Here’s where I show you how I fitted my utility kitchen bases units, from one novice to another. Please note that I’m not a professional, but often ask my Dad for advice on best methods.
Recently I shared some tips with my YouTube subscribers on how to build kitchen carcasses, or kitchen base units if you will, followed by my plumbing installation. What you can see here is the Dakota range from Wickes. They happened to be one of the cheapest with better reviews. Now I know some people think buying off the peg units is cheating, but I really disagree.
Why? Because I still consider myself as a learner and wanted to practice on something cheap. Also, it depends on your budget, or your client’s budget. For example, my Dad uses carcasses like these all the time for his rented properties. If he were to build something from scratch, then he’d have to charge more for his time and money, eliminating people on a budget. And they’re not forced to treat it with care.
So once I had my units all built (excluding the doors on – we’ll cover that in another video as I’ve found they get in the way), I hd to make sure they were level and fixed to the wall. And here’s how I did it; broken down in to my step my step guide below. Or you can scroll down for my video in case you’re confused by anything.
INSTALLING YOUR NEWLY BUILT KITCHEN BASE UNITS
If you own your units already, you’ll probably already have an idea of where you want them to go. So it was now my job to make sure they fit flat against the wall. This was something I was quite worried about as I had a windowsill in the way too.
DEALING WITH OBSTRUCTIONS
Thankfully, all along the back of my units, there is approximately a 6.5cm back behind where the back cover goes. I believe it’s the same with most, but allows for pipes, plugs and such. Just don’t go mad cutting the lot off as you still need to use this area to mount to the wall.
Tools that are great cutting notches out are:
- panel handsaw
- holesaw with a combi drill
- jigsaw if you’ve drilled holes for the blade
- multicutter for more awkward areas if it’s already in situ
SEALING THE WOOD TO PREVENT WATER DAMAGE
Sometimes plumbing fails. So you need to be prepared just in case. And kitchen units are made up of chipboard, which expands when wet.
So to prevent having a problem (and let’s face it, my plumbing is very close to the notches), I rubbed over the cuts with waterproof glue, while wearing disposable gloves, then put the units back immediately and left to dry in its own time. In some other areas, I used this Geocel sealant as I already had it.
START WITH YOUR CORNER UNIT
One thing I learnt was to get started with your corner unit. And once you’ve got that level, you can take it in either direction. However, what I didn’t know was, in the instructions, this one from Wickes needed to be about 125mm off the wall.
This couldn’t have worked out any better for us as the corner is where our plumbing is. However, if you’re fitting in a very tight spot and haven’t allowed for this, it could catch you out.
MARKING YOUR GAP (AND WHAT IF THE WALL ISN’T SQUARE)
To mark where I needed to start my corner unit, I used a pencil and tape measure, marking at regular intervals. Then used something with a straight edge (ie, my spirit level), to draw a straight line. Don’t worry if your wall isn’t perfectly straight; I just went with the majority of my marks, then lined my unit up with it.
GETTING YOUR UNITS LEVEL
As mentioned before, make sure you start on your corner unit. This one will dictate the height of the rest, so make sure you take the time to get this right and the rest will be much quicker.
Each leg is adjustable by these screw-style feet. To raise of lower it, twist is right or left while the spirit level is on top. And keep repeating until the bubble is dead centre on the spirit level.
USING YOUR SPIRIT LEVEL IN 6 DIFRECTIONS
However, you need to make sure you get it level at 6 different angles. And here they are.
- Front, lengthways
- Back, lengthways
- Front to back on the right
- Front to back on the left
- Diagonally from opposite corner
- Diagonally from opposite corner
You’ll also need to ensure you height is fine with other parts of your kitchen. In my case, I had some white appliances, so I tried to get the legs as short as possible, where my worktop wouldn’t be too high above them and look silly.
Other factors are flooring, for example, in some parts I have no carpet, but I knew these wouldn’t be visible when the kitchen base units were in place.
FIXING TO THE WALL
Once I had my unit right where I wanted, I had to fix to the wall. However, it’s a good idea to mark with a pencil of where the worktop is on the wall. That way, you know exactly where to put it back. On this wall (above), I just used a drill bit and screws as I was fixing to chipboard where an old door used to be.
