Installing a Kitchen Pass Through

A kitchen pass through opens up closed off spaces and allow light to flow to between rooms. It also allows you to keep an eye on the kids in the other room while you’re preparing meals for the family. Adding functionality to your rooms, and ensuring no one feels left out of anything while they are working in the kitchen, a kitchen pass through makes for the environment less closed off and more livable. A kitchen pass through is an opening in the wall between the kitchen and either a dining room or living room. The bass is often a counter with a counter at a lower height on the kitchen side.

Installing a Kitchen Pass Through

Installing a kitchen pass through involves cutting and removing a section of a wall. The process gets more complicated if there are any existing counters or cabinets in place. The pass through needs to be accessible from both sides, so any existing cabinetry will likely need to be rearranged. Be extra careful if you know there are wiring and plumbing running through the walls, and if it is a bearing wall, brace the ceiling joists before removing any existing studs. Installing the pass through involves removing the existing drywall, cutting out existing studs, and installing a new framed box to surround the hole that consists of “jack studs” (a second stud attached to an existing stud and provide support for the header) at the ends/sides of the opening, a new header on the top, and a base/sill plate on the bottom of the opening. The header is made up of a piece of 1/2″ plywood sandwiched between two 2×6\’s to provide structural strength, as it is now supporting the weight of the ceiling. The pass through can be used as a bar, a snack bar or simply a “pass through” from the kitchen. Types of countertops, wall colours and finishes are up to your own discretion.

The following is an example of how to install a kitchen pass through for a family with kids and toys strewn and cluttered all over the place. The first step to reclaiming this wasted space is to remove the wall, without compromising the structural integrity.

Begin creating the kitchen pass-through by clearing the room and marking the wall section to be removed. Score the drywall with a razor knife, pry off the trim and break the drywall off at the score marks. A crowbar and reciprocating saw make short work of the rest of the demolition. 

Always wear safety glasses and a dust mask when cutting or removing drywall. Wear work gloves when removing drywall from the wall to protect hands from sharp edges, drywall screws, nails or other objects. Choose two similar – but not identical – pre-made storage cabinets purchased from a home improvement store. One a regular under-counter cabinet, and the other an overhead cabinet.

Materials:

  • wood glue
  • screws
  • nails
  •  lumber
    • - 1×6 pine
    • - 1×8 pine
    • - 1/4″ lattice
    • - 3/4″ plywood
    •  - wood trim pre-fab cabinets
    •  1/4″ backer board
    •  tiles
    •  tile adhesive/mortar
    •  grout (sanded)
    •  countertop
    •  heavy-duty adhesive
    •  wood stain
    •  paint

 

Tools:

  • 2-1/2 quart plastic container
  •  safety glasses
  •  dust mask
  •  ear plugs
  •  work gloves
  • rubber or latex gloves
  • carpenter’s pencil
  •  level/straight edge
  •  tape measure
  •  razor knife
  •  paint scraper
  •  crowbar or pry bar hammer
  •  reciprocating saw
  •  circular saw
  •  jigsaw
  •  electric screwdriver
  • nail gun
  • notched trowel
  • grout float
  • sponge
  • chop saw
  • paint brushes, rollers, trays
  • drop cloths

Wall Demolition

  •  
    • Clear the area on both sides of the pass-through wall and remove any pictures or other items. Spread sturdy drop cloths on the floor on both sides of the wall to protect floors and make cleanup easier.
    • Use a pencil and straight edge to mark the portion of the wall for removal. Remember: The end post of the project wall is load-bearing, so it will remain as part of the final design. Never remove a wall stud or post if removal will harm the structural integrity of the wall.
    • Use a crowbar to remove the baseboards in the project area of the wall.
    • Use a razor knife to score the drywall along the marked line. Remove all of the drywall using a hammer, crowbar or other means (figure A).

Safety Alert: Always wear safety glasses and a dust mask when cutting or removing drywall. Wear work gloves when removing drywall from the wall to protect hands from sharp edges, drywall screws, nails or other objects (figure B).

  •  
    • Use a reciprocating saw to finish the demolition (figure C). The project wall wasn\’t solid all the way to the ceiling, and was strengthened with plywood instead of wall studs. When working with a more traditional wall, make sure the studs aren\’t load-bearing, then cut through them as close to the ends as possible with the reciprocating saw. Trim out the bare surface at the ceiling with lumber and paint to match the rest of the project at completion.

