Can I use countertop microwave as built-in?

Microwaves are an essential appliance in every kitchen. However, limited counter space can be a problem for some homeowners. That’s why many people are considering using a countertop microwave as built-in. But is this a safe and recommended option? Let’s examine the pros and cons, installation process, maintenance, and other essential points in detail in this article.

The Pros and Cons of Installing a Countertop Microwave as Built-In

Before you decide to install a countertop microwave as built-in, you should weigh the pros and cons to ensure that it meets your needs and preferences.


  • Cost-effective: Countertop microwaves are generally inexpensive compared to built-in ones, so this could be a cost-effective option to get the appliance you need.
  • Space-saving: Installing a countertop microwave as built-in can save a significant amount of counter space in your kitchen.
  • Easy installation: It is relatively easy to install a countertop microwave as built-in compared to other types of microwaves.


  • Safety concerns: While countertop microwaves are not designed to be built-in, some risks like inadequate ventilation and overheating can pose significant safety risks.
  • Non-integrated look: When a countertop microwave is installed as built-in, it does not fit seamlessly with other built-in appliances such as ovens and ranges.
  • Limited customization: Built-in microwaves come in different sizes and styles to match your kitchen’s aesthetic and space requirements. Countertop microwaves are often designed for countertop use, making it hard to customize to your kitchen’s aesthetics and space.

Additional Information:

Another factor to consider when installing a countertop microwave as built-in is the accessibility of the appliance. Since it is installed at a higher level than a countertop microwave, it may be difficult for shorter individuals or those with mobility issues to reach and use the microwave comfortably. This could be a significant inconvenience for some households, especially if the microwave is used frequently.

How to Properly Install a Countertop Microwave as Built-In

The installation of a countertop microwave as built-in differs from model to model. However, below are some general steps to follow for a successful installation process.

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Step 1: Measure your space to ensure the countertop microwave fits into the designated area.

Step 2: Purchase a universal trim kit designed for your countertop microwave model. Trim kits allow for proper ventilation, so it is advisable not to skip this step.

Step 3: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to attach the trim kit onto the microwave.

Step 4: Place the microwave with the installed trim kit in the specified space, aligning it correctly with the surrounding cabinets.

Step 5: Secure the microwave in the cabinet frame with screws and brackets to keep it from moving and ensure stability.

Step 6: Once the microwave is securely in place, plug it in and test it to ensure it is functioning properly. If there are any issues, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or contact customer support for assistance.

Step 7: It is important to regularly clean and maintain your built-in microwave to ensure it continues to function properly. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for specific cleaning and maintenance guidelines.

A Beginner’s Guide to Using a Countertop Microwave as Built-In

If this is your first time using a countertop microwave as built-in, below are some of the basic steps to follow:

Step 1: Open the microwave door and place your food inside.

Step 2: Set the cooking time and power level. Most microwaves come with pre-set buttons like “popcorn,” “reheat,” “defrost,” thus making the appliance easier to use.

Step3: Press “start” to begin cooking. Wait until the timer runs up before opening the microwave door, and then carefully remove the food using oven mitts or gloves.

It is important to note that when using a countertop microwave as built-in, you need to ensure that there is enough ventilation to prevent overheating. This can be achieved by leaving a gap of at least 3 inches between the microwave and the surrounding cabinets or walls.

Additionally, it is recommended that you use a trim kit to give your microwave a built-in look. Trim kits are designed to fit around the microwave and provide a seamless integration with your kitchen cabinetry.

The Different Types of Countertop Microwaves Suitable for Built-In Installation

Countertop microwaves vary in size, power, and features. Some models are more suited for built-in installation than others. It’s generally best to choose a high-quality microwave with the proper wattage and size for your kitchen. You should also ensure that the microwave is compatible with the trim kit you purchased for the built-in installation.

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One type of countertop microwave suitable for built-in installation is the compact microwave. These microwaves are smaller in size and have lower wattage, making them ideal for smaller kitchens or for those who don’t use their microwave frequently. They are also more affordable than larger models.

