Kitchen Remodeling Basics
One of the main focal points of a house, a kitchen requires careful planning if it is to be easy to use and attractive to look at. Most modern kitchens feature custom cabinets, and custom kitchens are the main focus of this section. Remember that installing a kitchen may involve structural, plumbing, and electrical work.
Custom kitchens are designed to make the best use of space. Attached cabinets combine ample storage and ease of use with a contemporary finish. Standard stock cabinets are made with different styles of doors and drawer fronts, and a wide variety of sinks, countertops, and appliances will match any decor.
As well as custom cabinets, matching freestanding kitchen units are available. The units are made to look more like separate items of furniture than part of a connected run. A few freestanding pieces can be combined with some custom cabinets — a good option if you like their appearance and need extra storage space.
Precut countertops come in lengths of 6'-6", 10' and 13', and in thicknesses varying from 1" to 2". Choose one wider than you need because you will probably cut some off during installation. Countertops may be made of solid wood or stone, veneered chipboard, and stone-effect materials. Solid wood and veneered counters, and some stone-effect types, are sold as standard sizes and can be installed as is. Countertops made of solid stone, such as marble or granite, are generally supplied and installed by manufacturers, who make a template of your requirement, fabricate the countertop at their factory, and then deliver and install it. Countertops are also a frequent object for reclamation. A countertop can be tiled. When tiling a countertop, use moisture-resistant plywood or MDF as a base. On walls behind the countertop it is usual to install backsplashes of tiles, stainless steel, or glass.
Wood (Image 1), Solid surfacing (Image 2), Plastic laminate (Image 3)
Custom kitchens are made up of wall cabinets and base cabinets. Cabinets are either frameless (European) or framed (with face frames). Most custom kitchens can be viewed already assembled in a showroom. The price usually depends on the material and the thickness of the carcass members and panels. As a rule, the more substantial a cabinet is, the more expensive it will be.
Most manufacturers produce these in standard widths and heights. Their depth is usually 1'-8" to 2', although some are shallower to accommodate utilities.
These are available in standard widths that match base cabinets, but they are typically only up to 2'-4" high and 1' deep.
Most manufacturers will supply a pack of accessories for each cabinet, some or all of which will be required, depending on how the cabinet is to be used. A selection of the most common hardware is shown here.
Drawer Runner (Image 1)
May be preinstalled on drawers and cabinets when supplied.
Cam and Cam Stud (Image 2)
Two-part fasteners for assembly of some flatpack cabinets.
Connection Screw (Image 3)
Two-part screw that joins cabinets.
Wooden Dowel (Image 4)
Peg used to strengthen joints.
Kitchens use easy-install hinges and usually predrilled holes.
Joining Plate (Image 5)
Metal plate used to strengthen joints between cabinets or sections of countertop.
More Hardware Options
Damper (Image 1)
Small pad that protects surfaces when doors or drawers are closed.
Wall Mounting Plate (Image 2)
Shaped bracket for hanging cabinets on walls.
Countertop Bracket (attaches a countertop to base cabinets) and Angle Brace (often used to secure cabinets to a wall surface, Image 3).
Cover Cap (Image 4)
Decorative cap for screws and other fasteners.
Toekick Vent (Image 5)
Provides airflow to appliances.
Sinks and Appliances
Freestanding kitchen appliances — refrigerators, dishwashers, and stoves — are normally just under 1'-8" or 2' wide and around 2'-8" to 2'-11" tall and so should fit into standard kitchens without problems. Built-in appliances are hidden behind doors that match the base cabinets, with cooktops and sinks mounted into the counter top. Many manufacturers also produce both extra-large appliances for large families, and slimline models for small kitchens. New innovations are always coming onto the market, so take time to select appliances that suit your needs best.
Exhaust Fan (Image 1)
Housed in cabinets or the more decorative design of a hood and chimney, exhaust fans may either filter then recirculate air, or vent it out through an exterior wall via a duct that you will need to install.
Sink (Image 2)
Usually, sinks are cut into a countertop. Most, like the one shown here, have a deep side for a garbage disposal.
Stove (Image 3)
These come in gas (seen here) and electric versions. Gas stoves are generally sunk into a countertop. Electric ones can have sealed plates or ceramic tops.
Oven (Image 4)
An oven may be housed in a special cabinet that comes as part of a custom kitchen. Attachment kits will be supplied. Freestanding stoves slide between cabinets.
The carcass structure of a cabinet is ultimately hidden by door fronts, drawer fronts, and a number of other decorative items. If you are happy with your kitchen's current layout but want a new look, changing the finish can be an inexpensive and very effective option. Finishing touches are supplied in styles to suit many different tastes.
Handles and Knobs (Image 1)
For use on door and drawer fronts. Threaded bolts and screws secure them in position.
Door Front (Image 2)
These are manufactured to fit all standard cabinet sizes.
Drawer Front (Image 3)
Made to fit standard base cabinet drawers. Some act as "dummy" drawer fronts.
Toekicks are installed between the floor and the underside of base cabinets. They may have a vinyl strip on the bottom edge to stop moisture from penetrating the edge when the floor is cleaned. A molding covers up the bottom edge of wall cabinets and scribe molding runs along the top edge of wall cabinets.
Toekick (Image 1) Scribe molding (Image 2)
Copyright 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Text copyright 2009 Julian Cassell and Peter Parham
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