How to get a new kitchen fitted
If you have decided to install a new kitchen in your property, and have not done so before, you may want to know a sensible order of proceedings. After all, there are cupboard units, worktops, a sink with a tap, appliances, electrical sockets, walls, a floor, a ceiling and lighting to think about! So where should you start? Here’s our advice on the best order to take things:
Step One: Removal of old kitchen
Before you can install your new kitchen, it is essential that the old one is out of the way! While you might want to salvage some appliances for later, you probably won’t want to keep any of the old-style cupboard units when you have committed to replacing them with ones in a new style. So at this stage of proceedings, your kitchen fitters will need to use power tools to decouple the old units from the walls and from each other, and then clear them out of your home for off-site disposal.
Step Two: Prepare Your Kitchen Walls
Once the units are out of the way, you will probably be looking at a messy expanse of wall and floor. If damp has got into any of the walls, then you may need to hire specialist damp-proofers to treat them with a damp-proof course before you take things any further. If this is needed, the walls will also then need replastering afterwards.
Even if no damp-proof course is required, your walls may be in a messy state. Perhaps they have a horrible old wall covering on them that is not proper tiling, such as wallpaper or plasticky fabric, in which case you will want these removed before proceeding further. They will then need plaster-skimming to be ready for painting again.
Painting your walls is the next step. At this stage, it may be sensible just to undercoat them, because by the time that your kitchen has been fully installed, the paint may need a bit of touching up to remove stains accumulated during the rest of the kitchen installation process, as well as to cover over new plaster needed following the installation of any necessary additional electrical wiring and socketry (see below). Besides, you might not know what final paint colour will look best before you have had the kitchen units fitted.
Step Three: Choose a Design for your New Kitchen
This is the time to get creative and plan the kitchen of your dreams, and here JMI Bathrooms and Kitchens are happy to partner with you to help you visualise the look of your new kitchen in three dimensions!
Part 1: Kitchen Cupboards
You will firstly want to choose a look for your kitchen cupboards. Do you prefer ones with modern, easy-to-grip metal handles? These are known as shaker kitchens. Or do you like a more old-fashioned, rustic look with wooden cupboard doors and door knobs? Perhaps you prefer an-ultra modern, sleek and stylish high-gloss handleless look?
Think about how each school of design would blend in with the look of the rest of your home from the perspective of a future buyer if ever you might have to sell up. But first and foremost, think about how it fits with the personal aesthetic tastes of those who will be living with you (if applicable), as well as your own. Your choice of new kitchen will be with you for many years, and probably as long as you own your house, so take your time to choose wisely and try to get it right first time!
Within each school of design, there is a wide variety of colour choices available. Rustic kitchens can be made with different types of wood finished in different colours of varnish. Laminate-based kitchen cupboard doors can be finished in almost any colour.
Do consider how much natural light will get into your kitchen when you are using it; and if light is limited because for instance your kitchen is on the north side of your house or gets a significant amount of sunlight only at certain times of day, you may find it preferable to use lighter colours that are more reflective of light, or even pure white.
Once you have decided on your preferred kitchen cupboard design, you will also need to map out where the kitchen cupboards in your kitchen should go. If your boiler is in your kitchen, its position will be an important factor to take into account, unless you are going to replace it at the same time as you refit your kitchen, in which case you may wish to consider if there is a more convenient and space-saving place for it.
Generally, speaking, kitchen units fall into two categories: base units, which stand suspended on adjustable foot supports just above the floor and provide the base of support for your worktops; and wall units, which are fitted at close to head-height directly into your walls. In areas of the kitchen where windows are found, you will only be able to accommodate base units, while in other areas, you can also fit wall units. Both base units and wall units are available in a wide variety of width configurations, with dedicated corner units also available for most designs. Wall units are always much shallower in depth than base units because your wall needs to be strong enough to hold their weight and because you need to be able to use the worktops beneath. Wall units are therefore ideal for storing smaller objects up to and including the diameter of dinner plates, whereas base units may be used for anything from bulky food packages to pots, pans and oven dishes and trays.