FIXING TO BRICK WALL OR PLASTERBOARD
Something I can’t stand is trying to find the best plasterboard fitting. So many don’t work and I wanted something I could trust while fixed to a wall and rattling all over the place while my washing machine is at full speed. So, I used my Dad’s method and that was to use a long masonry drill bit and drill straight through to the brick wall behind it.
Then tap in a rawlplug using a long handheld screwdriver or similar and a rubber mallet and screw the L bracket to the wall. Once this was done, I screw the L bracket to the unit. The screw or rawlplug can’t be loose for it to anchor properly. And if you mess up, try fixing the bracket slightly lower down as no one will see it.
SKIRTING BOARD OBSTRUCTIONS
In my case, I find my skirting board got in the way of my next kitchen base units. It protruded too much and stopped me from getting my unit level with the next one. There’s two ways you could get around this.
You could scribe around the skirting board using a compass and cut a chunk from the back bottom of the kitchen base units. Or my favourite method is to cut the skirting board because I knew this unit will be permanently here. Also, I’d only fitted the skirting so far as we’d always planned for a utility.
So, I held a small spirit level against the side of my unit with the bottom end resting over the skirting and drew a straight line which would be my cutting line. Then, using a multi cutter (below) while wearing an goggles and ear defenders, I cut through my pencil line. The funny thing was, the skirting just fell off anyway, so I’ll be cutting it off up to my unit and fixing back another day.
FIXING THE UNITS TOGETHER
Once I’d got my 2nd adjacent unit level and had fixed to the wall, I wanted to make sure my kitchen base units were robust as possible and the worktop is flat when placed on top. So I clamped the two units together using a couple of G clamps (although I don’t rate the piddly one at the bottom), ensuring the fronts of the edge are flat and nothing was protruding.
I then pre drilled a hole top and bottom and screwed using screws shorter than the depth of them together. *You don’t want a screw poking out the other end.
I also repeated this at the back, top and bottom, behind where the back panel will be once I put it in place.
So that’s one side done, I then needed to work on the other wall, although I just needed to fix a drawer unit in place with corner post, then lead on to my white appliances.
FITTING YOUR CORNER POST
The corner post (which came with my unit), really finishes it off. It also give my adjencent units room to open the drawers or doors. But to get started, you’ll need to fit these cabinet blocks which have screw holes either side.
One side fixes to the unit, then the other side has screw holes to fix to the post. Here, I’m marking where I need to fit them (100mm below the top), then screwing them in to place with the provided self tapping screws. On occasions however, I would use a smaller drill bit than the screw for easy fixing.
Generally, pre drilling holes prevents wood splitting, so I like to get in the habit of this.
MY CORNER POST WASN’T SYMMETRICAL
As long as you follow your base unit instructions, you should be ok. I must admit, it all looked overwhelming initially before reading them. And I assumed the post was the exact same size either side. I was wrong.
It only goes on way, so to make life easier, I measured each side and wrote on it which side was which.
Because the corner post fits to two units, you’ll also need to add connector blocks (or cabinet blocks) to the other side, which then also screw to your next unit.
I found it much easier laying the corner post on to a flat surface (above), then screwing on the blocks. That way, they should in line on the very edge.
Then, make sure your unit is level, using a long spirit level to sit across both units and fix to the wall, ensuring the gap between the units is the same as the corner post’s width (I’m sure it’s 55mm in my case, but do check the instructions). And once fixed to the wall, attach the connector blocks from inside your first corner unit as shown below.
So now I need to catch you up to speed with how I fixed on the doors, drawers, handles, kickboards, end panel and worktops. However, I have found it’s best to probably do the doors last as they’ve got in the way as I haven’t adjusted them completely yet.
But for me, I like to focus on one job at a time while I do things on my own. And if you have any tips or tricks for anyone doing research, then feel free to drop a comment below.
KITCHEN BASE UNITS BACK PANELS
For any units I don’t need to access behind, such as my drawer units, I made sure the back panels were secure with screws provided. However, I’ve generally with others that they’re in my way while I work on the plumbing, etc. So will be adding these back later, but not screwing in to place. By the time the worktop is on, I think they’ll be trapped nicely.
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Please note this post is in no way associated with Wickes. I picked their Dakota units as they were affordable for a simple utility kitchen. However, in my opinion, the doors look too cheap for a main kitchen as they’re a matt finish.