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Installing an Over-the-Range Microwave

Are you tired of the microwave taking up valuable space on the counter? I was! So we decided to install an over-the-range microwave and this was the process for us.

installing an microwave above stove

First, an over-the-range microwave requires cabinets or at least a top cabinet (for support reasons) to install. The top of the microwave attaches to the top cabinets plus it has a metal bracket that secures the bottom of the microwave to the wall.

Let me remind you of our space before and you will probably see our problem.

kitchen before adding microwave

That’s right, no cabinets. So for the first part of this process, I had to build cabinets.

Something to remember!! You should have an idea of what microwave you want. Read the install instructions now so you have a good idea of what is needed. Normal microwaves need a 30″ opening but check yours!

BUILDING THE CABINETS

We decided to add four additional cabinets to this space, one next to the stove and three above. This is the process I used to create the frame of the cabinets.

SIDE NOTE: I was trying to match the frame build to my other cabinets (original to the home)

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience, click here to read my full disclosure policy

SUPPLIES:

TOOLS:

  • Kreg Jig K5 (or another style)
  • circular saw w/rip-cut (because I don’t have a table saw)
  • drill
  • jigsaw
  • clamps
  • nail gun (18-gauge)

Find the list of tools we use.

I want you to know that I will not be sharing the measurements of this build because the cabinets are small plus they are made to match my other cabinets. But all the side cabinets are 9-1/2″ wide and I wanted to share the process I used because it worked!

I first cut all the plywood I needed to build the frame this included the sides, bottom shelf plus additional shelves, bracing for the bottom, and bracing for top & back. See images below of the finished cabinet for examples or head over to Ann White’s tutorial of building kitchen cabinets.

After I used the Jigsaw to cut a square from the side pieces. I decided to cut a 2-3/4″ x 2-3/4″ piece.

cut plywood for cabinets toe kick

cut plywood for cabinets

TIP: Cut one side then clamp the other side piece to the cut side, use this as your guide. Or cut both together at the same time! This will make the cut be exactly the same.

Next, I used my Kreg Jig to create pockets to be able to attach the boards together later.

use Kreg Jig for cabinets

SIDE NOTE: Again a great cabinet making tutorial is found on Ann White’s website!

I then sanded all the boards and started attaching the pieces together.

build cabinet bottom

build cabinet frame

TIP: A great tool to help get into hard to drill places is a 90-degree adapter.

And those are the steps I used to assemble the cabinet frames.

SIDE NOTE: The way my old cabinets where built was by building the frame, installing the frame, then added the trim to all the frames. Most cabinets now have the trim added before installing. So remember I am matching these with my other cabinets and the trim will be added after installing the cabinets.

After all the cabinets are assembled, I caulked all the inside seams and primed/painted the inside of the cabinet white plus added polycrylic (a clear finish). You can also leave the wood if you would like.

TIP: Using a paint sprayer will save you time!

SIDE NOTE: I painted the trim boards at the same time to save time later.

Once the cabinet frames were dry, I installed them to the wall.

install cabinet frames

Then I installed the trim, I used the same method I used while building my master closet system. Then there was a little prep of filling in holes, caulking, priming just those areas and painting those areas as well (plus adding Polycrylic).

add trim to cabinets

When everything had dried, I was ready to install the microwave. Remember read the instructions that come with your microwave. And I am sorry but I have no pictures of the process because this was a two-person job.

But let me explain the process.

INSTALLING AN OVER-THE-RANGE MICROWAVE

The microwave we installed had a metal plate for the bottom of the microwave. It attaches to the wall and has some lips that the microwave sits on.

SIDE NOTE: The microwave we have is the Whirlpool 1.7 cu. ft. in Stainless Steel.

You will need to drill holes in the cabinet above the microwave spot. One is for the outlet cord and there are two smaller ones to attach the microwave to the cabinet. Your instructions should tell you where each hole needs to be placed.

SIDE NOTE: Ours came with a template to make it easier!

After the holes are drilled and the metal plate is attached to the wall, it’s time to install the microwave into the space. Make sure it’s sitting on the metal plate and run the cord through the pre-drilled hole before putting it into place. Then attach the microwave to the top cabinet with the screws.

Plug in the cord and your microwave should be in business (make sure to remove all plastic wrapping inside before testing). 

install cabinets around microwave

SOMETHING I FORGOT TO MENTION: The distance from the stove to the microwave bottom seamed really small to me so we decided to have ours higher, 22-1/2″. But now I would have to say the better height would be around 20″, ours is a little high for me to reach and I am 5’4″.

Well, I hope this post will help you finally move that microwave off the countertop because I am loving the extra space!

Installing an over-the-range microwave