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Kitchen Remodeling Basics (page 1 of 2)

Before planning your kitchen renovation, make sure you're familiar with the basic components.

Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

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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

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.

Freestanding Units

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)

Kitchen Cabinets

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.

Base Cabinet (Image 1)
Most manufacturers produce these in standard widths and heights. Their depth is usually 1'-8" to 2', although some are shallower to accommodate utilities.

Wall Cabinet (Image 2)
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 (Image 3)
Attaches a countertop to base cabinets.

Angle Brace (Image 4)
Often used to secure cabinets to a wall surface.

Cover Cap (Image 5)
Decorative cap for screws and other fasteners.

Toekick Vent (Image 6)
Provides airflow to appliances.

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Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009