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Closet Installation Prep Tips

Prepare for new closet installation

So, you've taken the plunge and decided to go custom with a new closet or storage system. You've met with your designer, finalized the design, and scheduled the installation. Now you just sit back and wait for the magic, right? Well… there's actually one more step. Your space should be prepped prior to installation day.

How to prepare your space for a new closet installation.

Getting a new closet or other organization system installed is exciting. You've spent a lot of time dreaming and looking at designs. You've planned a space for everything. It will be so much easier to stay organized once there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. You're looking forward to the grand day when the closet installer arrives. There's nothing for you to do but wait, right? Not quite.

When your closet installer arrives on installation day, he's going to bring in all the pieces to your new storage system. The plan is that he will be able to start assembling everything right away. But in order to do this, the space must be cleaned out and prepped BEFORE he gets there.

    How to Plan for a Smooth Installation

  1. Remove everything from the space

    If you are getting a new closet, pantry, garage storage, etc. your space must be empty before the closet installer arrives. Of course you will have to take out all of your clothes or other possessions. This is a great time to weed out the stuff you haven't used in years. Prepare a big box or bag for charity. As you take things out, go over each item with a critical eye. Fill your bag or box with all the things that are still in good shape, but you no longer use. It can be hard for many of us to let go, but remember, somewhere there is someone really needs your stuff.

    Empty room with painting supplies
    Empty your space so that the walls are completely blank before the closet installer arrives. Removal of baseboards is not required but often recommended. Ask your designer or closet company if you are unsure. When you leave baseboards intact with a floor-based system, expect that the bottom of the vertical panels will have to be notched around the baseboard. Some people don't like this look. Baseboard doesn't matter with a suspended system because that type of closet doesn't extend all the way down to the floor.

    You may have anticipated the need to clean out and are ready to move everything you are keeping to temporary clothing racks, the guest bedroom, dining room table, or maybe you are planning to lay clothing across your bed. But that's not enough. An empty space means that if you have an old closet or cabinet system in place, it must be removed prior to the installation of the new system. You need blank walls. It may seem like common sense, but you'd be surprised by how many people are unaware or never consider this important step. The closet installer cannot get started with installing a new system until the old one is totally gone. Your closet company may offer a removal service, but this must be scheduled in advance. Exactly how far in advance will depend on your needs in regard to the next steps. Removal is almost never included in your initial quote unless specifically stated.

  2. Assess the Floor and Replace if Needed

    Pantry with mismatched floor
    This pantry should have had the flooring fixed so that the floor under the storage matched the rest of the kitchen before installation. Once the installer puts in the new closet, the floor cannot be replaced without taking the whole system down.

    The best time to access/replace your closet floor is when the space is empty. Once a floor-based system is in place, you are pretty much stuck with whatever flooring is under it. This can lead to crazy mismatched floors like those in the example above. The mismatched floor may be mostly covered/hidden by the new closet when finished, but then again, pieces of it may show. So, if you have thoughts about moving from carpeting to hardwood, vinyl tile to laminate, or something else, do it now. You will thank yourself later on

    Changing the flooring in advance is not as important with a suspended system. However, although the closet doesn't rest on it, it is still much easier to change the flooring when there is nothing in the space. And even if you like your floor and don't want a new one, the best time to clean or refinish the existing floor is now — while the closet is empty.

  3. Spackle and Paint

    Nothing ruins the look of your new expensive storage system like ugly, dingy walls. Do you really want to be reminded of where the old cabinets and shelves were hung every time you open your new cabinet door? Probably not.

    Spackle and paint before closet installation
    Spackle and paint before your new closet is installed.

    Tearing out an old closet in order to install a new one will leave telltale signs on your walls. Nail holes and discoloration where the old shelves and rods were anchored is common. This unsightly appearance doesn't compromise the strength of the wall or the new storage system but will be visible unless you paint and spackle the walls in order to get rid of it. The old holes are especially noticeable on an unbacked storage system. Why not take the opportunity to clean up the walls before your new closet is installed? It is much easier to paint a blank wall than to tape everything off and go around all the shelves and panels with a brush later. If you simply don't like to do this type of work, let your closet company know and they will help you schedule a service to handle this prep work for you. Painting and spackling must be completed at least 24 hours before closet installation so that the walls have adequate time to dry.

  4. Sweep and Clean

    Broom in empty corner of closet floor
    Even if you decide not to do anything else to your space, sweep and clean it while it is empty.

    It's much easier to clean a room when it is empty. Get rid of any dirt, spills, crud, plaster dust, or paint drips before you put in the new closet. It will be harder to sweep it all away after the closet is in place and filled.

    Your closet installer will most likely cover the floors and wear booties over his shoes during the installation. But if your space is sticky and icky before he starts, how much can you really expect this to help? You will definitely want to get rid of any food spills before installing a floor-based storage system. Sticky fruit juice or other food products left under your pantry will be next to impossible to clean later and may attract insects.

  5. On the Day of Your Installation

    Family game time
    Plan an activity for the kids and other family members away from your closet installation.

    Closet installation is a form of home construction. Even though your installers will certainly take every precaution to ensure safety, it is best if you can schedule activities for the kids away from the area where the crew is working. You don't really want little ones underfoot while the installers are drilling and sawing. Depending on the size of your project, the installation might take a while. If schools are open, schedule during school hours. Otherwise, have something else planned for your small children to keep them busy and away from the construction area.

Preparing ahead will help your installation go smoothly!

Prepping may seem like hard work, but it will make everything easier for you in the long run. Take a little time to clean and empty your space before installation day. You will be happier with your end result. And remember, if you're not very handy or you really don't want to do the prep work yourself, Closet Works can contract the paint and tear out for you. The important thing is that you are able to enjoy your new storage system after installation day and for many years to come.