There's a good reason I didn't install the new microwave yet. The sucker wouldn't fit.
Why an Over-The-Range Microwave?
As I mentioned in my last post when I'd installed this section of cabinets and the slide-in style range, we're looking to optimize space and open up counter space. Our new kitchen design calls for a built in microwave design; it's going to be up, and out of the way.
You may recall from our before photos, we've been living with a small countertop microwave we intended to temporarily use for "a year or so" (a decade ago) and a cruddy, old toaster oven.
I don't know how we've managed for all this time with such small countertop appliances and such little countertop. The weird, wooden countertop section spanned the space where a diminutive refrigerator once lived.
That space is completely gone and replaced with brand spanking new IKEA Sektion cabinetry. We picked up a big GE convection microwave, in a package deal with the range at last year's Black Friday sales. Now we can trash the toaster oven too!
Hold off on Installing the Microwave!
In a fit of actual instructions reading, I realized that the IKEA 15" deep, upper cabinets are deeper than standard ones. The new microwave would be engulfed in the cabinet face and the door would be blocked from opening. That doesn't seem like a valuable attribute in a microwave installation; thank God I didn't drill the mounting holes and lug the beast up into place, just to discover my error later. I suspect most people would prefer that an appliance can actually be used after it's installed.
So I needed to buy a "bump out bracket", a piece of painted black steel designed to to mount and push the microwave forward three inches as well as to extract another $120 bucks out of the wallets of people that just spent a bunch of cash on an expensive appliance.
I really thought about building something out of wood. I'm not a fan of blowing a big chunk of change on something that's never going to see the light of day once it's installed. Of course, I'm also not a big fan of installing things wrong and facing future problems. Crud.
I ordered the damn thing.
How To Install an Over The Range Microwave
The bracket is an easy install. It goes on much the same way as the bracket that comes with the oven; it's just thicker.
I measured for the center of the space, to be sure I located the unit properly. I really didn't need to because the width was exactly enough to slip the microwave in, with no wiggle room the sides.
The heavy microwave needs at least one stud to hang. Luckily, I found one somewhat near the center. With our home's miserly 24" stud spacing, it would be the only one I could hit. I also drew a locating line, using the original bracket that came with the appliance, to be sure I got the bump-out bracket in place.
So here's the famous piece of $20 painted, bent sheet-metal. It really frosts me that you have to spend so much, for so little, after shelling out nearly $500 on a microwave.
Once again, I used the sweet, 2 1/2" Spax, torx-drive screws to hit the studs and the E-Z Ancor drywall toggle anchors to do the mounting where there were no studs.
Keeping everything nice and level, I ran the screws in with my beloved impact driver.
This microwave comes with a top cabinet template to precisely locate the holes you need to drill. It gets placed against the wall normally, but to use the bump-out kit, you have to make an adjustment and slide it out a few inches. I predrilled the center of each location with my cordless before removing the template.
The mounting screw holes required me to step up to a meaty, 1/2" bit. I drilled halfway through from below, switched up, and drilled the rest of the way down from above to avoid chip-out when the bit burst through. I did the same thing when I used a hole saw to drill a larger hole to thread the power cord through.
It was easier to do all this without the doors attached to the microwave cabinet.
I'd decided not to vent the unit up through the attic and expose the kitchen to the temperature horror of a Phoenix attic in the summertime. I followed the instructions to rotate the blower motor and move a coverplate to recirculate the exhaust fan through a charcoal filter, and back into the room.
The Sad and Ugly Truth
I'm going to level with you. Although I clearly look like a 22 year-old action hero in these photos, it's not a trick of camera flash in my hair. It's the undeniable onslaught of grey hair on a dude in his mid-40's with a dad-bod a little bit shy of Star Lord's physique. Just a little shy.
"I was only a kid when I left Earth, and I had no idea what the universe had in store for me."
- Star Lord (Peter Quill)
Why does that matter? Because heaving a big-ass, unwieldy microwave up into place like I had done in my early 30's wasn't exactly the same perky little DIY task that I remember. Although the bracket takes the weight after hooking the lower-rear edge of the unit, getting it locked into place is an awkward, strength-sapping, sweat-gushing, curse-word-filled fight that I truly regret doing alone.
Pulling the power cord through the hole, reaching up to find the hole to thread the first mounting bolt, and, if you are a dedicated blogger like your's truly, trying to fumble with a camera remote for at least one decent #@&%☠ !!! photo, is not for the faint of heart.
It took me three tries and it wore me right the hell out.
No. I didn't shoot video of the event. If I had, I probably wouldn't show it.
Once I had most of the weight supported by a first mounting bolt, threaded in by hand, I was able to scamper* up the ladder to add the others. I cranked all of them down by hand with a phillips screwdriver.
*Honestly, I didn't "scamper". I lugged myself up like a drunken walrus.
Although my photo documentary looks seamless, like a half-hour DIY television show, I'm man-enough to admit that there was a recharging period of sitting exhausted on the couch, drinking a frosty beverage. I watched some idiot TV, before going back to mount the cabinet doors.
I did keep going with some drawer building after this one, but that's a tale for another day. For now the microwave is mounted and it's working.
Did you just discover this post? It's actually #16 in my kitchen remodel saga. Check out the rest, from the very beginning: