10 Kitchen Cabinet Tips

DIY experts share 10 things you should know about installing cabinetry.

Removing the Old Cabinets

remove old kitchen cabinets

Don't take off the wall with the old cabinets. There's often more than just screws holding the kitchen cabinets to the wall. Take time and find every screw and use a utility knife to take any caulk off the edges.

An Efficient Installation

install the wall cabinets first

For first-time installers, it's ideal to go in order. Start with the wall cabinets and then move down to the base. Starting at the top will prevent anything from getting in the way. Also, start at a corner. It will save time and frustration.

Remove the Doors and Drawers

remove doors and drawers from cabinets

Strip down the cabinets before putting them up. Usually the cabinets will come already installed with the drawers and doors attached. It might seem counterproductive to take them off, but it will make the cabinets lighter, easier to handle and more available to screw together. Just make sure that to mark every drawer and door to match the original cabinet it was attached to.

Support the Weight of the Cabinet

Use wood to help support weight of cabinets

Use a cleat and save the back. Installing kitchen cabinets is usually a two-person project, but using a 1x3 or 1x2 piece of wood to support the weight of the cabinets helps push the cabinet back. Even though it can fall forward, it's not slipping and sliding all over the wall.

Use a Small Finished Nail

use small finished nail to install cabinets

Nail the studs, every time. Make sure to find the studs before beginning the installation. Using a nail is quite commonly the easiest way to do it, especially if it's behind the cabinets. Make a little hole in the wall behind the cabinets for the small finished nail being used.

A Cabinet Plan

know layout of kitchen

Plan the cabinets around the kitchen. Before ordering new cabinets, identify the existing appliances. Know where the plumbing, sink, gas, stove, electrical outlets, refrigerator and the microwave fit in. All these things become very important prior to the installation of the new cabinets.

The Microwave Outlet

install outlet in cabinet for microwave

Get on top of the microwave installation. Put the receptacle in a cabinet above the microwave so when fitting the microwave, you're not trying to plug it in. Make sure to have a contractor install an outlet in the cabinet above the microwave.

A Benchmark Level

use benchmark to help level cabinets

Start high and stay level. Start leveling from the highest point in the floor and use a benchmark. A benchmark is a horizontal line that travels around the perimeter of the kitchen. It could be at any given height, but it's basically a level line, which can be measured from and to for the base and wall cabinets.

Cabinet Shims

use shims to level cabinets

Shims are needed if you want level cabinets. Shims are something are important to purchase prior to installing. Shims are used to keep the cabinets in a straight line, especially if there's a bow in the wall. Shims go from zero thickness to about 3/8 of an inch.

A Cabinet Filler Piece

correct gaps in between wall and cabinet

Don't sweat the little gaps. All cabinets come with a scribe, or filler piece, for where the kitchen cabinets meet the wall. Most walls are not straight and this allows for a neat finish where any contours in the wall are taken up. Also, a scribe piece keeps the drawers and doors a little away from the wall, so all of the moving parts in the kitchen don't touch the wall.

Extra Tips:

Hinges, knobs and drawer slides should be of excellent quality. Get durable hardware because with moving parts, they wear down with time. Having a better quality part will ensure a longer life.

Complete the installation with laziness. A 'Lazy Susan' can add accessibility to those hard to reach items in the corner cabinets. A Lazy Susan is a turntable that's installed in a kitchen cabinet that rotates to allow easy access to everything in the cabinet.
Beware of staples. Staples will pull apart. Get cabinets with thick panels that have been corner blocked and glued, or fastened with screws.

Next Up

Stories We're Following

Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

More DIY Social

Discover Made + Remade