Elevated dishwasher (3/7)

How to include an elevated dishwasher into an Ikea kitchen.

  1. Introduction
  2. Design and constraints
  3. Heights and support beams
  4. Materials
  5. Construction
  6. Installation on-site
  7. Downloads and photos

This is part 3.


In this section, we’ll calculate the heights of the 3 parts mentioned above: bottom cabinet, dishwasher recess, top cabinet.

The bottom cabinet is the base on which the dishwasher is standing. As noted above, its front must be 40 cm high, and we must now figure out, how tall the cabinet’s ‘body’ (h2 in the image below), must be. The goal is to make it so, that the dishwasher sits as low as possible. Yes, we want an elevated dishwasher, but elevating it by about 55 cm (40 cm cabinet + 15 cm legs) would be too much, also considering there are 2 appliances above it that we’d like to be able to still use comfortably.

Bottom cabinet and dishwasher

We first look at the front panels. Because the dishwasher is usually installed under the countertop, it is fitted with a panel with a height h1 of 80 cm, just as the other cabinets under the countertop. If we’d use that same panel in this case, the top of the dishwasher would sit 120 cm above the bottom of the cabinet. However, as the door itself is actually less tall, the panel does not need to be 80 cm. In the case of this particular dishwasher, I found that I could to shorten it to h1 = 72 cm and still leave some room when opening the door flat; see the 3 images below.

Choose h1 such that B > A. That way, the drawer panel (not shown) and the dishwasher panel don’t collide when opening the dishwasher.

Having determined that the dishwasher front panel height h1 = 72 cm, we can look at the heights of the cabinet and dishwasher, which, like the front panels, must add to 112 cm. The dishwasher’s height g can be varied between 81.8 and 89.8 cm. We want to choose a low value, so that more is left for the cabinet height h2. If we choose the dishwasher height g = 83 cm, we can create a vertical wiggle room of about 1 cm which helps when installing or removing the dishwasher. Subtracting g from 112 cm, we get the bottom cabinet height h2 = 29 cm.

As the total Tower has a height of 260 cm (excluding the legs), subtracting g and h2 leaves the top cabinet height of 148 cm.

Tower of Power, view from left, showing the heights of the 3 parts: bottom cabinet, dishwasher recess, and top cabinet. The front panels are not shown, nor are the wooden support beams or the side cover panels. This drawing starts at 15 cm from the floor, as it does not show the legs.

Support beams

3 wooden beams are used to support the top cabinet. Their location is shown below; all run the entire height,from the floor to the top of the Tower, and have a height of 275 cm (260 cm + 15 cm legs). Choosing all 3 with a cross-section of 5×7 cm will do fine. The rest of this section is explaining the reasoning behind that choice, as well as showing the cut-outs necessary on one of the beams.

Tower of Power. Top view, showing support beams (brown), top cabinet sides (yellow) and cover panels. Also showing the screws that fix the beams to the wall (green), and those fixing the cabinet to the beams (purple).

Beams on right

The 2 support beams on the right are fixed to the wall to the right. For their size A, there are several considerations:

  • The screws fixing the beam to the wall, as well as those fixing the top cabinet to the beam, are driven in left-to-right. Therefore, A must be large enough to provide some ‘wood thickness’ to hold those screws; e.g. at least 3 cm.
  • Size A determines the Tower’s distance from the right wall. Most people will want to have this as small as possible, but in our case, the presence of a bulky door frame meant the Tower (and therefore, A) needed to be at least 5 cm from the wall, so that value was chosen.
  • In the rare case the walls are not perpendicular to one another, different values for A can be used to create a plane that is at right angles to the back wall. Also, if the right wall is not smooth, the beams are used to level it out; see the images of the construction phase, further below.

The other dimension of these 2 beams, B, has no influence elsewhere and must only be enough for them to be strong. They are 7 cm in our kitchen, mainly so that all beams could be the same size.

Beam on left

The third support beam is located inside the Tower so that it is not visible. It is fixed to the back wall. For this beam, its size C is not critical: it must be enough to providing enough support (to purple screws) and not split (due to green screws). A minimum of ~4 cm seems sensible, but 5 was chosen here to keep in line with the other 2 beams.

The size D provides most challenges. First of all, it must be large enough, because:

  • The larger D, the more bending resistance the beam has.
  • The larger D, the more space there is to place the screws (in purple), so that they are both far enough away from the edge of the (bright-yellow) top cabinet (which itself is already located 1 cm in front of the wall), and far enough away from the front side of the beam so that it doesn’t split. 7 cm seemed a good value.

The problem with this value for D however, is, that it needs more space than is available behind the appliances (dishwasher, steam oven) and drawer (in bottom cabinet). Therefore, some cutting is necessary, which is calculated here:

  • Ikea’s cabinets stand 1 cm from the back wall, and have a depth (i.e. perpendicular to that back wall) of 59 cm, so that there is 60 cm of space in total.
  • The dishwasher is 55 cm deep, plus a (measured) 0.4 cm air gap between the door and the door panel. This means the rear side of the dishwasher stands 4.6 cm from the back wall. This is less than the 7 cm needed for the support beam.
  • The steam oven leaves a few mm more space – its rear side stands 5.4 cm from the back wall – but it’s still not enough for the beam to pass behind it. appliances sizesAppliance sizes. Dishwasher is 55 cm deep (+ 0.4 cm air gap), the steam oven 54.6 cm.

The solution has been to make the support beam behind these appliances thinner. About 6 mm more was removed than mathematically necessary, so that the beam is 4 cm thick behind the dishwasher, and 4.8 cm thick behind the steam oven. Additionally, a small recess was added to accommodate the bottom cabinet’s drawer rails. The exact measures are shown further below.

Tower of Power, view from left. Only the appliances and the ‘hidden’ support beam are shown.

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