How To's - How to Integrate a New Microwave (Into Cabinetry)

How to Integrate a New Microwave (Into Cabinetry)

Moving the microwave off the counter is a great way to open up a kitchen. Unless you’re doing a full kitchen remodel, however, integrating a new microwave into currently existing cabinetry can involve a little construction. Sometimes, it can be done with minimal effort.


In this article, we’ll take a look at the options for where you can integrate a new microwave, the advantages and disadvantages of each spot and finally, if you need to do construction to set your microwave in place over a range, a simple “how to” guide for doing so.

Where to Put a New Microwave


When deciding where to put your new microwave, it’s important to prioritize function over aesthetics. For example, it might look great over the stove, but if you often have two cooks or the height puts it out of reach, then it’s not a good location. Here are options to consider.


Over the Range


Let’s start here. A microwave positioned over the range looks sharp. It consolidates the cooking area. These are definite positives and a reason it’s been so popular.


It does have some drawbacks, too. As noted, the height may make it difficult for some people to reach, especially if it’s at a safe distance above the range. If you have an extra wide range, it might not look as good once in place. And when someone is cooking, it may be inaccessible.


Under the Counter


This position for a new microwave can work when there is limited wall space and surface area. It’s also easier to access and can blend in with the cabinetry. It also offers a way to have the microwave out of sight.


The easier accessibility, however, is also a drawback. This may not be the best placement for families with young children, or for anyone who has difficulty bending to reach a lower surface.


As Part of the Cabinetry


You might also call this “Above the Counter.” In this setting, the microwave fits right between the upper cabinets. This position can meet the need of small kitchens, or those with limited countertop space, without putting it out of reach (or within reach of those little hands that shouldn’t touch it).


The big challenge and drawback to this position is getting it in place and looking good. You will have to do a little construction. It’s also essential to make sure there’s enough space around it for ventilation.

How to Integrate a Microwave Into Cabinetry

Putting a microwave above the range, between cabinets or under a countertop requires construction. You don’t need a lot of tools, but you do want to make sure you have everything you need before you get started.


The tools you will need include:


  • Screwdriver, or power driver
  • Small, handheld circular or plunge saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Protective glasses


Now, microwaves generally come in three sizes: 19”, 24” and 30”. Whichever size you choose, make sure it will not only fit the space but have enough space for ventilation. Also, check the depth to make sure it will fit properly and not jut out into the room if you have narrow cabinets. Check the manufacturer’s recommended spacing prior to purchasing. You might find that the 24” is the one you need to go with but can be made to look good with a trim kit. Plan well and the construction will go much more smoothly.


Once you’ve got your tools and materials, here’s generally what you’ll need to do.


To Install Over a Range


Step 1. Remove cabinet doors, as needed. If a cabinet needs to be removed, use your saw to cut carefully along the edge of the cabinet on either side.


Step 2. Drill a hole for the electrical outlet. If you need to have an electrical outlet installed, call an electrician to ensure it meets local codes.


Step 3. Install the bracket that will support the microwave.


Step 4. With help, set the microwave in place on the bracket. Screw the holding bars in place, or secure per the manufacturer’s instructions. Plug in and add trim to finish.


Depending on your specific space requirements, you may need to do some finishing work on the cabinet, including putting in a shelf above the microwave. Sand any exposed surfaces smooth to give the space a nice, finished look.


To Install in Between Cabinetry


Step 1. Remove cabinet doors. Ideally, the microwave will rest on a pre-existing, fixed shelf.


Step 2. If needed, cut out the bottom of the cabinet where the microwave will fit. If you will be moving the cabinet bottom up, raise it at least 1 ½ inches above the top of the microwave so there is adequate ventilation.


Step 3. Cut a hole for the electrical outlet. Plug in.


Step 4. Secure as needed, per the manufacturer’s instructions. Add trim.


Step 5. Cut cabinet doors to fit the new cabinet above the microwave. For this, you would need a circular saw. Sand the bottom of the doors smooth and stain or paint with a similar color. You may need to move the position of the lower hinges on the cabinet door if you cut that section off.  Once the doors are finished and the stain or paint dried, rehang the doors.

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