Kitchens – How to really fit your own

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The first section of DIY Questions are in answer to the internet top searched terms – the following section are from visitors to the website

How Long Does It Take To Fit A Kitchen?

How Much Does It Cost?
The joint number one questions asked here are how long does it take to fit a kitchen and how much does it cost, to which there is no real answer. It depends on many factors and the only real way to get an idea of how long yours will take is to get a couple of kitchen fitters round to give you a quote. They will be able to estimate how long it will take and how much they would charge and you won’t be under obligation to use either of them unless you so wish. Many kitchens l have fitted have started of as a simple assemble units and install the basic kitchen but soon turn into laying floors and tiling walls so my original estimate of 4 to 5 days goes out of the window. In my experience most standard kitchens take 5 days to complete – that includes plumbing the sink and washing machine etc. If you need to get an electrician in that could cause delays as the fitter has to wait or try to work alongside him and that’s not easy, the same applies to a gas fitter. If you allowed 10 days from start to finish that would be enough for everything including tiles, floor, electrics and gas.
What Tools Do I Need To Fit A Kitchen
You will find the main tools on the Tools Needed page of this site – the remainder are pretty standard tools and are all featured in the book. If you are planning a career in fitting kitchens it is best to buy the more expensive well known tools, if you are aiming just to fit your own kitchen the cheaper tools will do the job but don’t expect them to last a lifetime.
How To Fit Kitchen Units
The book contains all you need to know about assembling and fitting base and wall units as it is too long an answer to go into on this page.
Kitchen Fitting Tips
You probably won’t find more tips on kitchen fitting than there are in the book.
Plinth Fitting
The plinth is the removable strip of laminate fitted to the legs of the base units. Simply screw the plinth clips to the back of the laminate, usually just above centre and just push the clip onto the leg. One clip per leg is needed unless you have two legs next to each other then just one is enough. To buy plinth clips you will need to visit B&Q or the like and they are usually sold in bags of 5.
How To Fit A Kitchen Sink
The book contains all you need to know about fitting, plumbing and sealing kitchen sinks into worktops.
Cutting Kitchen Cornice
It’s never easy to cut and fit cornice to perfection – the book has instructions and diagrams to help you out. A better way is to get a helpful friend to do it for you if you cannot manage it..
Visitor Questions
Q- When I came to join my worktop
, the front and back were flush but it seems to stick up a bit in the middle – what can l do?

A- It is quite a common problem and is usually caused by incorrect storage of the worktop. If it has been on its side leaning against a wall for a couple of weeks it is almost certainly the cause. Even though laminate worktops are made from chipped wood they still react to temperature and humidity.  The best way to remedy the problem is to place a wedge ( 3 or 4 mm) under each side of the worktop, put a heavy weight in the middle and leave it for some time. The problem with that method is that it can take quite a few days for the wood to react, you also need to monitor it regularly as you don’t want the worktop to bow in the middle. A quicker method is to find some thick metal plates to screw to the underside of the worktop either side of the centre bolt hole once the joint is together. Assemble the joint with PVA and colour matched  sealer and do the bolts up until the join is snug. Then using either a rubber mallet or a piece of scrap wood, tap the worktop until it is flush near the bolt. Tighten the bolt and move to the next one. You may need to repeat it a few times until the whole worktop is flush and the bolts are tight. If the process causes the sealer to set hard you will need to use the small bottle of thinners to remove it. Once the join is flush, screw the plates on and usually this will keep the centres flush.

Q – What’s best for sealing the sawn edges of cut-outs for hobs and sinks?

A – Normally two coats of waterproof PVA is sufficient. Just make sure that the hob or sink are fitted correctly and that they wont allow water to seep underneath.

Q I have just bought a new oven and it has a plug fitted to it. Can l just plug it into a socket? I thought l needed a special cable.

A – The simple answer is yes, if the oven is manufactured with a lead and plug then it is suitable to be used in a normal ring main socket. Single ovens use roughly the same power as a one bar electric fire. The special cable and switch you refer to are for electric hobs which must always have the correct cable and switch.

Q – I am planning to replace my sink with a newer one, l don’t have any of the sealer strip to seal between the worktop and the sink, is it ok to use sealant?

A – I have used sealant many times to refit sinks – make sure when you take the old sink out that you brush either PVA sealer or varnish onto any bare edges of the cutout to prevent any water seeping into it. I normally use a silicone that is translucent when dry, when applied it is white but within a few hours it dries and appears clear. Use plenty of it to ensure a good seal all the way around and wipe the excess off as soon as possible.

Q – I am thinking of replacing my laminate worktop with slate ones. Is it as simple as it seems or will l have to change anything?

A – If you are lucky you may not need to change anything. The only problem with slate is that it is much thinner than laminated worktop. Slate is normally 19 to 25mm thick whereas laminate is 40mm. This will create a gap between the worktop and wall on the back edge which can easily be covered with upstands that your slate supplier will sell you. You will also need to check the area under the sink and hob as both will sit approximately 15mm lower than they are currently. You may need to cut away some of the cupboards below or adjust the plumbing and/or gas pipes to accommodate them, which is why l say you may be lucky!

Q – I have fitted the sink into the worktop but when l lay it on top of the cupboards the sink clips prevent the worktop from sitting flush, do l cut the cupboards or the worktop to rectify it?

A – It’s always easier to cut away sections of the cupboards where the sink clips sit. Mark the areas of the clips and using a sharp chisel or saw, remove enough to allow the clips to sit flush. I rarely attempt to remove any of the underside of the worktop as one slip can be expensive. Be cautious when cutting the front rail of the cupboard as it is not too rigid until the worktop is fitted.

