DIY Network

How to Install Upper and Lower Cabinets

The Kitchen Renovations team demonstrates how to install upper cabinets, set in toe-kick platforms and install lower cabinets.

More in Kitchen

dated kitchen is renovated into spacious space
  • Time

    Several Weekends

  • Price Range

    $1,000 - $2,500

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard


Step 1: Protect the Floor

To protect the floor while working, cover it with house wrap first and then lay down 1/4" Masonite sheets. Simply cut them to size and then lay them out and tape them together to prevent shifting while working.

protect floor with masonite sheets

Step 2: Measure and Hang a Ledger Board

Measure where the bottom of the upper cabinets will be. Shoot a laser line across the wall and mark several spots.

Hang a ledger board along the line to support the upper cabinets during installation -- make sure to screw it into the studs in the wall.

support upper cabinets with ledger board

Step 3: Install the Upper Cabinets

Place the first cabinet on the ledger and attach it to the studs in the wall with cabinet screws. If it's difficult to get at the back of the cabinet, use a long bit extension to drive in the cabinet screws.

For especially heavy pieces, a special cabinet lift called a "T-Jack" can be used to help hold the cabinets at the proper height until the screws go in.

installing heavy upper cabinets

Step 4: Secure the Toe-Kick Platform

The factory custom cabinets come with a separate toe-kick platform rather than being built into the cabinets. Use filler strips to go under the back of the cabinets instead of expensive flooring. Set in the toe kick and use shims to level it side-to-side and front to back. Screw the toe-kick platform into the studs in the wall.

Set the cabinet on the platform. Screw the cabinet into both the platform and the wall. Set the next toe-kick platform in place and level it, using shims.

set in toe kick and use shims to level it

Step 5: Install the Lower Cabinets

To attach "mock" legs that give the cabinets a furniture look -- set the cabinet on its back and clamp the legs in place in a 3/4" reveal in front and flush on the top. Screw the legs in place and set the cabinet back in position and install.

attach mock legs to give cabinets furniture look

Step 6: Add Filler Strips

For filler strips, measure the width needed and rip it to size on a table saw. Put masking tape on the face of the wood to prevent it from being scratched. Slide the filler strip into the gap, drill a pilot hole with a countersink bit and screw the filler strip in place.