Safety Alert: Wear safety glasses and earplugs when using a reciprocating saw, and keep kids and pets well away from the work area. These powerful tools can generate a strong “kick back” and can be difficult to control.

  •  
    • With the wall section removed, clean up the project area and move on to customizing the cabinets.

Modifying Storage Cabinets

  •  
    • Remove the cabinet doors and drawers and set aside.
    • Starting with the larger cabinet, use a straight edge to run a level line and mark the area of the center backing that will be removed. Don\’t remove the backing behind the toe kick or the drawers.
    • Use a circular saw to cut out the center of the backing section. Switch to a jigsaw to cut the rest of the way to each edge.

Safety Alert: Always wear safety glasses and use caution when using any type of power saw.

  •  
    • Use a paint scraper to clean off the glue from the back of the cabinet. After cleaning up the edges on both sides, pop out the perfectly cut piece.
    • Repeat the same process to remove the backing from the smaller cabinet.
    • To retrofit the smaller cabinet as a glassware cabinet, build an internal frame by gluing, then nailing strips of wood to the remaining part of the backing. Then flip the unit over and nail plywood to the strips to form a new back. This design “steals” some of the depth from the smaller cabinet and gives it to the larger cabinet for more toy storage.
    • Use plywood and a nail gun to build a plywood box to match the toe kick on the larger base cabinet. The toe kick on the project cabinet is 4 inches high and 9 inches deep, leaving a 3-inch overhang when it\’s mounted to the bottom of the 12-inch-deep cabinet.
    • With the toe kick in place, lift both of the modified cabinets into position and check to make sure they\’re level and even with each other. Attach the two cabinets using screws across the top.
    • Cut a wood strip to match the cabinet width and two to match the cabinet height. Apply a bead of glue to each wood strip and nail them into position across the bottom and up the sides of the cabinets.
    • Put the entire unit in place, check to make sure it is level and anchor it to the wall by driving screws through the wood strips on the sides.

Installing the Countertop

  •  
    • Measure the combined depth of the cabinets and cut a piece of 3/4″ plywood to that width. Cut the plywood to the desired length for the overall countertop – including the overhang past the wall post.
    • The plywood for the countertop will slide into place around the post at the end of the cabinets. This will help keep the countertop stable where it extends past the post. Use a measuring tape, pencil and straight edge to measure and mark where to cut out a slot to go around the post.
    •  Measure and mark a line 1 foot in from each side of the plywood and 1 foot from the post end.
    • Use these lines to draw the arcs for the curve at the end of the countertop: Anchor the tape measure where the two lines intersect at one corner of the plywood, hold a pencil against the tape measure at the 1-foot mark and rotate the pencil and tape measure around the anchor point to draw the arc. Repeat for the other corner. 
    • Wearing safety glasses, use a jigsaw to cut out the arcs. Hold the jigsaw firmly and guide it by twisting the back of the saw.
  •  
    • After cutting around the edges, cut the slot from the plywood to slide around the load-bearing wall post. Don\’t discard the slot piece.
    • Use the plywood as a template to cut a piece of backer board the same size and shape as the plywood. 
    • Slide the plywood in place on top of the cabinets. Trim the slot piece to fit between the post and the wall, and slip it into place.
    •  Use screws to attach the plywood to the cabinets. Drive screws down into the middle (backs) of the cabinets. Also drive screws up through the underside of the four corner brace blocks into the underside of the plywood top. Don\’t drive screws down through the plywood into the side walls of the cabinets: They can easily split.
    •  Apply heavy-duty adhesive to the backer board and press it into place, then secure to the plywood with screws. Don\’t forget to trim and install the long, narrow piece of backer board to cover the slot between the wall post and the rest of the wall.
    •  Allow the adhesive to cure according to the package instructions.

Installing Countertop and Final Trim Work

Install the countertop of your choice as you may any countertop for cabinetry/islands and finish off by sealing the grout according to manufacturer’s specifications.

Blend the load-bearing wall post to match the rest of the 

room. Karl and Michael stained and sealed the post. 

Re-install the cabinet doors and drawers according to the manufacturer\’s instructions.