Q – Something that annoys me about my kitchen is a wire going from the extractor hood and up behind a cupboard where it plugs in. Can l sink the wire into the wall so it is not visible?

A – If you sink the wire into the wall you will not be able to remove the extractor if you ever need to. If you were planning to sink the wire into the wall you may want to consider getting an electrician to move the power socket to behind the chimney of the extractor making it both accessible and invisible.

Q – I have added a some of the new units with adjustable legs to my old units with the rigid sides, the problem is the plinth sits further forward of the new unit with legs. I presume l need to somehow cut away some of the old unit to allow the plinth to sit back some more?

A – That is one solution, as you can see it is not easy to get any type of saw into that small space though. An easier remedy is to fit the plinth to the old units and measure the gap between the new legs and the plinth. Cut a piece of wood (usually a spare piece of plinth) and screw it to the back of the plinth in line with the legs. Then screw the plinth clips on and it should all click into place. If you don’t want unsightly screws showing when you attach the plinth to the old cabinets, screw through the bottom of the cupboard and down into the plinth to hold it in place.

 What is the best way to remove ceramic tiles?

A Firstly, it’s a must to wear thick gloves and goggles while removing tiles. They can be similar to razor blades once broken and there is nothing worse than bleeding all over your new kitchen. My favourite way to remove tiles is with an SDS drill that has a chisel action. Use a wide bladed chisel and you should be able to knock all of the tiles of similar to shearing sheep. If you don’t possess and can’t borrow an SDS drill you will have to resort to the least favourite bolster and chisel method. Knock the tiles of  and put them into a dustbin for ease of removal. You will probably need to use some patching plaster to re-level the wall once the tiles are off.

Q – My old worktop is 40mm laminate and my new one is 19mm quartz – how can l fill the gap between the bottom of the tiles and the new worktop?

A – The best method is to raise all of your base units by means of the adjustable legs. This means dismantling the kitchen somewhat but it really is the best way. Other options are to replace the tiles or to lay some colour faced panels under the worktop lifting it by 18mm. You would need to have all of the coloured edge facing into the kitchen as it will be visible.  If you raise the units by adjusting the legs check the plinth and any side panels fitted as you may have to renew them.

Q – Can l do my own electrical work in the kitchen or do l have to get a electrician.

A– I am always hesitant at answering electrical questions as regulations (and understandings of them) can change at any time. Currently though, you can do you own electrical work but you will have to get your local council to test, approve and certificate the work once you have completed it. A cost quoted recently for the council to inspect it was £170. You may be able to find a Part P qualified electrician that could do the work for as competitive a price. Be aware that if you sell your house you will need to supply certificate to any electrical work that falls under the Part P umbrella since January 2005.

Q– How do you manage to carry worktops on your own?

A– Carefully! They are extremely heavy and probably over any recommended weight for one person to lift of their own. However, if you do need to lift and carry one on your own you need to use balance as an aid. Lift the worktop with one hand either side of the centre of the worktop so that is balanced when raised. Obviously carry it as short a distance as possible, usually from the floor to the workbench. A much better method is to cut the worktop to length on the floor making it smaller to carry. Place some wood (4″ x2″ if you have any) on the floor and lay the worktop in it – mark the worktop slightly longer than you need it and cut with a jigsaw making sure the jigsaw blade wont hit the floor. I  recommend that you never try to carry any length over 3 metres on your own, only based on my own experience!

Q– In the book you advise laying the floor after the kitchen is fitted. How and why do you do that?

A – I only advise laying the floor afterwards if you are happy for the flooring not to cover the whole area underneath the cupboards. Once the units are fitted you can quite easily lay the floor just beyond the line of the front legs of the base units. This means that once the plinth is fitted it is not  noticeable that the flooring doesn’t cover the whole floor. It can save a good amount of money too! To lay flooring once base units are fitted simply wind up the front legs, lay the flooring underneath then wind the legs back down once the floor is dry if needed. The other reason to lay the floor afterwards is that you don’t have to worry about accidental damage to it while fitting the kitchen

Q – Where can I find a copy of Part P regulations?

A – By Clicking Here

– Does gas have to be fitted by a gas registered person?

A– I would always recommend that any gas work required is carried out by a registered fitter and that you get a receipt to prove the work at any future date. However, unless l am proved wrong – it is not against any regulation for you to do the work in your own home in your own kitchen. You cannot pay anyone else unqualified to do so and you can’t do gas work for anybody else but it seems a quirk in the regulations allows you to do it yourself.
Having said that – it is really not worth the risk and you will find you will sleep easier if you know it has been done by someone qualified & experienced.

Q – Can l do any electrics in my kitchen?

A You can do the following which are not notifiable under Part P regulations;

Replace the sockets/light switches etc with new ones
Replace the boxes that the switches are fitted in to
Replace an electric oven as long as it is like for like (check power rating)
Replace ceiling lights
Replace damaged cable between sockets
Fit low voltage under cabinet lights if plugged into a 13A socket

You can’t;
Fit any new sockets, extend the ring main or extend the lighting circuit etc.
If in doubt check the regulations at the link above.

Q -How do l remove the plinths at the bottom of the base units

A Most plinths are just held to the legs by clips so getting some type of lever behind the plinth should remove them. When you want to put it back on just position the clips over the legs and push it on. Check first though – some kitchen fitters also put screws through the bottom of the cupboard and into the top of the plinth, remove them if you see them.

Q – Why is there no mention of using a circular saw in your book?

A – Only because in my opinion they are a very dangerous tool to use without experience. The book is designed for those new to kitchen fitting so l don’t presume everyone can use a circular saw. I have seen many bad accidents resulting from using them and there is no job in the kitchen that can’t be done with either a jig saw, handsaw or router.

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