Dishwasher Enclosure

It’s that time again.  Another Gilbert construction project!  This time, our dishwasher of nearly 10 years had to be replaced.

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It started out life as a mobile unit – the kind on casters that you could wheel up to your sink, connect to the faucet with a hose, and then wheel it back into a corner when it was done.  We purchased a conversion kit with it that would allow us to turn it into an in-place unit, which is what you see above.

For 10 years, it faithfully scrubbed our dishes, and provided us an extra 2+ feet of counter space.  But, alas, in the last six months it’s started to not rinse all of the soap off the dishes, and made a few interesting noises along the way.  We decided it was time.

Unfortunately for us, the mobile-dishwasher-that-could-be-converted has gone extinct.  No one makes the conversion kits any more as far as we could tell.  So, to get a new in-place dishwasher meant building an enclosure for it.  This past weekend, that’s exactly what we did.

Of course, the first step was to get the old dishwasher out.  It took my father-in-law and I three hours, and a trip to Lowe’s (one of three I would be making that day), to figure out how it had been attached to the floor and the adjacent cabinetry.  It also took me a non-trivial amount of time to figure out how to disconnect it from the plumbing.  I’ll save you the gory details, but needless to say I love plumbing when it involves a lopper.  Good thing we didn’t want to save those hoses. 

So, after three hours, feast your eyes on – well, nothing:

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At least now we could start building the framing for the new enclosure.  The new countertop would be supported by this framing on the "inside", and a new end panel on the "outside".

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The original plan was to put the second 1×4 all the way in the corner, but when we found where the hole had been drilled for the drain line, we shifted it forward.

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Additionally, the white board at the very front was supposed to have been a load-bearing member.  Unfortunately, I apparently can’t read numbers very well and thought that a 31" long board would magically fit a 35" gap.  Ahem.  To get around that, we attached it in the front as the show piece, and cut another piece of 1×4 to be the load-bearing member in the front.

Finally, the existing countertop had a small overhang that prevented us from putting a piece of wood flush against the cabinet, so we added the piece of oak you see going across the top as a spacer.  That allowed us to add another piece of 1×4 going across the top as the inner support for the new countertop.

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I also cut a notch in the back corner for a piece of 1×2 to fit in.

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Next, we mounted a piece of 1×2 to the floor

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We had a fairly substantial gap between the floor and the wall (which you can see here), so the floor-1×2 runs all the way to the wall.  Next, we added a vertical 1×2, sitting on top of the floor piece, and attached it to the wall.

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With the outer framing in place, I could add the 1×2 running across the back.  It is attached to the 1×2 via a metal bracket, and merely sits in the notch cut into the 1×4.  The new countertop would eventually sit on top of this piece, so we felt it didn’t need any other support.

Next we added the end cap.

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The end cap was attached to the 1x2s via L-brackets, and would become the load-bearing member on the outside.

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The front of the end cap is a 3" wide piece of fascia, which hides the 1×2 running along the floor.  To provide an easy way to attach the countertop, I added four large L-brackets, two to the 1×4 on the inside, and two to the end cap on the outside.

Now we were down to cutting the new countertop to length, and installing it.  This was honestly the part of the project I most dreaded, mostly because if I did it wrong, I’d have to scrap the entire piece of countertop and buy a replacement.

For the most part, we followed the instructions included in this video.  We started by measuring the width that we wanted to cut, and triple-checked that the line we drew on the back of the countertop was perpendicular.

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Next, we clamped down a piece of 2×4 to the back of the countertop, to use as a guide for my circular saw.  Unfortunately, the 2×4 had rounded corners, and the guide on my saw kept getting caught by it as I traveled down the countertop.  It ended up being less straight and smooth than I wanted it, but everyone agreed it would be good enough.  CJ and I agreed beforehand that the side I cut would be the "inner" side, mashed up against the existing cabinetry, so it wouldn’t show.  As long as I didn’t take a major gouge out of it, we could make it work.

We bought a "finishing" kit that we would use to laminate the end, which required us to tack on a couple of pieces of filler wood (since the countertop had lips on both the backsplash and the leading edge), and then apply the laminate using an iron.

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We did this before installing the countertop, figuring it would be easier to iron the pieces on if the countertop was unattached.

We laid the countertop on the brackets, and took a look at the level.

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Not horrible, but we would need to adjust it when we screwed it down.  I marked where the bracket screws would go into the underside of the countertop, and pre-drilled holes for each.  Before I tightened the screws down on the brackets, I added a couple of washers as spacers to the "low" side, to help level it out. 

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It worked fairly well.

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It took us until 9pm that night to get the last bits finished up, but by the end we had a solid, (and hopefully functional) enclosure for the dishwasher.

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The following Monday, the new dishwasher arrived while I was at work.  CJ asked the installer to verify that the enclosure would accommodate the new dishwasher before he did anything else.  He obliged, and CJ sent me a text:

Installer says it will fit!
You can exhale now.  🙂

Just over an hour later she sent me a follow up:

It’s running its first load of dishes.  😀

My wife gets me.  She really gets me.

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As it turns out, though, we could have shaved half an inch off the width of the enclosure – there is now a noticeable gap on the left side of the dishwasher.

A problem for another day.

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