Updating a kitchen with the latest cabinetry, countertop, fixtures and appliances can increase a home's value. In a kitchen renovation, replacing the kitchen cabinets and countertops are the most common updates that homeowners tackle.
If you are planning to replace the kitchen cabinets and countertops, it is best to do them at the same time. Demolition work would be easier if you know you are replacing them all anyway, cutting the time considerably. Since you will be using the original footprint of your existing kitchen, you may not need to get a building permit. However, for new plumbing and electrical wiring, you may need to pass a local inspection.
Before removing the old cabinetry and countertops, take the measurements and order your materials ahead of time. Don't do the demolition work until you have a confirmation of when your shipment will arrive or until you have received your materials. In case you are considering granite or solid countertops, it's important to make accurate measurements. You may need to order only after installing the base cabinets and doing the measurements on them.
Remove the old cabinetry and countertops using a crowbar, sledgehammer, hammer, screwdriver or anything you may need to do the demolition work. Use safety goggles and work gloves to protect yourself.
Patch the holes and cracks on the walls. Paint the walls before installing the new cabinets and countertops. This way it's easier to get to the corners and just do touch-ups later on.
Kitchen Cabinet Installation
Materials needed are a tape measure, screwdriver, screws, rubber mallet, level and wood putty.
Locate the studs on the walls and mark them with perpendicular lines. Normally, the next stud is 24 inches away from the first one and the next. Install the upper or wall cabinets first to make maneuvering easier. Before installing the cabinets, remove the doors and drawers to lessen the weight. Assemble the cabinets that would be next to each other on a flat surface by screwing them on their face frames, adjacent to each other. Clamp the cabinets together. Drill holes along the stile--one hole each on the top, center and bottom part of the stile--and then drive the screws in. Make sure that the frames are flush with each other. Use a rubber mallet to make adjustments as needed.
Lift the cabinets up with the help of another person. Drive the screws halfway through the marked studs from the top lip of the cabinet cases found at the back of the cabinet frame. Check the level before driving the screws all the way down. Use ledger boards or T-Jaks to support the wall units. Check the strength of the cabinets by tugging or pulling down. Place the cabinet doors and add hardware such as knobs or pulls.
Next, install the base cabinets. Use the same stud marks aligned with the upper cabinets. Remove the doors and drawers for easier handling and installation. Push the base cabinets against the wall, as snug as possible. Drill holes through the back frame of the cabinets and then drive in the screws halfway through, checking the level each time before driving the screws all the way through. If the floor is not level, add shimmies by using thin scrap wood cut into pieces and sliding them under the base cabinet. Push them with a mallet so that they don't stick out. Attach the cabinet doors, drawers and hardware. Connect the moldings to finish the installation. Apply wood putty where the screw-heads are visible.
When installing the wall and base cabinets, make sure to leave enough space for the appliances, such as range hood, built-in wall oven, microwave, cooktop or range, dishwasher, trash compactor and sink.
Granite Countertop Installation
Materials needed are a tape measure, plywood, wood veneer, circular saw, granite adhesive and razor blade. For do-it-yourself installation, it's best to measure and create templates so that when you order your granite, you'll have the exact measurement, shape and size. This way, you won't need to trim or cut them upon delivery.
Determine if you prefer an under-mount sink. Most people prefer under-mount for a seamless look and for easy cleanup. Others prefer a top-mount sink installation in case they feel the need to replace the kitchen sink in the future.
Measure the top of the cabinet base and create a template for a plywood or wood veneer. Make cutouts for the sink, fixtures and cooktop. Take your measurement and templates to the granite manufacturer. You need a duplicate of the templates for your countertop base. Do this before bringing your templates to the manufacturer. Advise the manufacturer of the type of finish (honed or not) and edging to use (bullnose, straight edge and others).
Install the base for the countertops on top of the base cabinets. Install your sink for under-mount installation before the granite arrives. You need two people to help with carrying and maneuvering the granites. Lay the slab carefully on top of the countertop base. If there is more than one piece, make sure to connect them snugly and butt-join them together before applying the granite adhesives. You can pre-order the granite adhesive from the same granite manufacturer in order to get the correct shade to match the color of the granite. Apply the adhesive and use a razor blade to apply and remove the excess. Install the backsplash against the wall. Use mortar or adhesives made for granites.
Install the faucet fixtures and apply silicone caulk around the rims to prevent water seepage. Install the cooktop on top if you have one, or push the range into place. Clean the surface and apply granite sealer to protect it from water penetration and stains. Don't use the counter for at least 24 hours.