinet installation. .
Phase 2: Day 2 (upper cabinets range wall completed)
With a slow workday on day 2, that meant we needed to install the rest of the upper cabinets on the other side of the sink, and finish the rest of the base cabinets in one day! On day 3 of phase 2, we had to install all the upper cabinets and base cabinets on the sink side of the kitchen, which meant precise measurements and cool tempers were the rule of the day. We were on the home stretch now!
Leveling the cabinets on either side of the range While installing the base cabinets I took a little bit of time to do a plumbing mock-up for the garbage disposal before the cabinet was installed. It’s much easier to get in, around and behind your plumbing before it’s bolted to the wall so if you have any concerns as I did, take the time to do it right before proceeding.
Kitchen sink and garbage disposal mock-up
Phase 2: Day 3 cabinet install completion
The end of cabinet installation...FINALLY!!! When the all the cabinets were installed we were ready to put back the appliances and slap together a makeshift countertop so we could use the microwave and have a place to make the kids lunch and snacks. If you have a keen eye and remember back a ways in this book you would have noticed that the final remodel pictures have stainless steel appliances. Well, the reason for that is I tried to save a few bucks by buying white appliances because we already had a white fridge from our old house. Once we got the cabinets installed and started doing flooring and countertop samples we instantly knew that we wanted stainless steel so these went back to the manufacturer and we sold the fridge – lesson learned. Now that you have the overview of how to phase your kitchen remodeling project, it's time to dive in, roll up your sleeves and get all the nitty gritty detail of how to install your upper cabinets and base cabinets.
How to install the Ikea cabinet suspension rail
Ooooohhhhh. Aaaaaaaah. It's the mysterious and highly misunderstood Ikea suspension rail.
Ikea suspension rail in its’ native habitat You can see from the picture above, the Ikea suspension rail isn't as hard to capture on film as once thought. This piece of metal is the foundation for installing the Ikea upper cabinets, and it works wonderfully well. It's a model of simplicity. You secure the rail to the wall and slide in the supplied cabinet mounting hardware pictured below and you're ready to go.
Suspension rail hardware How to hang the Ikea suspension rail To start, you'll need to do the required preparation and get your upper cabinet height established using the grid system (see Ikea kitchen installation DVD for height). Your installation will probably not be identical to what they show on the installation DVD. When I did my calculations I had to add 3/4" to the height of the suspension rail because we put in our flooring later. If you forget an important item like forgetting to allow for you future flooring it could screw-up your whole remodel! Once you've got the upper cabinet height, take that number and subtract 2 1/2" to get the bottom level line for the hanging suspension rail. It will look something like this when you lay it out...
Ikea suspension rail level lines and stud location grid The two horizontal lines in the upper part of the picture above show the level line for the upper cabinets, and the level line for the suspension rail 2 1/2" below it. Once you have the level lines drawn on the wall, find the wall studs at 16" on center, and draw a plumb line down the wall to the floor and mark "stud" on it (as shown above). Use a large level for drawing the lines on your wall, I used a 4 foot level to do mine. It's more cost effective and easier to use than a 6 foot level and did the job just fine. Securing the Ikea suspension rail to the wall I used 2 1/2" deck screws secured (2) screws directly into each stud like you can see in the picture below...
Suspension rail secured to studs with 2 ½” deck screws Take a close look at the spot where the vertical pencil lines on the wall meet the suspension rail, you'll notice two 2 1/2" deck screws securing the rail to each stud (the screw heads are green). How to measure the suspension rail to fit The suspension rail should be cut a 1/4" shorter than your total cabinet run. For example, if you have three upper cabinets on one wall, place all the cabinets on the ground side by side so they're touching each other and measure the total distance from outside of the first cabinet to the outside of the third cabinet. Write that measurement down, and subtract 1/4". The result is the total length of the suspension rail for that run of cabinets. Suspension rail length example: total width of wall cabinets - 1/4" = suspension rail length or 67" - 1/4" = 66 3/4" Here’s what the suspension rail looks like when it’s all installed and before the cabinets get hung on it.
