DIY Network

How to Hang Kitchen Cabinets, with Some Flush to Appliances

DIY remodeling expert Paul Ryan shows how to hang kitchen cabinets, with some cabinets bumped out to be flush with appliances for a more contemporary look.

More in Kitchen

  • Time

    Several Weekends

  • Price Range

    $10,000 - $15,000

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Install Kitchen Cabinets

When the cabinets arrive on the site, take an inventory and make sure all the parts are there and intact. Be sure to check off each component from your order list.

Before putting up the new cabinets, remove the cabinet doors to make it easier to attach cabinets to each other. Label the doors with tape to match their correct location.

Mark all studs on the walls.

Unless you have intricate lower-cabinet installation, install the upper cabinets first so you don't have to lean across lower cabinets when installing. Installing the upper cabinets is a two-person job.

Starting with the corner cabinet, raise it into place and make sure it fits snugly along both vertical and horizontal surfaces. With a helper, hold the cabinet in position and slide a couple of shims under the bottom to help level it up. Hold a level on the top and sides to check for level and plumb.

Pre-drill pilot holes through the back and the cleats (Image 1) and into the studs.

Using an impact driver, secure the unit with 2" pan-head wood screws that come with the cabinets.

Line up the rest of the cabinets with the plumbed-and-leveled corner cabinet.
Screw the cabinets together through their face frames by using stainless-steel deck screws.

Lift the first unit roughly into place. One person can hold while the other clamps face frames together (Image 2).

Make adjustments with a rubber mallet until the top of the units are flush. Use a 4' level to double-check.

While one person supports the weight of the cabinet, the other will screw through the rear cleats into the studs marked on the wall with a few screws on top and bottom (Image 3).

To secure the cabinets together even further, drill pilot holes 1” to 2" from the top of the corner cabinet, and the other pilot hole 2" from the bottom of the corner cabinet. Then countersink the pilot hole to hide the head of the screw. Use a 1/4" bit with tape around it to show how deep to drill (Image 4). Run the screws (2" stainless deck screws with square drive) in.

These cabinets will surround the new refrigerator, so in order to cushion the end cabinet from the refrigerator, DIY remodeling expert Paul Ryan and the homeowners decided to add a decorative end panel (Image 5).

Use a spacer block between the side panels to diminish wiggling and to create a more solid end panel. Attach with a power nailer. Attach it the same way as the other cabinets.

Step 2: Build A Box Beam to Flush Cabinets to Appliances

In some kitchen renovations (e.g. contemporary-style), it’s necessary to attach box beams to the walls so that cabinets can sit flush with appliances. In this project, the box beam is constructed with 2” x 6”s and set just under the soffit.
For each beam, cut four lengths of 2” x 6” the length of the space on which the wall cabinets will sit.

Use strong 3" deck screws to build the box beam (Image 1). Leave the “outside” side open on each beam to be able to attach the beam to the studs in the wall.

Attach the last side (Image 2) of each box beam after you screw the beams to the wall, using the same 3" screws as before.

Install one box beam for the top cabinets and one for the bottom

Step 3: Hang the Flush Cabinets

Once the box beams are up, attach the cabinets for this wall. But since the soffit may not be level, the cabinets need to be hung as one unit. This means the cabinets have to be attached to each other first, then lifted and attached to the wall. Once again, this is a two- or three-person job.

Insert shims between the cabinet bodies where necessary to eliminate any gaps.

Use your quick clamps to hold the units together (Image 1), and make adjustments as needed to flush the fronts and the tops and attach the units through the shims using 1-1/4" screws. Score the shims with a utility knife and knock the excess off with a rubber mallet.

Use a T-brace, which can be as simple as two boards nailed together (Image 2) to hold the cabinets up as you make sure the cabinets are plumb and flush with the wall. Use shims as needed.

Work along the kitchen, securing the cabinets to the box beams and to the walls through the cleats and into the studs using 3" screws.

Step 4: Create a Center Kitchen Island with Modular Cabinets

You can create any configuration you desire by ordering the specific modular cabinets needed. The kitchen island in this project is simply a collection of modular cabinets attached together to create the island configuration (Image 1). Plywood and granite slabs are laid on top of the center island cabinets.

Simply attach the cabinets the same way the other cabinets are attached: clamp together, screw each unit to one another. Check for plumb and level at every step.

Once the modular cabinets are attached in the configuration desired, you can move the island unit into place. Secure the island after the countertop and stovetop are installed (Image 2).