DIY Cabinet Installation

Tips on how to properly install cabinets. With these expert tips, you’ll be able to hang kitchen wall cabinets and install island cabinets.

First, make a mark on the wall.

A proper layout is the foundation of a good cabinet installation. Draw a straight line from the highest point on the floor to the top of the base cabinets. Draw another line for the bottom of the upper cabinets 19-1/2 in. up from that line. On the wall, label the placement of the kitchen cupboards and appliances. To line up the edge of the first cabinet to be installed, draw a vertical line. Finally, as you begin a project on how to install kitchen cabinets, mark the stud locations.

Place the First Cabinet in the Correct Position

Set the first cabinet 1/4 inch away from the positioning line and shim the base until the top is level from front to back and the top is even with the horizontal line. Anchor it with 2-1/2-in. screws driven through the back into the wall studs.

Remove the doors and drawers from the cabinet.

We’ve all seen painting efforts when the hinges and hardware are painted and the drawer interiors are slopped with paint. It’s tempting to start your how to paint kitchen cabinets project by leaving the doors in place, but removing them, as well as all the hardware, will result in a much neater and more professional-looking work. Many modern cabinets have drawer fronts that can be removed by unscrewing a few screws. If your drawer fronts are attached to the drawer and can’t be removed, cover the drawer sides and bottom with masking tape if you don’t want to paint them.

Large Shim Bows

Most of the time, you may shim the cabinets as you go, but if the wall has a significant bow (more than 3/8 in. ), shim it out before hanging the cabinet. If you don’t, you risk accidently pulling the back of the cabinet off when securing it. Hold a level against the wall and move a shim up from the bottom (when doing the top side, go in from the top) until it’s snug. Then secure it with pins or tape.

Starting with the upper cabinets is a good place to start.

When you’re not dangling much over the base cabinets, it’s easier to hang the uppers. Start by resting the upper cabinets on a ledger board to ensure a nice, straight alignment and save the frustration of keeping the cabinets in place while screwing them to the wall. Install the bottom kitchen cabinets after the top cabinets have been placed.

Drill, clamp, and fasten

When joining two cabinets, make sure the face frames are aligned and clamped together. At this point, both cabinets should be connected to the wall, although you may need to loosen one of them to get the frames to line up exactly. Clamps with hand-screws do not flex, and less flex equals a tighter grip. Before connecting them together with a 2-1/2-in. screw, drill a 1/8-in. hole. Drill and place the screw head in the cabinet that is least obvious of the two.

For scribing, use a block of wood.

Finding the biggest space between the outside of the cabinet and the wall is another stage in how to install cabinets. Make a pencil note on your filler strip with that measurement (measure over right to left in this case). Clamp the filler flush with the inside of the vertical rail of the cabinet. Make a scribing block the same size as the distance between the wall and your pencil mark. Trace a pencil line down the filler strip with your block. On the filler strip, masking tape makes the pencil line stand out and protects the finish from the saw table.

Use high-quality cabinet screws.

The R4 self-countersinking screw from GRK is the go-to cabinet mounting screw for many top cabinet makers. You’ll pay the price, but why save money on screws when you’re spending thousands on cabinets? Use drywall screws at all costs—they’ll only pop off and leave you with an extra hole.

Shim After Fastening the Back

Align the base cabinets with the wall’s level line. Attach the cabinets’ backs to that line. Use shims to level the sides of the cabinets once the backs are level. Take your time with this step; no one wants eggs to roll off a tilted counter.

Calculate the Disparity

At the top and bottom, measure the distance between the wall and the end cabinets. Draw a cutting line on the backside of a filler strip and add 1/16 in. to each measurement.

Filler Strip should be cut

Clamp the filler strip and cut it with a 10-degree bevel from the backside, so the “keeper” piece’s wide edge is facing the front.

The Filler should be fitted and installed.

Fit the infill strip to the bevel and plane the sharp edge until it fits precisely. Place the strip on the cabinet frame, pre-drill, and screw it in place.

For Kitchen Island Installation, use 2x2s to secure cabinets to the floor.

Islands and peninsulas require cabinets to be fixed to the floor. Assemble the island cabinets and arrange them in their proper locations. To begin installing the kitchen island, draw a rough outline of the cabinets on the floor. To account for the thickness of the cabinets, screw 2x2s to the floor 1/2 in. on the inside of the line. Screws are used to secure the island cabinets to the 2x2s. Place flooring blocks under the 2x2s if necessary.

Raise the cabinets to make room for the new flooring.

If you’re putting hardwood or tile after the cabinets, you’ll need to lift the cabinets off the floor, or the dishwasher won’t fit under the counter. Add the distances to the guideline for the base cabinet tops using blocks to approximate the finished floor height. Hold the blocks back from the front of the room a little to allow the flooring to tuck underneath. Your flooring crew will be ecstatic.

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