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Kitchen Catch-Up: How to Install Cabinets

Installing kitchen cabinets is a great way to save money on a kitchen renovation.

More in Kitchen

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  • Time

    Several Weekends

  • Price Range

    $5,000 - $10,000

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard


Step 1: Mark the Studs

Take out all cabinet drawers and remove all cabinet doors, marking them as you go. This will lighten the cabinets for easier installation.

Find and mark all the studs. Then, measure from the ceiling and make a line where the cabinets will be placed.

Cabinet Installation Tips:
- Hang the upper cabinets first so the lower ones won’t be in the way during installation.
- It’s a good idea to work in pairs with this project, as cabinets can be heavy.
- Use a ledger board to help hang the upper cabinets and keep them straight.
- Mark your studs before you get started.

ledger board used to keep cabinets level

Step 2: Insert Screws for the First Cabinet

Level line and screw a ledger board along it. Lift the cabinet into place, and if someone is helping you (recommended) have them help you hold it steady (Image 1).

Sink two screws into each stud behind the cabinet, one on top and one on bottom. This ensures the cabinet is secured (Image 2). If a cabinet only falls across one stud, use a toggle bolt as an additional fastener.

Step 3: Install the Sink Cabinet

Next, tackle the sink cabinet, which is often the toughest cabinet to install. First, measure the plumbing area and mark where holes need to be cut. Cut along the marks (Image 1) and lift the cabinet into place carefully (Image 2).

Adjust the cabinet to meet flush with the other cabinets using a level and shims (Image 3). Use quick clamps to secure them into place.

Step 4: Secure the Remaining Cabinets

Pre-drill holes along where the cabinets will be attached together. Sink a screw into those holes.

Put shims in the space between the wall and the sink cabinet, along the stud lines (Image 1). Sink drywall screws into the wall, through the shims, securing the cabinet to the wall (Image 2).

Often there are gaps where the cabinets meet the wall, preserve these gaps because walls are often uneven, so the gaps keep the front of the cabinets flush and will be covered later by the countertop.

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