Pretty simple isn't it? You'll really appreciate the hanging suspension rail when you start to hang the upper cabinets that are coming up next.
Clamping techniques for cabinet installation
It's not too hard to figure out how to clamp cabinets together, but there are a couple of tricks to getting the job done right so your cabinet frames line up properly when you finish.
Fridge cover panel clamped to over fridge cabinet
Fridge cover panel clamped to 12” base cabinet The (2) pictures above demonstrate the proper way to clamp cover panels to cabinet boxes (notice the cardboard used on the bottom clamp to avoid damaging the cabinet). Good clamping was vital in this step of my remodel. The clamp connections I had to make to the fridge cover panel on the base cabinet and the over the fridge cabinet had to be done exactly right. If this connection was done sloppily and half-assed, it would've screwed up the whole Phase 1 installation! Clamping multiple cabinets together before ganging them Here's a good picture of how to clamp multiple upper cabinets together before you gang them with the Ikea screws.
Upper cabinets clamped together prior to ganging together We took great care to install the corner cabinet first and bolt it to the suspension rail tightly. We then proceeded to hang the rest of the upper cabinets in this run and clamp them together to make sure we had all the front face frames of the cabinets line up.
Peninsula cabinets clamped together after leveling and plumbing
Getting everything lined up right and clamping things into place is the #1 most important job when you install the cabinets. In the picture above we clamped the peninsula base cabinets together and left them over night because we ran short on time and couldn't finish leveling them and ganging them together. [Tip] The bottom line is this. Get a minimum of (6) and more like (8) good clamps to use during the cabinet installation. The best types of clamps to use have the rubberized or padded jaws. If you use regular wood clamps you will damage your cabinets!
How to install Ikea upper cabinets
You've solved the mystery of the Ikea suspension rail, and now it's time to install your Ikea upper kitchen cabinets! Before you run out to the garage and grab your first cabinet, I need to revisit the suspension rail again to give you some instructions...
Ikea suspension rail revisited, time to use it Notice the bottom of the suspension rail has a "groove" or "channel" in it. Before you install upper cabinets, you need to slide two of the supplied cabinet bolts into the channel for each cabinet. If you have three upper cabinets on the wall you're working on, slide on six bolts. Hanging Ikea upper kitchen cabinets is a 2 person job For the love of God, don't even think of attempting to hang your upper cabinets alone, the base cabinets maybe, but not the upper cabinets! To install the upper cabinets you'll need these tools - supplied suspension rail bolts (they come with each cabinet) - 4 foot level - 6-8 clamps with rubber tips - 18 volt cordless screwdriver - magnetized Phillips head screw driver
- supplied cabinet ganging screws - socket set - time (sold separately) Start the upper cabinet installation from a corner wall To start the installation of your upper cabinets, start in a corner and work your way out from there.
Start your upper cabinet installation in the corner My dad is pretty strong, huh? He can hold that corner cabinet with one finger! I know I was impressed when I witness this amazing feat in person... Install the corner cabinet and get it level with the level line you drew on the wall earlier, then get it plumb (use your 4 foot level as mentioned earlier). You may need to use wood shims to help get the cabinet plumb. Secure the cabinet to the suspension rail but don't tighten all the way down. Next, install the second cabinet on the suspension rail bolts and line it up with the corner cabinet. Again, get it level and plumb just like the first one. Line up the face frames of the two cabinets and clamp them together so they look like this.
Upper cabinets clamped together before ganging together You can see the corner cabinet on the right, and the second upper cabinet box positioned properly and clamped together with the face of the frames lining up and the top of each cabinet at exactly the same height. Now that you've got your first two cabinets installed, continue with the process of hanging the upper cabinets on the suspension rail hardware and line up the face frame of the cabinet box with the previous one. It's really simple, as long as your first upper cabinet in the corner is installed level and plumb you can get the rest of the upper cabinets up in no time flat.