Part 2: Kitchen Worktops
Nowadays there is a wide variety of choices of kitchen worktops available. While laminates remain the default choice for those on a tight budget, if you can afford and would prefer more luxurious solid stone fittings, there is a wide range of custom quartzes and granites to choose from.
If you do decide to go with a natural stone look, you will find that quartzes tend by their nature to be lighter in colour, ranging from near-white to mid-grey, whereas granites are darker, ranging from fairly dark grey to near-black. So depending again on your aesthetic tastes and on how much light you feel you need on your kitchen worktops, you may find quartz or granite to be the preferable choice for you. In terms of texture, quartzes tend to have a very smooth, easy-wipe finish, whereas granites can have a natural roughness to them and will need careful aftercare.
Whatever kitchen worktop you decide upon, don’t forget the need to treat it with care. You should never put hot saucepans and oven dishes directly on your worktops: always use a protective mat to avoid damaging them permanently; and if you plan to have tenants or lodgers, advise them accordingly.
Part 3: Kitchen Sink and Taps
You will find that there is nowadays a choice of materials for sinks. While stainless steel is still the preferred option in most cases, if you have decided on a quartz or granite worktop you may want to pair it with a stone sink in a compatible colour. By their nature, stone sinks are hard-wearing and robust, and less prone to denting than stainless steel, though they can stain more easily and will need careful cleaning.
Whatever material you choose for your kitchen sink, you can also choose between having a single tub and what is called a ‘one-and-a-half’ sink configuration, whereby the main tub is accompanied by a narrower depression that comes in handy for washing your hands or rinsing your washing-up without running cold water over the hot water in your main tub. We always recommend the one-and-a-half sink unless you have a very small kitchen and are seriously pressed for space.
Taps come in a variety of designs at different price points, so take your time to go through the options and choose the one that fits your needs best, balancing quality against cost. While mixer taps in one design or another are standard on new kitchens these days, it can be a practical advantage to have one that rises to a good height above your sink so that you can comfortably rinse large pots, pans and baking trays beneath it without their accidentally striking either the tap or the sink in the process.
Part 4: Kitchen Appliances
When it comes to choosing your kitchen appliances, you will find that there are two main schools of design: integrated and freestanding.
Many modern kitchens feature sleek, flush-fitting integrated ovens and hobs, as well as dishwashers, refrigerators, and even freezers and washing machines.
Integrated units look fantastic and tend to be equipped to a very high specification.
The one disadvantage of integrated units is that they usually carry a small price premium over the freestanding equivalents.
If you have freestanding appliances left over from your old kitchen that you feel are still serviceable and in good order, e.g. a freestanding cooker or a freestanding dishwasher, washing machine or fridge-freezer, you may wish to keep these for your new kitchen in order to save on cost.
You might alternatively simply have an aesthetic preference for freestanding appliances, in which case there are plenty of brand new ones to choose from.
Perhaps for instance you are a fan of free-standing range cookers such as AGA stoves, for the ultimate in old-fashioned rustic design luxury and multi-oven-cooking convenience?
Whatever your kitchen appliance preferences and tastes, JMI Bathroom and Kitchen centre is happy to help you choose and configure your dream kitchen accordingly!
Part 5: Kitchen Splashbacks or Wall Tiles
There is an area of vertical space between kitchen worktops and the wall units above that usually looks and keeps best with an additional covering over the top of the paint. The traditional solution for this space is tiling, and this is still an option many prefer. If tiling is for you, you can choose from square tiles and brick-shaped ‘metro’ tiles in all the colours of the rainbow.
But in 21st century kitchen design, there is a stylish and colourful alternative: the splashback, which is a made-to-measure fitted layer of toughened glass on your walls. Splashbacks can be coloured however you like, so they are an excellent opportunity to offset pale or white kitchen cupboards with a warm and vibrant statement of your personality.
