Are cabinets are all in! As you can see neither Irene or I has been in a blogging mood this past week. We just wanted to concentrate on getting the work done so we can have a working kitchen done. I left off two Sundays ago (it’s Tuesday night as I write this) with the wall and high cabinets up. That means it was time to install the base cabinets.
There is a debate among those familiar with Ikea’s kitchen cabinets, use the ledger boards or don’t. I think most people fall in the don’t category. There are two main reasons for this. One is it can be harder to level out your cabinets using the ledger boards. If your boards are installed crooked enough you may never get them level. I’ll agree with this point, it is a little tougher to get them level with only two feet to adjust. The second complaint is the boards are fragile and not strong enough. To look at them they don’t look like much. They are just fiberboard. But that is what most ready-made furniture looks like underneath the veiner. I think on this second point most people don’t know how to handle them and end up damaging them when mounting them to the wall.
I decided to give it a go using the ledger boards. I was hoping this would save me some grief with not having to reach under the cabinets and adjust the back legs but time spent mounting them is most likely a wash. I basically followed the Ikea directions. One big piece of advise is to mark out the line for the boards as per the directions, starting at the “high point” in the floor. Then find the low point and measure to the line. Add 30″ to this number plus the thickness of your countertop. If this number is high you will want to lower the line appropriately.
Once the line for the ledger boards is drawn it’s time to think about fasteners. Instead of using normal countersunk wood screws I decided to use lag screws. I was concerned that the countersunk screws are part of why people had trouble with the fiberboard splitting or crumbling, especially if they did not pre-drill the holes. Lag screws have a hex head like the bolt on a car so they are easier to drive in, no stripping phillips slots. Because of this you don’t have to make a countersink in them, just a straight hole for the screw is needed. I also wanted to make sure my screws were strong enough to hold the cabinets & countertops. 1/4″ is the smallest lag screw I could get, but that is also bigger than any wood screw you can usually get. To minimize stress concentration on the fiberboard more I also used flat washers underneath the heads of the lag screws.
I marked where the studs were with a stud finder and had Irene hold the ledger boards in place against the lines on the wall. Then I drilled a hole where each stud was with a small taper drill bit. Exact size does not matter, this is just to mark where the holes go. Just be sure to drill through ledger and into the drywall some. Then I had Irene remove the board and drilled 3/16″ pilot holes into the drywall and studs. This hole keeps the stud from splitting. I drilled 1/4″ holes in the ledger for the screws to go through. This keeps the ledge board from splitting. Then all I had to do was line the holes up and drive the screws in. Don’t forget to make marks on your board before drilling the mark holes so you can put it back in the same orientation later. Mark the outside face as outside and put mark for left or right and up or down.
You will see the hacked up back panel for the sink base on the right. This piece isn’t in the Ikea instructions when using the Domsjo sink. But I thought it would cover up the extra big hole I made in the drywall for the drain pipe. Also we wouldn’t have to paint that part of the wall. Well, in cutting the hole for the drain and electrical outlet I hacked it up pretty good. We had to ditch it. That did it for Tuesday night.
Wednesday I fabricated a support for the countertop above the dishwasher. A support like this is needed anytime a dishwasher is installed at the end of run. Lots of Ikea fans use an oven panel available from Ikea. If the end of the counter run is exposed this is a good choice since the finish will match that of the rest of the cabinets. Since our run ends against the wall the oven panel is a waist of money, only a slim sliver of it would be visible. I made the support out of dimensional lumber. Initially I budgeted the room to use a 2×3 but reading similar accounts it seems that is overkill and a 1×3 would be good enough. Just to be sure I found the density of quartz online and calculated the weight of the piece above the dishwasher. It will only be about 45 pounds. 1×3 will have no problem with that. You can see the two pieces of wood in the left of the picture below. They are screwed to studs with #10 screws, 2 per stud. While I was doing that Irene painted the walls.