Upper cabinets installed above range If you take a look back at the first picture of installing the upper cabinets, you'll notice that the time in the picture is 12:27 p.m. and the picture above the time is 2:45 p.m. That means that once you get the hang of it (and there are no unforeseen problems) you should be able to install 4-5 upper cabinets in just over 2 hours of honest work. Not to shabby, huh? Before you know it, you'll have a whole wall of upper cabinets installed, then it’s on to the base cabinets.
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How to install Ikea base cabinets
The upper cabinets are all installed in your kitchen, now it's time for the base cabinet installation to complete the job. The base cabinets are installed using adjustable legs that are exclusive to Ikea. You don't have to monkey around with any shims on the bottom. Here's what the bag of leg parts looks like when you open it up.
Ikea bag-o-leg-parts: mounting plates, legs & caps
Base cabinet leg mounting plates Secure the each of the mounting plates with 2 screws (not included with the mounting plates - get them at the hardware store).
Wood screws used secure mounting plates
To install the adjustable legs, you first put on the supplied mounting plates as show above...
Adjustable legs inserted into mounting plates And then you just slip one of the legs into the mounting plate and you're done. It doesn't get any easier than that. If your floor isn't 100% level (and it's not), you just raise or lower one of the adjustable legs on the bottom until your cabinet is at the right height and it's level front to back, and side to side... and you're done. To save time and frustration, adjust all the legs to the proper height BEFORE you tip the cabinet right side up for installation, like this...
Adjust the legs before turning the cabinet over OK, you've got the adjustable base cabinet legs installed on the boxes, now you're ready to get the first cabinet put in. But before you do, get the ledger board installed...remember planning your cabinet installation, you did draw a level line for the ledger board didn't you?
Base cabinet ledger board installed with blocking The ledger board should be pre-drilled where it will be screwed into the wall studs. In the picture above, you can see that we secured the ledger board with (2) 2 1/2" deck screws at each stud location. If there's no stud to screw the ledger board (see picture above and below), make sure you take a scrap piece of ledger board and cut your own support block that you can screw into the bottom wall plate like this.
Blocking on right side under ledger board The top of the ledger board should be 4 5/16" above the finished kitchen floor. You should also have a level line marked at 34 1/2" from the finished floor - that's the height to the top edge of the base cabinets when they're installed. How to install the first base cabinet Just like installing the upper cabinets, the base cabinet installation should start in a corner (like with the Lazy Susan below on the left).
Start the base cabinets in the corner (on left) Once the corner base cabinet is level and plumb (take your time to get it right or you'll be sorry later), put the adjoining cabinets in place and adjust the feet so your cabinet frames line up and the whole run of cabinets is plumb and level. Next, you clamp the adjoining cabinets together, then gang them together with screws through hole number 4 and secure the back of the cabinet to either the ledger board or a wall stud - or use my "base cabinet cleat tip" to get a secure connection.
Clamps on base cabinets on the peninsula Continue installing the base cabinets along the wall until you reach a point where there will be an appliance like a range, fridge or dishwasher as shown in the next picture.
The cabinet on the left is a 30" sink base cabinet that's attached to a 37" corner lazy Susan (out of view). The 24" gap between the base cabinets is reserved for the dishwasher that will be installed later. You'll notice that there is no ledger board in the dishwasher opening, if you installed a ledger behind your dishwasher, range or refrigerator you won't be able to get the appliances to fit. When you're installing the base cabinets, you get them level first, then clamp them together. At some point you're going to have a gap between the base cabinets for an appliance like a dishwasher, range or fridge. The space between base cabinets will vary by appliance, you'll need 24" for a dishwasher, 30" for a range and 36" for a refrigerator (measure your appliances to verify the widths as your results may vary). To ensure that the space between the cabinets is uniform and level, measure the opening between the base cabinets at the front and also at the back. If you don't, you may find that your cabinet opening for the dishwasher is 24" in the front, and 23 1/2" in the back -- NOT GOOD! Here’s how the process works. In the following photo you can see the 30” opening for my range. I measured 30” along the wall for the opening and drew a plumb line with my 4 foot level to mark the location of the edge of the cabinet box and moved the cabinet into position like this.