Another type of countertop microwave suitable for built-in installation is the convection microwave. These microwaves combine the features of a traditional microwave with those of a convection oven, allowing you to bake, roast, and grill in addition to microwaving. They are larger in size and more expensive than compact microwaves, but offer more versatility in cooking options.

The Best Practices for Maintaining a Countertop Microwave Used as Built-In

The best way to maintain your countertop microwave is to clean it regularly to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Clean the microwave’s exterior surfaces with a damp cloth and mild detergent. Avoid harsh chemicals that can damage the appliance’s surfaces.
  • Clean the microwave’s interior with a mixture of hot water and mild soap. Rinse and dry it thoroughly.
  • Always use microwave-safe dishes to avoid damaging the appliance’s interior surface or causing safety hazards.

Another important aspect of maintaining a countertop microwave used as built-in is to ensure proper ventilation. Built-in microwaves are often installed in cabinets or enclosed spaces, which can cause heat buildup and affect the appliance’s performance. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for ventilation and leave enough space around the microwave for air circulation.

It’s also essential to check the microwave’s door seal regularly. A damaged or worn-out seal can cause heat loss and affect the appliance’s efficiency. To check the seal, close the microwave door on a piece of paper and try to pull it out. If the paper slides out easily, it’s time to replace the seal.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Installing a Countertop Microwave as Built-In

Mistakes can happen when installing a countertop microwave, but some are more common than others. Here are some critical mistakes to avoid:

  • Skipping the installation manual: This can lead to improper installation, which can be a safety hazard.
  • Using the microwave without the trim kit: Improper ventilation can lead to overheating and create a fire hazard.
  • Choosing the wrong size trim kit: It’s important to choose the right-sized trim kit to ensure the microwave fits seamlessly and operate correctly. Measuring the cabinet where the built-in microwave will be installed is critical to avoid this mistake.
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Another common mistake to avoid when installing a countertop microwave as built-in is not considering the power source. It’s important to ensure that the electrical outlet is compatible with the microwave’s power requirements. Using an incompatible outlet can lead to electrical problems and damage the microwave. It’s also important to ensure that the outlet is easily accessible for maintenance and repairs.

What You Need to Know Before Using Your Countertop Microwave as Built-In

It is essential to understand that countertop microwaves are not designed for built-in installation. Thus, it’s critical to follow the installation instructions and ensure proper ventilation for safety purposes. It’s also essential to choose the right-sized microwave and trim kit and avoid common mistakes that can pose safety risks.

One of the most common mistakes people make when using a countertop microwave as a built-in is not providing enough ventilation. Without proper ventilation, the microwave can overheat and cause a fire hazard. It’s recommended to have at least three inches of space around the microwave and to use a venting system to ensure proper airflow. Additionally, it’s important to regularly clean the vents and filters to prevent any blockages that could lead to overheating.

How Does Using a Countertop Microwave as Built-In Affect Its Performance?

Using a countertop microwave as built-in does not necessarily impact its performance if installed correctly with the correct ventilations. However, if the microwave gets too hot, the performance could be affected, leading to damage that can affect the appliance’s durability.

It is important to note that using a countertop microwave as built-in may void the manufacturer’s warranty. This is because the appliance was not designed to be installed in this manner and may not be able to withstand the same level of heat and stress as a built-in microwave. It is recommended to consult with a professional installer and the manufacturer’s guidelines before attempting to install a countertop microwave as built-in.

An Expert’s Opinion on Whether You Should Use a Countertop Microwave as Built-In

Professionals have different opinions on whether to use a countertop microwave as built-in. Some recommend it, others don’t. However, it is crucial to hire an expert when installing the appliance to ensure your installation complies with safety standards and regulations.

In conclusion, before you decide to install a countertop microwave as built-in, weigh all the pros and cons, consider the necessary steps during installation, maintenance, and proper use for safety. Ensure you purchase the right size microwave and trim kit, or hire an expert to do the installation. With this, you can enjoy the convenience of a built-in microwave without sacrificing precious counter space or safety.

It is also important to note that using a countertop microwave as built-in may void the manufacturer’s warranty. This is because the appliance was not designed to be installed in this manner, and any damage caused by improper installation may not be covered. Therefore, it is essential to carefully read the manufacturer’s warranty and consult with an expert before making a decision.