Is my kitchen suitable for a benchtop swap?
There are a few things that you will need to consider before you start planning for your benchtop swap. As all kitchens are unique, a proper inspection of the space will help determine whether your space is suitable. Here are some of the more common considerations:
Understand the current construction of your kitchen; how is your existing benchtop fixed?
The most suitable type of benchtop for a benchtop swap is an independent laminate or timber top that is screwed from the underside of cabinet support rails into the benchtop. It should not be glued or be a part of the kitchen cabinetry structure. Any benchtop with the substrate screwed from the top cannot be replaced easily. All stone or acrylic benchtops are always glued down. A simple way to see if this applies to you is to look underneath your existing benchtop for a screw head. If you can’t see the screw head then this means your benchtop has been glued to your cabinetry which will make it very difficult to remove.
What is the thickness of your existing benchtop?
Replacing your benchtop with the same thickness top will make life a lot easier when it comes time to installing the new benchtop. If the new benchtop is thicker than the old then you would need to notch out the back section of the benchtop which runs along the wall to ensure it fits neatly under the splashback or tiles. The same thickness or smaller top should slide into place easily but you need to make sure the gap isn’t too big so as to not be able to seal it with silicone. Kaboodle benchtops range from 20mm thick laminates to 50mm thick bamboo so there will be a suitable option for most kitchens. Check out our product pages to find a top that’s suitable for you.
Is your kitchen level?
Older houses may have moved over time causing your benchtop to warp or become uneven, which could make it difficult to fit the new benchtop. It’s easy to check whether your kitchen has warped by running a spirit level over all of the benchtops.
How will it affect your splashback?
You will need to consider if you would like to keep your old splashback or whether you will update this as well. If you are wanting to keep your splashback then you will need to evaluate your tiles and how tightly they are laid on top of the benchtop. Thin rows can be at risk of popping out if due care is not taken as can excessive force when trying to remove the top later on.
Next step, measuring and ordering
Once you’ve decided to go ahead, you can move onto selecting colours. Remember to make sure the colour you have selected is the right thickness to replace your existing top.
When measuring, remember to:
- Measure from wall to wall and depth of the existing tops the whole way around the kitchen.
- Consider the thickness of any existing splashback in your measurements – i.e. make sure you allow for this and not measure only in between tiles.
- Check to make sure your walls are straight and if you feel that the walls may be out consider ordering oversized pieces that you can plane down when it comes time to installation.
- If your walls aren’t perfectly squared (which many older properties won’t be) then the below diagram gives you a clever way to measure your existing benchtop to replace.
Finally, tips on installation
When it comes time to change over your benchtop, each case will vary so it is important to take it slowly. Here are a few things to remember:
- Use a licensed trades person for the disconnection and reconnection of any services such as gas and electricity.
- Check the new benchtop before removing the old one to make sure your measurements are correct.
- Cut any silicone from under the tiles thoroughly.
- Remove the old top slowly. It is better to remove the top in smaller pieces to make sure all screws are dislodged and to avoid any other damage.
- Consider cutting across the back of the top, approximately 50mm parallel with the splashback. This way you will have a smaller piece to manage when it comes time to remove from under the tiles. Make sure to set your saw so that it doesn’t cut your cabinets underneath.
- Try and remove the benchtop straight and don’t pull up on it to avoid putting pressure on tiles.
- Keep your measurements for your sink and cooktop. An easy way to do this is to keep benchtop pieces or trace over your sink cut out onto a piece of cardboard to create a template.
- Refer to the installation instructions that will come with the benchtop and remember to use biscuits, glue and joiners when installing the new top.
- Work slowly and plane the back of benchtops as required.
- Remember to purchase coloured silicone to finish off the job. We recommend using Monarch Mini.
Things to remember
- Try to match your existing benchtop thickness, this will make the whole process a lot smoother.
- Consider the thickness of your existing tiles or splashback.
- If you have an existing tiled splashback, make sure you cut the silicone along the tiles before removing your benchtop.
- Never attempt electrical and plumbing work yourself. This should always be undertaken by a licenced tradesperson.
Want more articles? Join mykaboodle now and get access to our project management tool full of the latest tips, tricks and how-to videos.