Step Four: Kitchen Ceiling and Lighting
For many years, it seemed that there was only one practical option for kitchen lighting: a single overhead fluorescent tube lamp right under the ceiling. Fluorescent tube lamps were a relatively energy-efficient source of bright kitchen lighting in the days when the only alternative was the incandescent light bulb; but now that energy-efficient lighting is the norm rather than the exception, the traditional tube lamp can now all too often look like a cumbersome, ugly giant that dates your kitchen squarely to the previous century. Many people also find that fluorescent tube lamps give them headaches from the effects of the flicker, so for reasons of health and not just aesthetics, you may want to give yours the boot when you have your new kitchen fitted.
There are attractive, highly energy-efficient alternatives in the form of multiple LED lamps flush-fitted in your ceiling. To install these without the need for unsightly trailing cables across your kitchen ceiling, an electrician will need access from above, which often means through your bathroom floor, so it will help if you don’t yet have solid ceramic or porcelain tiling in your bathroom above.
You will probably find that six 5-watt LED lamps are enough to keep an average-sized kitchen very brightly lit from above. 30 watts is a lot less than the output of a traditional tube lamp! But you can also add additional, lower-powered LED lamps under your kitchen wall units to light the areas at the backs of your kitchen worktops better when otherwise they would be relatively obscured.
The best time to install your kitchen ceiling lighting is after you’ve settled on the kitchen design but before you install the kitchen units.
In connection with installing it, you may find that you want to improve your kitchen ceiling too.
Perhaps it is made of artex (a rough-textured style of ceiling that was popular in the late 20th century but which typically contains low levels of asbestos and is therefore now a liability for any homeowner) and you are afraid of asbestos release into the atmosphere when it is drilled through to fit your new lighting? In that case, you can have it overboarded with plasterboard by any competent plasterer to help contain it and to provide stronger support for your new light fittings. Alternatively, you may choose to have it completely removed and replaced, but this will be more expensive.
Even if you do not have an artex ceiling, in order to ensure that your new kitchen looks at its best, you may want to have your ceiling plaster-skimmed and repainted. The final painting can be done after your new ceiling lights are fitted but before their protective covers are removed.
Step Five: Kitchen Electrics and Gas Installation
At the same time as your new kitchen ceiling lighting is fitted, or even if you do not need to change your ceiling lighting, you should think about whether or not the electrical sockets in your kitchen are sufficient in number and ready for your new appliances.
If you are going to install an electric cooker, you will need a dedicated electric cooker point that can cope with the electrical demands that your particular model of cooker will impose. Any competent electrician will be able to advise on what is needed.
Many older kitchens installed in the 1980s and earlier will be found to have insufficient numbers of power points in the walls by 21st century standards; and if you are refitting a kitchen from the 1970s, 1960s or 1950s, it is a virtual certainty that you will need to have the kitchen electrics completely renewed.
It is recommended to install between six and eight double sockets in an average-sized twenty-first century kitchen, to allow convenient access for all your appliances.
You will find that there is a wide choice of electric socket finishes available today. While standard white plastic sockets are still available, there has been a trend towards the installation of chrome-finished electric sockets in kitchens; and you might find that these look better in a modern kitchen. These come in a variety of styles, with white or black central elements, and either brushed (rougher) or polished (more reflective) chrome. If you are having your kitchen electrics renewed, have a think about which electrical socket finish would look best in the context of the rest of your kitchen design before you give your electrician the go-ahead to begin installing your new kitchen electrics.
At 2018 prices, you should try to budget around £1500 for a thorough new installation of kitchen electrics including lighting and sockets by a qualified electrician.
Once your new electrics are in place, you may also need to pay a plasterer around £100 to patch up the holes left where wiring has been chased along the walls, a tricky job demanding professional competence for a smooth, good-looking finish.
If you are going to be using gas appliances in your kitchen, then you will also need to ensure that there is a safe and adequate mains gas supply to the point at which your gas hob and oven(s) will be installed. This is a job for a Gas-Safe engineer.
Step 6: Kitchen Floor Selection and Installation
Before you have your new kitchen installed, you should think about whether or not you want to change your flooring.