Plumb line for base cabinet Once I got the cabinet into the proper position I ran my 4 foot level across the opening to make sure the cabinet was level with my corner cabinet.
Use a 4 foot level between base cabinets How to secure base cabinets to wall studs When I installed my base cabinets it became clear that attaching them to the wall wasn't going to be as easy as it looked in the Ikea video so I had to come up with a solution on my own so here’s what I did. There are two holes in the metal clips in the back of each cabinet that you're suppose to use - but if they don't match up with the wall studs your screwed right? Wrong. Here's how to do it. Since there is no good way to attach the base cabinets to the studs at the corner clips, we decided to put in a piece of poplar wood that spans across the entire width of the base cabinet and cover the metal corner clips like this.
Poplar wood cleat w/ shims secured to wall studs What you need to do is have your studs located before you put in the cabinets so you know where you can get a good strong attachment to a stud in the wall. I used (2) 3" deck screws and pre-drilled the holes in the poplar cleat, then ran the screws through the blocking, securing the cabinet to the wall. We used this method to secure all of our base cabinets to the wall. We shimmed them first to make sure they were plumb and level, then we installed the cleat, and finally anchored each one the ledger board at the bottom of each cabinet with deck screws. Here's another a picture so you know what I'm talking about. This shot shows how we used the wood cleat to secure the sink cabinet to the wall.
Poplar wood cleat at sink cabinet [Tip] You can see the wood cleat spans the entire length of the cabinet and sits OVER the metal brackets and is screwed to the wall at each stud location with 3" deck screws. You can also see the shims we used for the sink cabinet to make sure it was plumb and level before we secured the cabinet to the wall. How to install leg blocking for stand-alone base cabinets When we were installing the 15" base cabinet to the left of the range, we were worried that it could get knocked loose from the wall if it was bumped into hard enough.
15” stand-alone base cabinet to left of range To solve this problem we did 3 things. The first thing we did was install a poplar cleat along the top of the inside. The second thing we did was to secure the base of the cabinet to the ledger board with a couple of deck screws. The third and most important step we took to make sure the cabinet wouldn't twist if it was bumped into was to screw a 2x4 down to the subfloor between the feet of the cabinet.
2x4 wood blocking screwed to subfloor between cabinet legs You might think that adding 2x4 blocking between the cabinet legs is overkill, but I'd do it all over again. Part of the reason for the extra bit of assurance can be directly linked to my two kids. They have a tendency to be very rough on things and cabinetry is no exception. When you install the 2x4 make sure to set it in back of the legs or you won't be able to get your toe kick (plinth) clipped onto the legs!
How to make a peninsula with Ikea cabinets
If you've read this far in my Ikea kitchen cabinets guide, you've seen at least one picture of my kitchen peninsula.
Completed peninsula w/ countertops installed When I was designing my kitchen remodeling project, I tried various layouts but always came back to the peninsula design concept. It makes sense to have a place in the kitchen where the kids can eat breakfast, or you can sit and read the paper over coffee in the morning. Here's how I built my kitchen peninsula with Ikea cabinets Constructing a peninsula using Ikea cabinets is pretty simple. Since all the Ikea cabinet boxes have the adjustable leveling legs on them, all you really need to do is determine a starting point for the peninsula (like a lazy Susan corner cabinet) and join more base cabinets to it (see installing Ikea base cabinets for details). Follow along with the sequenced pictures below.
Start with a Lazy Susan corner cabinet
Alternate view of corner cabinet For my kitchen peninsula design, I used an Ikea corner lazy Susan cabinet for the starting point (two pictures above), a 36" pots and pans cabinet, and a 15" pullout cabinet on the end that we use as a garbage center.
Peninsula cabinets clamped together prior to ganging When I got the lazy Susan cabinet secured to the wall, it was just a matter of joining the 36" base cabinet to it using clamps and leveling the feet, then securing the 15" pullout trash cabinet (see picture above). Later we used the supplied Ikea bolts securing each cabinet together with two bolts in the front and two in the back (through the middle of the cabinet as shown in the picture below) after everything was plumb and level.
Cabinets secured together with supplied ganging bolts Here's a better shot of the finished peninsula from the side. You can see the corner lazy Susan cabinet with the door on it. I made sure to shim the cabinet plumb and level it, then pre-drilled through the back in (6) locations and secured it to the wall studs with 2 1/2" deck screws. *Use a minimum of six screws to secure it to the wall studs.
Completed peninsula prior to countertop installation
My dad was concerned that we should secure the peninsula to the subfloor, but I figured that after the cabinets get loaded down with a few hundred pounds of stuff and the counter tops are secured, that peninsula isn't going anywhere! For the back of the peninsula, you have a couple of options for finishing it off. Option one is to use the large Ikea fridge panel and rip it down to size, or use individual end cover panels. We opted for the individual cover panels, the reason being, if you use the large fridge end panel the grain on the birch would run horizontal, not vertical like the rest of the finished cabinets. It's a small detail, and required extra work, but I think the finished product looks that much better and was worth it in the long run.
Cabinet door and hinge installation tips
There are four main parts to Ikea kitchen cabinets: - cabinet box - cabinet hinges - cabinet doors - and cabinet end panels (or cover panels as Ikea likes to call them) The cabinet doors and cover panels are installed after the upper cabinets, base cabinets and interior cabinet hardware. Don't bother putting in any of the hinges either, they'll just get in the way or get damaged. The cabinet doors are available in a wide variety of styles and colors. You can go to Ikea.com to see the most current styles and finishes. We chose to go with the Adel Birch because it has a clean contemporary look and simple Shaker style doors.
Adel Birch cabinets Ikea cabinet doors are easy to install Installing the cabinet doors is easy, you just need to unpack them and install the Blum hinges. You don't even need any screws!
Blum hinges in open pre-install position The hinges drop into the pre-drilled holes that are at the top and bottom of the cabinet door. When you put them in make sure the back of the hinge mechanism is popped open like you see in the picture above. Next place the hinge over the hole in the cabinet door and push the hinge in. Finally snap the back of the hinge shut. That's it you're done! Pretty easy huh?
Cabinet hinge receiver in cabinet box The other half of the hinge (in the foreground of the picture above) is installed inside the cabinet box in holes 2 and 3 (leave the top hole empty). Install the hinges with the long side pointing to the inside of the cabinet box. The first interior cabinet door hinge I installed I put it in backwards and had to wreck it to get it out. Install the hinge like I've shown in the picture, with the long side pointing in. When the hinges are installed inside the cabinet and to the cabinet door, just clip them in place.
Ikea drawer box assembly tutorial
To assemble the Ikea kitchen drawers, you don't really need that many tools, most of the connections snap together. All you need to get the job done is a Phillips head screwdriver. Step 1
Ikea drawer parts for assembly Unpack the drawer box package and remove the parts bag for later use. Depending on the type of drawer, there may be one or two assemblies in the box. Step 2
Drawer box side and back panels The next step is to get the drawer sides and drawer back and lay them out like this. Step 3
Drawer side and back joined
Next join one of the long side pieces to the back as shown. And connect the other long side piece to the back just like the first one. Step 3 Close-up
The back piece clicks into the side piece like this
And the other side goes on the same way
Step 4 Once you have the drawer sides and back assembled it’s time to grab the drawer bottom and slide it into the groove. The grooved side of the panel goes on the bottom.
Slide on the drawer bottom with groove facing down
Close-up of the drawer bottom groove Step 5 Once you have the drawer assembly built above, find the drawer front to your drawer box (note the drawer front will be in a different box from the drawer box).
Drawer front panel and parts
Remove the hardware as shown and get out your Phillips screwdriver. You'll be installing the metal clips for the drawer front. To do so, locate these screws...
Drawer front screws There are four long screws and four shorter screws. The long screws are used for attaching the metal clips to the drawer front and the short screws are used for securing the drawer rails to the inside of the cabinet box.
Short screws for securing metal clips to panel Attach one metal clip with the long screws to each side of the back of the drawer panel so it looks like this.
