If you’re renovating on a budget, doing most of the work yourself can save you serious money. However, there are a few important things – like plumbing and electrical work – that need to be done by a qualified professional. There are also several other activities that are best left to experienced tradespeople – like most carpentry.
Generally speaking, installing kitchen cabinets is included in this last category. While it’s possible to do the work yourself, it can be quite an intricate process and one that we don’t recommend. This is because it can also be hard to get right and costly if you get it wrong.
Here we look at what it takes to install kitchen cabinets correctly and the risks associated with doing it yourself.
The skills you need to install kitchen cabinets
The exact process for installing your new kitchen cabinets will depend on the type of cabinets you’ve chosen. For example, many DIYers choose flatpack cabinetry, which needs to be constructed before being installed. Other cabinetry comes pre-assembled (either completely or partially) but still needs to be fixed together and bolted in place. Buying fully assembled cabinets is easier as it will save a lot of time and is often around the same price as flatpack cabinets.
Regardless of the type of cabinets you choose, correctly installing them will take a certain set of skills. Before deciding to do it yourself, you should consider these and make sure you understand what you are taking on. Specifically, you need to make sure you are:
- Able to follow the installation instructions: If you’ve put a flatpack together before, you understand how complicated the instructions can be. As you need to follow each step carefully, it’s important you comprehend and can do what they say. Even with fully assembled kitchens you still need to follow instructions to get it right.
- Confident using the necessary tools: At a minimum, you will need to be comfortable using a power drill and a range of hand tools including a jigsaw, electric plane, spirit level, mitre box to name a few. Also, while most cabinetry will come pre-cut, it’s best to be good with a saw (electric and hand).
- Patient and persistent enough to get things perfect: There is only a small margin for error with most cabinetry. If things are even a few millimetres off, it can have serious repercussions.
- Physically strong enough: Installing cabinets is a labour-intensive job. Individual units can be upwards of 20 kg, and they need to be moved and carried. Upper cabinets are particularly taxing as they need to be lifted and held up until they are fixed in place.
The dangers of DIY cabinet installation
If you’re planning to do the work yourself, you’ve probably accepted that the renovation won’t be perfect. However, when it comes to kitchen cabinets, near enough will not be good enough. Small issues can quickly become major problems – ones that are expensive to fix.
For instance, we recently had a customer who, despite having no previous carpentry experience, chose to install their own cabinetry. While they followed the instructions carefully and got most things right, some of their alignment was out. They didn’t realise this until they tried to fit the benchtop, which cracked as a result.
While this is an extreme example, it’s not an uncommon one. Many DIYers experience issues and end up needing to pay for repairs or replacement materials. This often ends up costing much more than if they’d just paid for professional installation.
Keeping your installation cost down
If you are thinking about installing your kitchen cabinets yourself to save money, there are other alternatives you should consider. For example, fully assembled flat pack kitchens are usually still cost-effective but are significantly easier to install. As such, it should take an experienced tradesperson no time to fit them, helping keep the cost down.
At Kitchen Shack, we specialise in providing fully assembled cabinets that are both sturdy and budget-friendly. We also have a list of recommended installers who service all parts of Melbourne and are familiar with our products. So, if you’re unsure about installing your kitchen cabinets yourself, call Kitchen Shack to discuss your options and arrange a free in-store design.