How Long Does It Take To Fit A Kitchen? A Complete Guide

The prospect of having a new kitchen fitted can be both exciting and a little daunting at the same time. The idea of not having a kitchen for a period of time can be a worrying one, especially if you are unsure of how long exactly that is going to be.
This leads me to answer a very popular question; how long does it take to fit a kitchen?

On average it takes between 1 – 4 weeks to fit a kitchen. However, this really depends on how much work needs to be done.

If you’re replacing your existing kitchen with the same layout and position of appliances, with no need for a new floor or decorating, then it can be relatively quick and closer to 1 week.

On the opposite end, if your kitchen is part of a new extension, with all new electrics, plumbing, flooring and decorating, then it can take several weeks.

Kitchen Fitting Stages

I have outlined 11 stages of fitting a new kitchen and the order in which they will be completed. I’ve also included a guide to the time it takes to finish each stage.

This guide is for a kitchen refurbishment project. If you’re having an extension you will have to take the building work into consideration as well.

Ask your architect or builder to give a guide on the time it will take for the build. Then add up the relevant steps below to give you a guide for the time it will take for the kitchen-fitting element of your project.

1. Pack Up Your Old Kitchen

Cardboard packing boxes

Before work begins on fitting your new kitchen, it will be your task to pack up the old kitchen. You should empty every cupboard and move or cover up any furniture in the room. Things are going to get very messy, very quickly.

Plastic storage boxes are fantastic to help protect and keep all your kitchen items organized. You’ll likely still need to access some of your small appliances and crockery during the kitchen fit, especially the kettle and mugs for tea and coffee. Kitchen fitting is thirsty work.

Make sure everything is emptied out and anything that could get damaged is packed or moved out of the way.

Time: 1 day

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Temporary Kitchen Setup During a Renovation – Top Tips.

2. Kitchen Rip Out

You’ve reached the point of no return.

The kitchen rip out is by far the messiest, noisiest and most disruptive stage of the kitchen fit. Don’t be surprised if you get a little sinking feeling in your stomach as you see your old kitchen ripped apart, leaving a very rough empty shell in its place.

During the rip out stage, all your old cabinets, worktop, sink and tap and any appliances will be removed. Care should be taken when removing any appliances if they are to be reused or sold.

Equal care should be taken if you want to repurpose or try and sell any old kitchen cabinets. If they are still in good enough working order, then using them for a utility or workshop in the garage can be a great way to save money and bring new life to your old cabinets.

If you don’t need them, selling old cabinets is a great way to offset some of the costs of your new kitchen.

As well as removing the old cabinets, if you plan to have a new floor the old floor may have to be dug up or stripped back. On top of this, any old or broken plaster on the walls and ceiling will need to be taken down and removed.

The entire room should be completely stripped right back to its shell, ready to build back up again to accommodate your new kitchen.

Time: 1-2 days (depending on size and how difficult it is to take up the old flooring)

3. First Fix  – Electrics / Plumbing / Gas

The first fix is when the different tradespeople working on your kitchen fit need to get their cables or pipes in place while the room is still empty and they have access to everything. It’s getting all the bits that will eventually be completely hidden in place.

If you want to have some more sockets in your new kitchen, now is the time to tell your electrician. If you are moving any appliances or adding anything new such as an induction hob, then your electrician will have to prepare for this as well.

The same goes for if you want to have new lights in the ceiling.

For your plumber, it will be moving, extending or capping off your water supply and waste pipes to accommodate the new kitchen. If your new kitchen layout is different, you may need to move the water for the sink to another location or add/move waste pipes and feeds for your dishwasher and washing machine.

The same applies to any gas pipes you may need if you’re having a gas hob or gas range cooker. These all need to be in place while the room is empty, so they are ready to be connected once the cabinets and appliances are installed.

