Retrofit a dishwasher to modernise your kitchen

Tired of washing up by hand? Retrofit a sleek dishwasher to modernise your kitchen and rescue your dishpan hands.

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Does your kitchen make you smile – until it’s time to do the dishes? Perhaps there is a conspicuous void left behind after the previous owners took their freestanding dishwasher with them – or maybe your kitchen’s classic features are matched with so-called mod cons that are neither modern nor convenient. Regardless of the reason, if your kitchen is lacking a dishwasher, don’t despair. In certain cases, you can add one yourself, but even if you have to call in professional help, it is often a completely achievable prospect.

Spoilt for choice

Freestanding dishwashers are the most popular type and can simply slot into a suitable cavity (either 600mm wide for a standard size or 450mm wide for slimline models). If no provision was ever made for a dishwasher in your kitchen, you might decide on an integrated or semi-integrated unit, which is concealed in your cabinetry. An integrated dishwasher will be more labour-intensive to install, as you will typically need to have the kickboard removed and refitted. You’ll also have to source a panel matching your existing cabinet doors and attach it to the front of the dishwasher so it’s hidden.

If you’re renting, or if there is no practical space for a full-size dishwasher, you can still ditch the drudgery of washing-up by hand. Countertop models are the same width as standard dishwashers (sometimes smaller), but only half the height, so they can sit on top of the benchtop, and can be easily connected to your tap without calling a plumber.

To D.I.Y. or not to D.I.Y.?

The decision about when to call in the pros hinges on whether there is a power point within range of the dishwasher cable – usually around 1 metre to 1.5 metres. In some cases, you will also need modifications made to the plumbing so that the water supply hose can be connected. All mains-power work and virtually all plumbing jobs need to be carried out by licensed tradespeople. Even if the power and water supplies can be connected easily and there is a waste-hose connector on the trap under the sink, having the dishwasher professionally installed offers additional peace of mind. According to Jim Mavropoulos, national sales and marketing manager at Bellini, it’s worth talking to a pro. “We strongly recommend you check with a qualified electrician or service representative if you’re in doubt about whether the appliance is properly grounded,” he advises.

open dishwasher
A slimline dishwasher could be the answer if you are short of room or have an awkward space in your kitchen. They are usually 450mm wide. 

Find the perfect spot

In the best case, there will already be a cavity prepared for the dishwasher. If not, you will most likely need to remove a cabinet carcass and part of the kickboard to accommodate it. “Positioning is better suited close to taps and the siphon connection should be less than one metre away,” says Jim. Aside from installation requirements, having the machine next to the sink is also a common-sense way to streamline the process of rinse, stack, repeat. However, there’s no need to lose hope if the only place you can realistically locate a new dishwasher is further from the tap and trap than the default supply and waste hose’s reach. It is possible to purchase extra-long hoses that can be directed from your existing plumbing to wherever they are needed.

How does it stack up?

If you’re ready to hang up your rubber gloves and buy a dishwasher, look at how it rates in the following areas.

WELS rating: This stands for Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards. It’s a six-star scheme that rates the water efficiency of appliances. When purchasing a dishwasher, look for the WELS label, which will tell you the star rating – six stars being the most efficient – and how many litres of water that model uses. It will vary between models so do your homework.

Energy star rating: This indicates how efficiently the dishwasher uses electricity. Again, the more stars a model has, the more efficient it is. If energy saving is a priority, another handy feature to look out for is a delay timer, which allows you to set the machine to operate during off-peak hours when your electricity tariff is cheapest.

Capacity: This is described in terms of the nominal number of place settings a dishwasher holds. A small countertop unit might only take six settings, while a full-size 600mm model can hold up to 15. Work out the best capacity for your home.

Noise rating: This is definitely one to look out for in an open-plan space. Most of today’s dishwashers are very quiet, typically rated at about the 50-decibel mark, which is roughly the same as a spoken conversation.


Photo credit: Kaboodle

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