DIY Kitchens NZ


diy kitchen man with tools, holding power drill

Do It Yourself Kitchens

There is a great choice of flat pack DIY kitchens at the big sheds now, which the reasonably competent handy-person can use to make a very respectable kitchen. This is proving to be an increasingly popular way of going about a kitchen renovation for those with the practical skills and the time.  However there are some important points to bear in mind before you rush out and buy your cupboards.

Before You Start Reality Check

  • Have you thoroughly researched your DIY kitchen options?
  • Do you have the time for the project and what is your time worth?
  • Do you have the tools to complete your DIY kitchen?
  • Do you have the tool and installation skills?
  • Do you enjoy physical labour and like getting your hands dirty?
  • Do have the  to complete a kitchen remodel?
  • Does your family have the patience with you?


A cheap-looking, poorly installed kitchen will not only look unsatisfactory but will seriously devalue your home because prospective purchasers will think it needs replacing.  When buyers think that there’s work to do, they are more likely to move on because what most people want is a house they can simply move into and use.

Check carefully that the DIY kitchen cabinets and especially the doors, you choose are of a quality that suits your home. Ensure that you do only those things that you are fully competent to do. Get professional help with things that the eye falls on and must look perfect. Make sure things that should be done professionally like plumbing, electrical fittings, benchtops and finishing details, are. Don’t waste your money and spoil that hard work with a shoddy finish that will put people off.

Quality problems at the cheap end of kit-set kitchens include the use of cheap particle board (known in the trade as Weetbix); thin edge-banding using the thinnest pvc or even paper; cheap-looking benchtop blanks that are roughly cut to size and not jointed properly. Water and ‘Weetbix’ board just don’t mix. It swells and turns to mush when wet, ruining the appearance of your kitchen and requiring costly repairs.  Fortunately high quality DIY kitchen systems are starting to appear, kitchens that don’t have that cheap shed-kitchen look. Look for moisture resistant carcases, 2mm edge banding, high quality doors and panels, and custom made benchtops.

Building Codes

Ensure that your new kitchen conforms to the building regulations and requirements for your area.  An illegal installation such as a DIY installed gas appliance or amateur electrical modifications could be dangerous to you and your family.  Not having a gas compliance certificate could well jeopardize the eventual sale of your home.


Bear in mind that everybody has different ideas about how a kitchen should be laid out and what should be in it. Colour is another area of personal choice. If you ever plan to sell your home you need to be mindful of ensuring that it has broad appeal rather than be too quirky.  Those funky colours might look great in your eyes but to a potential buyer will act like a bird scarer.

Remember that your choice of Purple Haze might be someone else’s idea of a nightmare colour. Also remember that today’s fashionable, must have colours (battleship grey or Spanish White, say) are tomorrows dated has-beens. Choose carefully with maximum and enduring appeal in mind.  Ask for advice from the Resene colour specialist.

Remember too that you shouldn’t sacrifice quality for a budget kitchen. Don’t turn your DIY kitchen project into a BIT (Bodge-it-yourself) disaster.

New Cabinets Or Use The Old?

If your existing kitchen is well designed and user-friendly but just looks tired and dated, you might prefer to give it a facelift rather than replace the whole thing. Usually the benchtop needs to go because this is what takes the most wear and tear but if the cupboards are in good shape you might be able to replace the doors. However, since end and face panels usually match the doors and have to be replaced with them, the units will have to be taken apart and the job can become quite a mission and also rather expensive.

You might have seen home improvement shows like Selling Houses where a reasonably tidy kitchen can be made to look smart with a complete paint spray-over.  This can include painting the benchtop and the whole effect can look great.  This might be OK if your selling immediately but do remember that the benchtop surface will not be so durable after its lick of paint.  If you can get away with painting the cabinets and panels you’ll surely save money but it’s a much better idea to replace the benchtop.  Or you could have it resurfaced with stone veneer, which looks great and is very durable.

Whatever you do, don’t try repainting kitchen cabinets by hand.  This just will not work in this day and age as prospective buyers will not tolerate it.  Better to leave the kitchen untouched.

DIY Splashbacks

Traditionally the splashback would consist of tiles.  In recent years toughened glass has been more popular, painted in the colour of your choice.  DIY splashbacks have been available in standard colours in the big shed outlets.  Now though the chickens are coming home to roost because the colours have dated in the same way as bathroom suites and cabinet doors.  Glass splashbacks are being taken down and replaced with tiles.  The wheel of fashion has turned.

Painting the kitchen

With the kitchen replaced or refurbished the rest of the room will need freshening up with a repaint.  This is a job that most of us a capable of but again, the quality of finish is paramount.  So invest in filler, sandpaper and masking tape and take your time with the surface preparation.  It really is worth the time to mask off door and window frames so that you can achieve a tidy finish with no over-painting.

Before starting your DIY painting project you should be prepared for every aspect of the job you are planning. Wear comfortable clothes that allow for ease of movement and that won’t suffer for the inevitable splashes of paint. Flexible shoes with good grip are important for climbing on and off the ladder you’ll have to use to reach those high places. Make sure your ladder is stable and that you are comfortable using it.

When working on a DIY painting project on the interior of your home, always make sure to use drop sheets liberally to thoroughly cover all furniture and carpets in order to avoid the paint splashes that will occur no matter how careful you are. Wipe your hands whenever you contaminate them with paint to avoid smearing it on surfaces. Remember the good trick for protecting surfaces you don’t want to paint and to achieve neat borders to colour changes, is to use that masking tape.

Where you are decorating the interior of your home make sure that each room is well ventilated with windows open with as much air circulating as possible.  Paint fumes can be noxious to people with sensitivities and allergies. Be mindful of any noticeable reactions (such as headache or nausea) as you paint.  Read the safety instructions on the can.

Oh, and don’t fall off your ladder!

Categories: Kitchen Renovation

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