If you have an unappealing old floor covering with asbestos vinyl floor tiles underneath, you will almost certainly want to replace it completely in the interests of health.
Asbestos floor tiles were commonly installed in British kitchens between the 1940s and the early 1980s, and are therefore still found in many kitchens in the UK today. To remove them, you have three choices: pay for an asbestos removal specialist (the safest option, but can be very expensive), hire a flooring specialist or odd-job man who is aware of and accepts the risks, or do it yourself.
If you decide to do it yourself (which we do not recommend), it is essential for your own protection to wear a breathing filtration mask at all times and to keep windows and doors open both during the work for at least 24 hours after you finish the job. It is further advised to damp down the entire floor covering with water before you begin in order to reduce the risk of asbestos particles becoming airborne.
Asbestos floor tiles can be very tough though they are also friable. They will need chipping away at with a chisel bit by bit, so wear good, thick gloves to protect your hands from injury caused by the chisel kicking back against your palms too. Once you have removed all the tiles, you will also want to ensure that all scraps have been swept up and disposed of outside your home.
Once your old floor covering has been removed, you can fit new tiles, laminate or even hardwood on your kitchen floor. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are an increasingly popular choice for new kitchens; and if you choose glazed ones in pale colours, they can help to keep your kitchen bright by reflecting more light. You will also find that there is a choice of colours for tile grouting. Many tiles prefer grey or black grouting on kitchen floors because it disguises stains better; but white grouting can also look very elegant in the context of pale tiles, provided that you are prepared to keep it clean!
While floor tiles need not cover parts of your kitchen floor that will be hidden underneath your kitchen base units, they should extend under the areas where all freestanding appliances (including cookers, washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers) will be installed, and under the visible bottom panels of your kitchen base units.
A final consideration to bear in mind in connection with the installation of new kitchen flooring is skirting boards. It does not look good to leave a bare patch or hole between flooring and walls in kitchens, so if you have had to rip out your old kitchen including any skirting, you may need to have new skirting boards put down in all areas that will not be completely covered by your new kitchen base units. But the best time to install these may be after your kitchen base units have been installed.
Step 7: Main Kitchen Installation
Once your new floor is in place, you should be ready to have your new kitchen cupboards installed. This is a job for professional fitters. Using the designs that have been prepared for your kitchen, and the components that have been manufactured and delivered by your kitchen supplier, your fitters will typically work over the best part of a week to install your kitchen cupboards worktops, sink and tap as well as all relevant plumbing to and from the sink, washing machine and dishwasher (where included).
LED lighting belonging under wall-mounted cupboards will also be fitted by your kitchen fitters, provided that the right wiring has been left for it by your electrician.
In some cases, there may be a separate team involved just with the worktops, who will need to be brought in once the kitchen cupboards are in place. Any integrated appliances will also normally be installed by your kitchen fitters, but the installation of some electric cookers will be a job for your electrician.
Step 8: Final Electrical or Gas Installation of Kitchen
Once your kitchen fitters have finished their work on the kitchen cupboards and worktops, then if you have a new electric cooker, your electrician will probably need to return to wire it in to the dedicated new socket for it, and to test that it is working properly and safely.
Alternatively, if you have a new gas cooker, a Gas-Safe engineer will be needed to ensure that it is properly and safely connected to your mains gas supply.
Step 9: Installation of Kitchen Splashbacks or Wall Tiles
At this stage, the only remaining work needed is likely to be cosmetic. If they have not already been fitted by your kitchen fitters, your splashbacks or wall tiles can be installed now.
Step 10: Final Painting
With everything else in place, all that remains to be done is for your final coat of paint to be applied. It is strongly recommended that your new kitchen taps, sink and worktops are covered over with protective materials such as clear plastic film or blankets before this is done.
Specialised kitchen paints that are resistant to washing are often a good choice for kitchens as compared with conventional wall paints, because quite often even untiled areas of your kitchen wall will attract incidental stains from splashed tomato juice, oil and other food ingredients, and will need to be scrubbed, which tends to erode conventional paints.