Time: 1-3 days (depending on the extent of additional works)

Top tip: During a kitchen renovation project it is quite common to have a new fuse box fitted. Electrical regulations are updated most years and it may shine a light on anything that is now out of date.
This can add a sizable chunk to your electrical costs, so if unsure, check with your builder/electrician before, so it’s not a nasty shock during the fit.

4. Plastering

Plastering wall
Plastering wall

After everything has been ripped out and the tradespeople have been in to complete their first fix, you will need to have the room plastered.

The amount of plastering needed will depend on the size of the project, how much damage has been caused and what is involved in creating the new kitchen.

It can range from just plastering a few patches that have been damaged during the rip out and first fix stages, to completely boarding and plastering the whole room floor to ceiling.

It is often the case that you need to have the room skimmed. This is when a thin layer of plaster is applied to the walls to create a fresh, flat and smooth finish on which to install the new kitchen.

However much plastering is needed for your kitchen project, it will need time to dry out before cabinets can be installed – and definitely before you can paint it.

The time it takes to dry will depend on how thick the plaster is, how much has been plastered and how wet/dry the room is. To help speed up the drying time, try to keep windows and doors open as much as possible to allow the moisture inside the plaster to dry out.

Time: 1-3 days + drying time (depending on the extent of plasterwork needed)

5. Flooring

When it comes to flooring a new kitchen, there are two ideas of when this should be done: before the kitchen cabinets are installed or after.

Flooring Before Kitchen Cabinets

I recommend installing the floor before the kitchen cabinets, whether this is tiles, wood or a form of laminate flooring. Having a clean, empty room not only makes laying the floor easier but also creates a complete level surface on which to install the cabinets.

This means there are no areas left unfinished – particularly important if you are having any freestanding appliances, such as an American fridge freezer or washing machine, in your kitchen. It can make the kitchen look unfinished if the flooring doesn’t go all the way under these appliances.

This also makes the cabinet fitting process much easier, as there is one level surface to work on. The fitter can set the height and not have to worry about guessing how much extra to lift the cabinets to accommodate the new floor level (if the floor is fitted after).

It also means that all the end panels and plinth (kickboard) can be cut and fitted straight away, as the finished floor and level are in place. If not, the cabinet fitter would need to wait and come back to install any end panels and plinth once the floor has been fitted. This can cost you extra time and money.

Flooring After Kitchen Cabinets

The other time to lay the floor is after the kitchen cabinets have been installed. This works slightly differently.

After the cabinets have been installed (minus end panels and plinth), the flooring is then put down to just under the cabinets. The new flooring does not extend all the way back to the walls, or all the way under an island, just up to the edges of the cabinets.

Once finished, the end panels are then cut to size and installed, as are the plinths. If the cabinets have not been set at the correct height to accommodate the new floor thickness, then the plinths may have to be cut down, or there may be a gap between the top of the plinth and the bottom of the cabinet.

The reason that some companies prefer to work this way is to save on the cost of materials needed to floor a space. You won’t need to buy as many tiles if you don’t tile under all of the cabinets, especially as you’ll never see these tiles.

I personally believe the benefits of flooring before installing the cabinets outweigh this.

However, circumstances will differ between projects and may influence which route is taken. Check with your builder or flooring company to understand their requirements.

Time: 1-3 days (depending on size and material used)

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6. Fitting The Kitchen Cabinets

Woodwork - Kitchen fitting
Kitchen fitting

Finally, it feels like there is some progress being made.

Everything up to this point has been making a mess or installing bits you don’t really see to get the room ready, but it’s still just an empty room.

When the cabinets start to get installed it can be very exciting as you start to see your new kitchen take shape. All that time picking out the perfect style and colour is paying off as your kitchen comes to life.

Cabinet fitters work in different ways, but most will usually start with the base units. They will place them in the correct layout and make sure everything fits, and then start to affix them to the walls. Tall units are also done at the beginning, especially if they butt up to the base units.

