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Installing Kitchen Cabinets

This DIY Basic will provide tips on how to install kitchen cabinets.

More in Kitchen

Step 1: Watch an Overview Video

Step 2: Prep the Area

Start by checking walls and floors for uneven spots and mark highs and lows. Use a combination square or right-angled piece of wood to check the square of each corner.

Using the highest point on the floor, measure up the wall to locate and mark the top of the cabinets.

Tip: 30-inch wall cabinets should top out at 83 7/8 inches from the floor, 39-inch cabinets at 92 5/8 inches.

Measure 2 1/2 inches down from the top mark and mark the level of the suspension rail. Using a laser level draw and mark lines for cabinet tops and rail.

Locate and mark all wall studs.

Step 3: Install the Wall Cabinets

Using a hack saw, cut the suspension rail 1/4 inch shorter than the combined length of the wall cabinets.

Slide the suspension rail hardware into the rail before putting it up. Screw the suspension rail to the wall studs.

Tip: If the wall bows more than 1/4 inch, shim the suspension rail until straight. If the end of the suspension rail falls between two studs, secure it with a heavy duty anchor.

Hang a corner cabinet first or one that fits against both back and side walls.

Attach the first cabinet to the suspension rail. Secure the cabinet loosely so you can adjust the level when all cabinets are hung.

Hang the remaining cabinets, using each previous cabinet as a guide.

Tip: Use C-clamps to hold adjacent cabinets in place temporarily. Place a small scrap of wood between the clamp and cabinet surface to prevent scarring.

Screw adjacent cabinets together.

Make final adjustments and tighten all mounting hardware.

Step 4: Install the Base Cabinets

Using the highest point of the floor, measure up 4 5/16 inches and draw a level line on the wall. From this line, measure up 34 1/2 inches and draw another level line.

Cut wall strips the length of the base cabinets and attach them to wall studs. If the end of a strip falls between studs, attach it with a mooring screw or expansion bolt.

Using the wall strip as support, install a corner cabinet or one that fits against back and side walls less the filler distance.

Level each cabinet by adjusting the legs.

Secure the first cabinet in place and install the rest of the base cabinets as you did the wall cabinets.

Install filler pieces with the cut edge against the wall. Screw the filler pieces in place from inside the cabinets. If the wall is not level and flat, cut the filler piece to conform to the wall’s shape. Caulk around the filler pieces.

Tip: To smooth caulk, daub your finger into 3-in-1 oil, then run your finger along the seam.

Using a miter box, cut and install cornices and molding.

Step 5: Add the Finishing Touches

Install the countertops and sink.

Install shelving, doors and drawers.

Install knobs and handles.

Tip: Use a template to make sure handles are in the same place on every door.

Cut the toe kick to size. Use toe kick clips to attach the toe kick to the base cabinet legs.

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