Installing a dishwasher in existing cabinets where there was none

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The process of installing a dishwasher in existing cabinets where there was none before. 

Sticky pots and pans with their splattered lids wait patiently for you after dinner. And you shudder at the sink filled with more dirty plates and utensils than you knew you owned. 

All you want to do is dump everything all in a hot, soapy machine so you can wake up in the morning to clean, sparkly dishes.

Like, maybe, a shiny, new dishwasher, planted right next to your sink, waiting for your command.

Today, I have some very exciting news… are you ready for it? 

We finally added a dishwasher to our existing cabinets!

kitchen after adding dishwasher to existing cabinets

That’s right, we are done with piles and piles of messy dishes in the sink. A dishwasher was one thing I had to have when we bought our house and now I have finally it!

But before I walk you through how it was added to the existing cabinets, have a look at a ‘before’ picture. 

Here is what our kitchen looked like on the day we got the keys to the house:

kitchen before adding dishwasher


We had a short list of things we wanted to add or change when we installed the dishwasher. 

First, we wanted to update the plumbing under the sink and add a garbage disposal. And since we were adding the garbage disposal and dishwasher, we had to add power to the area. Finally, we wanted to add a new faucet because our old one leaked.

I am very lucky to have a dad who did all of this for a living at one point in his life. And last year, when my parents asked what we wanted for Christmas, I said that I wanted my dad to add my dishwasher into my kitchen. 

Now, I told them this in October, hoping it would be done by Christmas. But, if you know my dad, you know that he is always busy helping someone with some project after his full-time job. 

The other day, he finally called and told me he was coming to add the dishwasher (there may have been a little push on my side, like getting a bid from a plumber to install the dishwasher and then my dad finding out!). 

Now that he was coming over, I had to get things ready for the install.


I first removed all the cabinet drawers and cleaned everything out from under the sink. I also made sure all the supplies were in the kitchen (garbage disposal, faucet, and plumbing parts). 

old kitchen cabinets without dishwasher

Once my dad arrived, things got underway quickly. 

The first thing was fixing the cabinet to fit the dishwasher. We planned on saving all the old wood and reusing it to make the new cabinet. My dad measured the area where the dishwasher needed to fit. 

A dishwasher is normally 24″ wide and 34″ tall but it’s always best to measure your dishwasher.

Then, out came the Sawzall, hammer, nails, and screws to make an opening 24” wide to fit the dishwasher. 

You will be cutting the cabinet all the way to the floor. You need to measure the distance from the floor to the countertop to make sure you have the 34” to fit the dishwasher.

creating a dishwasher cabinet for existing cabinets

SIDE NOTE: You could have a small trim piece just under your countertop to give you the 34”. 

Here is how we reworked the small cabinet next to the dishwasher:

building a dishwasher cabinet


After fixing the cabinet, my dad took out all the old plumbing. I wish I have taken a picture of the one pipe that had lots of build up inside.

I told my dad I wanted two P-traps under the sink and he agreed. This will help with water flow. I also wanted to change the sink strainer to one that actually worked. 

Here is the old piping under the sink; you can read about cleaning copper pipes here.

old kitchen sink plumbing before adding dishwasher

And now it was time for the new faucet. 

We wanted something simple that had two handles, high arch, stainless finish, and a sprayer. We did not have very many choices but we decided on the Delta Lewiston. The faucet was only $129 before tax. After using it for one week, I am in love with it (our old one was horrible).

delta Lewiston faucet

Sorry, there are no pictures of adding the new pipes or electrical because I had to run some errands. And when I got back, it was all done! 

But look at the mess we were in for the day:

messy kitchen while adding new dishwasher
new double sink plumbing

There is still some work to do to finish this project off, like building a cabinet door and rebuilding a drawer. 

And, I am going to add vinyl tile under the sink to replace the old vinyl. 

But so far, the final results are amazing! I feel like I have a new and improved kitchen. 

I have been hand washing dishes for the past 3 years and it’s great having an extra 20 minutes in the morning not washing dishes. Thanks again, DAD!!!

added dishwasher to existing cabinets
delta faucet
kitchen after adding dishwasher to existing cabinets

Anyone else adding a dishwasher or need/want to add a dishwasher? Or doing a kitchen remodel?

See our we updated our kitchen cabinets without replacing them by adding trim.

update kitchen cabinets without replacing them
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  1. It looks great! I bet you are super excited for the dishwasher, I can’t believe you haven’t had one. I think I would go crazy without my dishwasher. You’re definitely super mom. Now to use those extra 20 minutes :)

    1. I am really excited about having a dishwasher, just wait and see what I have planned for the rest of the kitchen! And I know you could go without one if you had to…

  2. We are about to embark on the adventure of purchasing my grandparents’ home (of 70+ years!) and will have a few, um, “upgrades” to do in terms of adding modern appliances like a dishwasher and disposal. The kitchen was actually renovated in the late 90’s, so we at least have newer (standard-size) cabinets and such to work with, but with my grandparents being old-school, they didn’t feel there was a need for a dishwasher or disposal (or anything other than laminate floors and floral wallpaper, haha), so I’m glad I’ve stumbled upon this blog! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Erin, Thanks for stopping by my blog! Buying a home is a big adventure and I am so so excited for you. I always love to see before and after pictures so please send me some: Good Luck!!

  3. Cindy Tyson says:

    I am so glad a came across your blog! I want to add a dishwasher to my 1970’s kitchen and need some tips and tricks. You have given me some things to think about. Unfortunately, I don’t have a dad or other family member to do it for me. I will be hiring someone and it helps to know the things I can do beforehand to make it easier for the installer (and cheaper for me). Thanks!

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