Drawer front panel with both clips attached Step 6
The last step to assembling the drawer is to secure the front panel to the drawer frame you built earlier. Simply slide the drawer front into the box in the receiving rails and you’re done.
Front panel being mounted to drawer box
Interior cabinet hardware and accessories
One of the big draws for us when we chose Ikea cabinets was the interior cabinet hardware selection. Ikea cabinets come unassembled in a flat packed box that you build and then outfit with any one of a number of interior cabinet hardware choices such as a: - pull out pantry - pull out wire baskets - pull out garbage - sink cabinet hardware - Lazy Susan cabinet - drawer organizer The options are truly mind boggling. Here's a couple pictures of our interior cabinet hardware that I installed in my kitchen.
Pullout wire shelving
Pullout under sink organizer
Lazy Susan cabinet hardware
36” drawer organizer and divider Ikea cabinet hardware is great for two reasons. First, it's designed for Ikea cabinets exclusively, and second it's a great deal, they don't charge you an arm an a leg for it. You don't need to order all your interior cabinet hardware right away. After we had the kitchen up and running for awhile we went back to Ikea and bought the 36" drawer divider and the under sink cabinet organizer.
The Ikea Lazy Susan cabinet
If you've got a smaller kitchen like mine, a lazy Susan cabinet is the solution you need. I can't imagine being without ours. We liked the lazy Susan cabinets so much, that I installed two of them in my new kitchen design.
Lazy Susan by fridge and range They're on opposite corners of the kitchen. One is next to the range and holds the pots and pans, and the other Lazy Susan anchors the corner on the peninsula (handy for holding the kids snacks and cereal). You won't believe how much stuff you can cram into one of them. It still amazes me whenever I open it up! The Ikea Lazy Susan installation I waited to install the Lazy Susan hardware until cabinet boxes and counter top were installed. It worked out fine. The hardware goes together easily, and it's just a matter of placing the shelves on the vertical pole and securing the whole assembly to the cabinet base and the bottom of the
counter top. To install the Ikea Lazy Susan you'll want to assemble the shelves first, then find and cut out the templates that come with the package. Tape the supplied templates to the underside of your counter tops and the base of the lazy Susan cabinet. Mark the spots on the template where you'll be securing the shelf pole bracket and use a center punch or awl and poke a hole through the template and gouge the underside of the counter. Next install the upper pole support as shown in the photo below. If you have laminate counter tops like me, use a 3/4" piece hardwood blocking as a spacer.
Lazy Susan under counter mount made from Oak blocking After the upper support is installed as shown above, install the pole base support with your template. When you're ready to install the Lazy Susan hardware, slide both shelves on the pole inside the cabinet and extend the pole into the upper support bracket and use one of the supplied screws to secure it in place. When the center pole is raised and secured in the extended position to the under counter mounting (shown above) you won't be able to put a shelf on the pole, so make sure and get the shelves onto the pole inside the cabinet before you extend it!
Lazy Susan wire shelves installed Use at least one Lazy Susan cabinet in your kitchen remodeling plan. Try putting one by your range or snack area for maximum impact. We put one on each side of the kitchen and couldn't be happier with how many pots and pans and snacks they can hold.
The Ikea pullout pantry
For anyone who has struggled to find the last box of macaroni and cheese in the pantry while your kids are whining incessantly about how hungry they are, don't despair - for Ikea has a pull out pantry that can solve all of your, "where's that can of soup" problems of the past. Every house I've owned has had a pantry, and I've despised them all with a passion. I wanted to create a faux pull out pantry in my last house, but it seemed cost prohibitive to buy those rev a shelf after market drawers. When it came time to remodel the kitchen in my new house, I knew there had to be a better solution, and there is. It's the Ikea pullout pantry.
The Ikea pullout pantry, pure genius The Ikea pullout pantry cabinet comes in various sizes, we installed a 15” pull out pantry in our kitchen to the right of the fridge. The design of the pantry is clever. As you can see in the picture above, the top and
bottom shelves are attached to the cabinet front. When you pull out the pantry those two shelves come out. The other 3 pantry drawers pull out to full extension individually.