Once the base and tall units are in place, they will start to install the wall units. It’s usually done this way around so that they can place the wall units at the same height as the top of the tall units, as well as make sure there is the correct distance between the top of the base and bottom of the wall units (including worktop thickness).

Filler, the finished material that goes between the last cabinet and the wall to fill the gap, will be cut to shape and put in place. Cutting filler to shape is known as scribing.

Finally, the holes for door handles will be drilled and the handles attached, along with the plinth and any cornice (decorative top edging on wall/tall cabinets) and lighting pelmet (decorative bottom edging on wall cabinets).

Time: 3-8 days (depending on how many units and how bespoke the installation is)

7. Fitting The Kitchen Worktops

After a few days of seeing your cabinets come together, the next exciting moment is usually when the worktops are installed.

There are two ways that this can happen, with one taking much longer than the other. Which one works for your kitchen will depend on the type of material chosen for your worktop.

Laminate And Timber Kitchen Worktops

The first and quickest way worktop is fitted is when you have either a laminate or timber worktop. These materials don’t require very specialist machinery to measure and fabricate (which takes time), so can be done much quicker and on-site by your kitchen fitter.

If your fitter is installing these, they will measure out and cut the lengths accordingly (lengths are often over-sized and come in set standard sizes).  They will also measure out and cut any holes in the worktop for the hob, sink, pop up sockets or waste disposal air switches.

Time: 1-2 days

Granite / Quartz / Acrylic Kitchen Worktops

The other type of worktop installation is when you have materials such as granite, quartz, acrylic or porcelain composite. These surfaces require much more specialist equipment and services to measure, fabricate and install them.

The process typically works as follows: once your cabinets are installed, a specialist will take a template of the area needed for your worktops. This is most often done using a laser plotter to ensure it is as accurate as possible.

After the template has been taken, they will use it to fabricate your chosen worktop surface to your kitchen’s exact measurement and specification. This fabrication stage can take between 1-2 weeks, depending on the material and the company’s capacity.

Once your worktop has been fabricated, the worktop team will return to install it onto your cabinets. This installation process usually takes a couple of hours, depending on how much worktop you have and how intricate it is.

Time: 7-14 days

Top Tip: It’s very important for you to be present during the worktop template as you can decide exactly how you want your worktop to look.
You can decide things such as which side of the sink you want draining grooves, how far the worktop overhangs the front of your cabinets or how high you want your up-stand to be around the wall of your kitchen.
At this time, any little details can be discussed and customized for you. There are pretty standard answers to most, and your templater can usually advise, but ultimately it’s your decision.

8. Second Fix – Electrics / Plumbing / Gas

Electrician connecting socket
Electrician connecting socket

The second fix (or final fix) is when your tradespeople return to finish off and connect up all of the bits they prepared for in the first fix stage.

With your electrics, this will be all of the sockets above and below your worktop, as often sockets will be required inside certain cabinets. It could also include connecting up cabinet lighting as well as any new lights in the ceiling.

Most importantly, it will be connecting up your appliances so everything is up and running.

For plumbing, it will be connecting up the sink and tap and making sure any wet appliances such as your dishwasher and washing machine are all connected up and ready to go.

If you are having a gas hob, this will be the final connection and testing to make sure everything is safe. They should also provide you with a gas safety certificate at this stage (if in the UK).

The end of the second fix usually means that you have a working kitchen back. It may not be completely finished, but you’ll have the ability to cook and wash up in a kitchen again.

Time: 1-2 days

9. Tiling / Fitting A Splashback

Once the kitchen cabinets are all installed, the worktop is on and your appliances are connected, the attention turns to more cosmetic tasks.

Tiling the wall in between the base and wall cabinets or installing a glass splashback (funnily enough known as a backsplash in the US) are popular choices. They are aesthetically appealing and can provide a little more protection than painting alone. Check out my Kitchen Backsplash Ideas Pinterest board for some inspiration.

