Project Guide

How to Install Base Cabinets

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Put the Cover Cabinet in Place
A man installs base cabinets in a kitchen.
  • Leave a space between the cabinet and wall as recommended by the cabinet manufacturer. Shim beneath the cabinet to align it with the top-of-cabinet line you drew on the wall. 
  • When determing how to install base cabinets on uneven floors, check for level and plumb, and add shims until the cabinets are at the same level. The corner base cabinet sets the trend for all of your other base cabinets, so take the time to do this step well. 

Tip: The toe-kick, other cabinets and counter top that you'll install later will hide your shims, so it's okay to leave them sticking out for now. 

Drill and Countersink Corner Cabinet Pilot Holes
Man uses drill to countersink pilot holes.
  • Drill one hole at each stud, through any shims. 
  • Drive screws part way into the wall. Check to make sure it's level again, shim as necessary, and drive the screws home.
Set the Neighboring Cabinet in Place
Man sets neighboring cabinets in place.
  • Install doors and drawers, verifying that they'll open. 
  • If necessary, attach a filler strip between the cabinets. You can usually order the fillers at the same time as your cabinets. 
  • Clamp the filler flush with the front of the cabinet. 
  • Drill and countersink pilot holes into the edge of the filler and screw the filler to the cabinet.
Check the Second Cabinet for Level and Plumb
Man uses level to make sure cabinets are level and plumb.
  • Shim at the floor or wall, if necessary. 
  • Begin assembling the row of base cabinets, making any cutouts for plumbing or wiring, as referenced in step 5.
Drill and Cut Wiring and Pipes
Man uses drill to cut wiring.
  • Subtract the thickness of the side of the sink cabinet and mark the pipe locations on the cabinets. 
  • Drill at the marks with a spade bit or hole saw to cut holes for the pipes.

Tip: Be sure to cut oversized holes for any plumbing or wiring. This will help you put the cabinet in place without worrying about matching the holes exactly. 

Install the Remaining Base Cabinets
A man installs cabinets.
  • Using your level, check for level and plumb, shimming as you go. 
  • When all kitchen cabinets are in position, step back and check the entire set for alignment, level and plumb before proceeding.
Drill & Countersink Remaining Pilot Holes
A person uses a drill to countersink pilot holes.
  • Attach the cabinets to the studs with at least two screws in each mounting rail, while attaching the cabinets to each other with at least four drywall screws. 
  • Once all cabinets are securely in place, trim off the exposed shims with a utility knife.
Install a Toe-Kick
A man installs a toe-kick to the bottom gap of a cabinet.
  • Nail a plain 3/4-inch filler strip in place, then attach a thinner piece that is finished to match the cabinet. 
  • Use a pneumatic brad nailer, or drill pilot holes and drive 4d finishing nails through the toe-kick into the cabinets. 
  • Now you're ready to install your doors, drawers, appliances and countertops.
Base Cabinet Installation Tips
A kitchen with light wood cabinets.

There are a few things to keep in mind when learning how to install base cabinets. Here are a few tips we recommend: 

  • Remove all cabinet doors, drawers and hardware before installing base cabinets in a kitchen. 
  • Wait to add drawers, doors and hardware until after the countertop is attached. 
  • If your wall bows out a lot, shim it before you hang the cabinet. Doing so before can help prevent damaging the wall or the back of the cabinet. 
  • As you're working your way down the wall, keep screws tight enough to hold but loose enough so that you can adjust alignment as you go. 
  • If you want to install the cabinets on your own but need a little help with countertops, our installation services can help. 

From the right supplies to kitchen cabinet installation services, we have everything to help when you're learning how to install kitchen base cabinets. Shop our wide selection and get everything you need for your projects.