Built-in appliances have become quite the rage in recent years, ever since people started to gravitate toward a more minimalistic interior design style. Microwaves are a great example of this because they stay easily accessible and no longer take up vast amounts of counter space. But sometimes, having a built-in microwave can become pricey, so is it possible to put a countertop microwave into a cabinet?

You can put a countertop microwave in a cabinet instead of a built-in type, as long as you follow the necessary safety precautions (ensuring adequate ventilation, the shelf is strong enough to hold it, and proper wire management) to ensure your cabinet and microwave don’t get damaged.

In this article, we will be taking a deep dive into the topic of using a countertop microwave in a cabinet, looking at things like whether it is possible, whether it is safe, and how you can install a countertop microwave in a cabinet yourself. So, let’s get started!

Is It Safe to Put a Countertop Microwave in a Cabinet?

Many people like the look of a built-in microwave but don’t like the price tag that comes with it. This leads them to try and take shortcuts and use a countertop microwave in their cabinetry instead.

It is possible to use a countertop microwave in a cabinet instead of a built-in one. Although built-in microwaves are explicitly designed for this purpose, there are ways to work around some of the hindrances that can come from using a countertop model.

When looking to install a countertop microwave into a cabinet, there are several safety factors you’ll need to consider and make adjustments for to ensure you don’t do unnecessary harm to your cabinets or your microwave. As long as you take the necessary precautions, it is perfectly safe to use a countertop microwave in a cupboard.


Ensuring your microwave is adequately ventilated when installed into a cabinet is the most important thing to do to ensure the safety of your home and your appliance. The ventilation placement on countertop microwaves is different from that on built-in microwaves. Countertop microwaves usually have vents either on the sides or on the top, while built-in models almost always have their vents at the back.

When putting a countertop microwave into a cabinet, you’ll want to ensure that there is enough space on all sides to ensure that there is adequate airflow around your microwave. Most manufacturers will have minimum clearance measurements in their user manual, so make sure to consult the manual and use those measurements to determine whether you can put your microwave into one of your cabinets.

Making Sure Your Cabinet Can Hold Your Microwave

Not only does the cabinet you choose to put your microwave in need to have enough space for ventilation, but it also needs to be strong enough to support the weight of your microwave. When installing your microwave into your cabinet, check that the shelf it is standing on isn’t bending severely and that the shelf is secure on its supports. If you want to be extra careful, you can add extra supports to the shelf to ensure it is sturdy.

It would help if you also chose a place in your cabinet that is easily accessible, especially not too high; otherwise, you might have an accident when taking hot stuff out of the microwave. If you have kids and you’re putting your microwave in a low cabinet, make sure it has doors that can close (or even lock) so that you kids don’t play with the microwave and accidentally hurt themselves or each other.

Cleaning Your Microwave

When your microwave is on a counter, cleaning it (both inside and out) is a breeze, but things get a little more complicated when you put it in a cabinet. Cleaning the inside of your microwave is still relatively easy, but the outside is a lot harder to get to. Over time, dust and debris can settle on the outside of your microwave and potentially clog up its vents.

If the vents are blocked, your microwave won’t be able to ventilate itself properly, and this could lead to it overheating and eventually breaking. So if you put your microwave in a cabinet, you’ll need to take it out every few months and give the outside a good cleaning. This will ensure that the vents stay clean and your microwave keeps functioning properly.

Using a Trim Kit

Trim kits are made specifically for “building” a countertop microwave into cabinetry. They aren’t a ‘must’ when putting your microwave into a cabinet, but they will give you that “built-in” look while also protecting the microwave from dust and grime. They will also have the right amount of ventilation allowance, so you won’t need to worry about that.

If you do decide to get a trim kit, you should get one from the same manufacturer that made your microwave, as they will have trim kits made with your microwave size, type, and ventilation requirements in mind.

Wire Management

When your microwave is in a cabinet, you’ll still need a place to plug it in for it to work. If there is a power outlet in the back of your cabinet, you can plug it in there; otherwise, you’ll need to cut a small hole in the side of your cabinet to pass the plug through and plug it in at the nearest power outlet. It is not recommended to use an extension cord or a power bar, as microwaves need to be connected to a grounded power outlet.

If you’re on the fence about putting your microwave into a cabinet, but you still want to have it out of sight, and you have a relatively large pantry, you can put your microwave in there instead. This will keep it off the counter but will save you the hassle of dealing with ventilation issues.

How to Install Your Countertop Microwave in a Cabinet

If you’ve decided you want to put your microwave into a cabinet, you’ll either need to install it yourself or hire someone else to do it for you. The process is relatively simple, so you should be able to do it yourself, with the help of a few tools and perhaps an extra pair of hands.

To install your countertop microwave in a cabinet:

  1. Open and remove your cabinet doors if there are any.
  2. Insert the microwave into the cavity.
  3. Using your tape measure, measure the necessary ventilation clearances around your microwave and make marks so you’ll know where to put the microwave again later.
  4. Take the microwave out of the cavity again.
  5. Using the drill and self-feed drill bit, make a hole at the back of your cabinet (on the side nearest to your power outlet) big enough to feed the microwave’s power cord through. If there’s a plug at the back of your cabinet, you can skip this step.
  6. Give your microwave a thorough clean before putting it back into the cavity.
  7. Plug your microwave into a power outlet, and you’re good to go! Remember to reattach the cabinet doors to the cabinet if you took them off in the beginning.

If you’re using a trim kit, you can follow the instructions that came with your specific kit to install it into your cabinet and how to install your microwave into the trim kit.


Your countertop microwave doesn’t need to be an eyesore, as it can be easily installed into a cabinet, following the proper instructions and safety precautions. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, it is always better to hire someone to do it for you; otherwise, you can easily do it yourself.

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