How to Install Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets

Before you get started on this project, it helps to inspect each cabinet. Thoroughly review all pre-assembled items immediately when they arrive, ensuring that the boxes, doors, fronts, and shelves are intact and ready to install.

If you ordered filler strips or extra time, you’d want to verify that these items were included in the delivery.

When you are the one assembling the kitchen cabinets, it helps to verify that every piece and all your hardware are available for the work.

Steps to Follow When Installing Kitchen Cabinets

You’re going to need a tape measure, power drill, twist drill, screwdrivers, pens, and a standard level to complete your installation project. Shims and drywall screws are often necessary to ensure the boxes remain secure. 

Once you have these items, you’re ready to follow these steps.

1. Locate high spots on your kitchen floor.

You must find the highest spot on your kitchen floor to have a successful cabinet installation. Most homes, especially older ones, don’t have a flat, level floor. Shimming your cabinet to make it plumb is easier than cutting into the bottom of the box.

Use the level on top of a 2×4” board. Shim the low end until you get a level reading. Next, every couple of feet, use the tape measure to locate the distance between your finished floor and the line made.

2. Mark the top of your base cabinets.

Starting from the high point, mark 34.5 inches up your wall to indicate the baseline for the installation. This height is the standard size for kitchen cabinets. Dry-fit the boxes by arranging them with the corner first, making them flush against each other according to your design blueprints.

Once each one is in place, label the location of each one. It helps to remember that the cabinet face frames are about a half-inch wider than the unit’s back. You’ll also want to verify the measurements of your stove, sink, dishwasher, and refrigerator openings.

3. Mark the bottom wall.

You’ll want to draw a level line 19.5 inches above the top market drawn during the previous step. This measurement gives you the area needed for a 1.5-inch countertop and the eighteen inches required for the defined space as defined by code.

Label and mark the position of your upper cabinets on the wall with a pencil. It helps to verify your layout at this step, ensuring the lowers aren’t in the way.

Once you finish that process, locate all of your wall studs.

4. Grab your hardware.

Most kitchen cabinets get installed with 3-inch #10 screws mounted to wall studs. If drywall installation is necessary, toggle bolts are the only method to use. You’ll need to pre-drill the holes for them and secure the cabinet to an adjacent one to ensure it supports enough weight.

If you’re installing kitchen cabinets into concrete, a #10 wall anchor with the 3-inch screws is necessary for each one. You’ll need to pre-drill a 0.25-inch hole for each one.

5. Begin the work in the corner.

Always start the installation work in a corner where two cabinet runs meet. It helps to remove the doors to each box before placing them. Use a level to ensure each one is straight. Once you have the placement lined up, drill a 3/16-inch pilot hole at the stud locations.

Once you have the corner unit installed, keep working outward, alternating sides, until the work is complete. You can secure each box to the next one by using 2-3 C-clamps to create a flush surface.

Don’t attach cabinets through the side panels. This step must happen at the face frame. Countersinking your screws ensures that your work has an even appearance.

6. Install the remaining cabinets.

Once you reach this step, proceed with the entire cabinet installation. Keep alternating until you finish the uppers. When all of the boxes are attached, that’s when you want to tighten all of the mounting screws.

Seat the mounting screws so that they are flush, but not into the surface of each kitchen cabinet. Verify that each box remains level after completing this work.

When you reach this stage, you’re ready to adjust your drawers and attach the doors. Most DIY’ers with some experience can finish this project over a weekend.

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