You can only have these done once the worktop has been installed. This means there is a finished level to tile from or from which to measure for the glass.

Tiling the wall will usually be much quicker than having glass everywhere. Like with certain worktops, the glass will need to be measured, made off-site and then installed at a later date. Tiling a wall can be done on site.

Time for tiling: 1-2 days

Time for a glass splashback: 7-10 days (can be longer for more specialist finishes)

10. Decorating

Painting and decorating
Painting and decorating

Decorating means adding those final finishing touches that complete the whole project.

This usually includes painting the room, but could also include things like new skirting or architrave as well as caulking any little gaps between cabinets and walls.

Caulking is when you run a bead of decorating sealant to fill in any small gaps to create a sealed and much nicer looking finish. With kitchens, this is usually needed where the filler meets a wall. If you’re having new skirting, it’s usually run along the top to fill that little gap between the skirting and wall.

Time: 1 – 3 days (depending on size and amount of extra decorating)

Top Tip: If you know you are going to be painting the whole area, it can be a great idea to get an undercoat done while the room is empty before the cabinets are installed. Just make sure that any new plastering is fully dried out before painting.

11. Snags

Even when everything is finished and the last drop of paint has dried, there will almost always be some snags left to finish.

Sometimes, it’s things no one has noticed until you are moving everything back in or starting to use the kitchen, such as doors dropping out of line. It could be that a door was damaged during installation and you’ve been waiting for a new one to arrive before it can be replaced.

Whatever the reason, you can almost always guarantee there will be some snags outstanding at the end of a project.

Try not to let this bother you too much. It can be really disheartening to think after all this time and disturbance that the project isn’t just finished. Trust me, you aren’t alone in this – it happens to every kitchen project.

Keep this in mind at the beginning and throughout the project. This will help prevent annoyance and disappointment when you hit the inevitable snags.

Time: 1-2 days (hopefully even less, depends what the problems are)

How Long Does It Take To Fit A Kitchen? – Other Considerations

Some of the stages listed above can occur at the same time and will overlap, meaning that your total project time will be slightly less. For instance, while you are waiting for your stone worktop to be made, your electrician could come back to start their second fix stage. Similarly, you could start decorating while you are waiting for your glass splashback to be made and fitted.

There may also be gaps between stages, depending on how well you or your designer has project managed the kitchen. Availability, capacity and other factors (such as holidays, weather, etc.) can also impact your timeline.

The time taken at each stage is meant as a guide. Start by picking the ones that apply to your project. Then pick the appropriate time value within guide times (ie. 1-3 days), depending on how much work you are having done at that stage.

The table below is designed to help you list and work out not only the stages needed for your project but also the approximate time it will take to complete everything.

This way you will have a good idea of how long it will take to fit your kitchen. Don’t forget that this is the working time, not total time (which will include any gaps or overlaps you may have).

How long does it take to fit a kitchen - time guide
How long does it take to fit a kitchen? – Time guide

Final Thoughts…

If you know your project is going to take some time, then you may want to consider setting up a temporary kitchen during the process.

It can be difficult enough dealing with the noise and mess a new kitchen brings, let alone not being able to cook or wash up as you would normally.

Setting up some form of temporary kitchen space can be a huge help and save money on getting takeaways every night – unless that’s what you’re looking forward to!

A simple picnic table or makeshift worktop area with a microwave and/or a camping stove can make all the difference. Putting your dish draining rack next to your bathroom sink creates a new temporary washing up zone. You can get creative, but however you do it having a temporary kitchen during a long renovation can be a big help.

If you’d like more advice on this, have a read of my post: Temporary Kitchen Setup During a Renovation – Top Tips.

Knowing what stages your kitchen project will undergo and being aware of the timeframe as a whole can be a great help to mentally prepare for what can be a disruptive experience.

If you are just starting a new kitchen renovation and are wondering where to begin, I’d recommend my post How to Start Planning a New Kitchen.

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