How’s It Hanging?

That was the big question last week. Not in the “Hey, how ya doing?” sense of things, but more in the “Um, how are we gonna hang this $60 hood we found on Craigslist” kind of way.

Sherry talked last week about how we planned to encase it in a DIY’d wood cover (see inspiration pics back on last week’s post). Both of us were so excited about (1) the price tag and (2) the final look that we didn’t really think through the middle part: actually installing the darn thing. So yeah… #planningfail?

Here was our challenge (beyond just not having any of the installation materials or instruction): this is an under-cabinet hood and, well, we don’t have any cabinets to install it under. I figured that there were dozens of sites online detailing how to convert an under-cabinet hood to a wall-mounted one, so I wasn’t worried… until my Google searches started coming up empty. That’s when I started to second guess our plan. Was this just something that couldn’t be done?

Then I discovered these.

We didn’t buy these (our hood is Jenn-Air brand). But the fact that Kenmore sold bracket specifically “for mounting range hoods to wall when overhead cabinet is not used” meant it was not a completely crazy idea to retrofit ours to hang on the wall as well. So Sherry and I concocted a plan, did some shopping, and readied ourselves for some hood hanging (and possible hood hanging failure, as is always a possibility when we attempt to figure this stuff out as we go). This picture will make more sense soon, but just know it involved some wood pieces as a makeshift mounting panel and some heavy duty metal brackets as a stand-in for a cabinet.

But before we could put our plan in motion, some details needed to be taken care of. You know, little things like oh-yeah-we-didn’t-tile-high-enough-under-the-vent-pipe. Another lapse in planning. Oh well, it took about 20 minutes to whip up a small batch of thinset and fill it in with some spare tiles. Yes, it was slightly maddening to have to go back to the tiling phase (especially for eight measly rows) but by this point we’ve learned just to laugh. Wince a little. Laugh some more. And get it done.

Then we mapped out all the important stuff on the wall to ensure that things would hang where they were supposed to hang. Looks pretty crazy, right? But I promise it makes lots of sense…

All of this painters tape is marking important reference points, such as:

In case you’re wondering how I located the studs, it was actually thanks to some forethought on Sherry’s part. Back when that wall was open she begged me to somehow mark where they were before we tiled and covered everything up, so I opted to make small marks on the ceiling to keep track of where each stud was. Then I taped a piece of thread to that mark, tied a paper clip to the other end (to weigh it down) and voila – a perfectly marked stud all the way down the wall. And once we hang our crown molding around the ceiling those little stud-marking dots will be hidden once and for all.

With all of our guides marked, it was time to screw in our first piece of wood. Here’s the deal with the wood. The hood by itself was technically wide enough to hang from two studs, except the studs didn’t line up with the two notched holes in the back of the hood (which were at either end) and I didn’t trust that it would hold that way even if they were lined up perfectly.

So we figured we’d screw a slightly wider-than-the-hood piece of wood into two studs (and use a heavy duty anchor to secure it in a third location) and then hang the hood onto additional screws that lined up with the hood’s notched holes. We actually got a contractor’s blessing (just didn’t feel right drilling into our pretty wall o’ tile without double checking our plan with an expert first. So after that phone call we took a few deep breaths and moved on to the next (very scary) part of our plan: drilling into our tile. GASP.

I bought a special bit that’s meant for glass and tile. It took a bit of pressure, but eventually I got all of my holes drilled. Though I think we both silently freaked out the entire time drilling was in progress.

Once we got over having riddled our tile with holes (okay, there were just six) I used some 2.5″ screws to secure the chunky plank of wood to the wall. I have to tell you, feeling those screws grab the stud so tightly was one of the most confidence inspiring parts of this process. I felt like I could’ve hung my whole body weight from this thing – that is, if I was able to grip the tiny ledge with my lanky girl fingers.

With one board in (to hang the hood from) I then had to attach a second one (to hang the brackets from) also with long screws into two studs and a third set of screws into heavy duty anchors to further enforce things. Then it looked a little something like this. Note: the vent pipe is slightly off-center, not the boards (so once we build the frame for the hood that will be solved and it’ll all look centered). Oh, and the blue arrows are pointing to the two screws that the hood will hang from.

We felt pretty good when we realized that most upper cabinets are just held to studs with screws and then loaded up with dishes and plates and other items (and then a hood might be added on top of all that weight) and the whole shebang stays up.

Speaking of which, it was time to put the hood up (since the brackets would need to go up after the hood). Okay, so maybe this part was scarier than drilling into tile. We half pictured the whole wall of tile pulling off of the studs. But lucky for us, it didn’t budge. It was up there solid as a rock. Which is good news, because clearly I could use less time worrying about hanging hoods and more time spent shaving…

Anyways. Sherry supported the hood just in case (she’s the perfect height to rest it on her head from underneath it while standing on a small stepladder) and I attached the brackets to the wood panel and then into the hood using the same slots where it would’ve attached to a wall cabinet.

It was feeling plenty secure by this point, so I relieved Sherry’s head from hood-holding duties while I secured the second bracket and she took some more photos.

Once it was tightly held to the wall, I took care of some of the finishing touches – like attaching the vent pipe to the hood and plugging it in (btw, how lucky were we that the existing plug hole in the range hood was pretty much perfectly placed for our outlet???) – and we were in business. Phew! Update: We’ve since learned that metal foil tape (sold at hardware stores) is better for taping that duct together than duct tape (regardless of the more fitting name of the latter – haha) so we’ll be retaping that vent with foil tape to keep the seal nice and strong for the long term. Thanks for the tip guys!

Okay, so admittedly it looks kinda ugly right now. The exposed pipe / wood / giant hole in ceiling aren’t really a good look, are they?

But it was a good start. Not only did we have a hood for the first time in over two months, but we had a hood that wasn’t crazy close to the stove like our old microwave was (we hung it 34″ from the top of the counter which is right between the hood manufacturer’s recommended 30″ – 36″ distance from the stovetop). And this hood has two fancy light settings. Oooooh. Ahhhhh.

And I know the exposed wood looks kinda crazy – especially because it sticks out about an inch on the sides. But I promise this is all part of a plan (hint: they’ll make for a good spot to attach my homemade wood hood cover), so just bear with me for a couple of days.

Oh and don’t mind this POV, we didn’t have the filters snapped in yet (they’re basically big stainless steel rectangles, so it looks a lot better from below once those are in). We’ll have to share more photos soon.

Now in case you’re still worried about this thing coming crumbling down overnight (we were – we actually pulled the stove out before we went to bed the first night just in case!), know that it has survived a few full days now with nary a creak or shake. So without jinxing ourselves, Sherry and I are calling this hanging project a success. All is good in the hood, as they say. Between the long screws going firmly into those studs and the heavy duty brackets also adding extra from-the-top support, this guy is pretty darn secure. So after a few days of breath-holding, Captain Careful can officially exhale.

Now for the fun (?) part – building a pretty wood cover for it. Somebody crank up my jams! We’ll be back with all those details in a few days, but in the meantime, what did you guys do this weekend? Any heavy-object hanging? Tile drilling? Using your head to support something? Oh and something crazy crazy crazy is going on in our house today (well, it starts today and lasts for the next three weeks!!!) so we’ll fill you in on all that tomorrow (once we have lived through one day of it and have some photos to share).

 

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