Pullout pantry on right side of fridge You can see how the pull out pantry fits in a tight spot, we put our pantry between the fridge and the closet wall to the right. [Tip] If you're installing a pull out pantry right next to a wall beware! I didn't allow enough room (didn't shim it out enough) and I had to take the door off and bring it down to the local cabinet shop and have them plane it down ¼”.
Pullout garbage cabinet
I almost went out and bought one of those over priced pull out trash retro fit kits for like $200 bucks. Then I pulled my head out of my butt. It occurred to me that ordering an after market pull out trash fitting for an Ikea cabinet is a complete waste of money. Ikea cabinets can be outfitted with a variety of interior cabinet fittings, one of which is a pull out drawer combination like this.
Pullout garbage cabinet Our pull out trash cabinet is a 15" Ikea base cabinet with the top two drawers not installed. You can see the pull out tension rails that keep the can from tipping over are standard equipment. There's plenty of room in a 15" pull out trash for a 33 gallon trash can, dust pan and huge box of extra trash can bags.
Pullout garbage location in 15” cabinet at end of peninsula Where to place your pull out trash cabinet Having a pull out trash in your kitchen is one thing, having it in the right location is quite another. We placed our pull out trash at the end of the peninsula which happens to be directly across from the dishwasher. A pull out trash is a must have in my opinion, there's no substitute for not having to stare at that big ugly trash can in the middle of your kitchen. And the smell, there isn't any smell unless you open the pull out drawer. Here’s another floor plan of my kitchen so you can see the relationship between the garbage location and the dishwasher.
Pullout garbage location reference I can't stress enough, the importance of the location of your garbage in the kitchen. Since our pullout garbage is located directly across from the dishwasher it makes cleanup after dinner a snap. All I have to do is scrape the dishes into the garbage, and turn around and drop them into the dishwasher. It's a real time saver!
The perfect storm
I think I angered the Ikea Kitchen Gods in some way, because during the second phase of the remodeling project a nasty storm was amassing directly over my house!
I was convinced that at any moment there would be a funnel cloud dropping down and ripping my house from its' foundation!
As I watched helplessly, the storm grew in size and power. It was at this point that it wasn't a matter of if this storm would hit my house, it was a matter of when.
All I could do now was drop to my knees and pray to the "Ikea Kitchen Gods" to spare me from their wrath! What had I done to anger them so?
All was trying to do was make my kitchen a little nicer and get rid of some old cabinets, PLEASE SPARE ME! Pretty dramatic story, huh? This storm did actually blow through during phase 2 of the remodel on Saturday morning. We never did spot a tornado, but it did rain about 2" in a torrential downpour that lasted about 30 minutes. I wasn't really that worried about the house getting hit by a twister, I was more worried about losing power to the house for the rest of the day which would leave me unable to finish putting in my cabinets! I thought you might enjoy this little sidebar story after all the technical information I've been cramming down your throat in the rest of the book.
The Brain Trust
I was glad to have some help doing my kitchen remodeling project. My dad helped me with the cabinet installation and demo. You've probably seen him in some of the pictures goofing off, instead of working. I only yelled at him 2 or 3 times max, honestly. Since we were doing the remodel at my house I called the shots. It was an interesting role reversal and my Dad played the part of right hand man to a tee. We got along amazingly well, all things considered. A complete kitchen overhaul can be a bit stressful, but you wouldn't know it by how we acted. We're best pals, really.
The Brain Trust having a minor disagreement OK, OK...I admit that it wasn't all smiles and sunshine during the project. We are Germans, what did you expect. A healthy dose of discussion and friendly disagreement should be expected when you're doing any kind of project, and that goes double for kitchen remodeling. Thanks you for taking time to read Kitchen Remodeling Help. I sincerely hope that you’ve gleaned at least a couple of helpful tips and techniques that will make your kitchen remodeling project a big success. Please CLICK HERE to review my book on Amazon Kindle, Thanks! - Bret
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