Project Guide

How to Install Wall Cabinets

Install the Upper Cabinet Ledger
A person installs a ledger board with a drill.
  • Create a line using the chalk line that runs the bottom length of the wall cabinets.
  • Temporarily drive a couple of long screws into the studs along the line marking the bottom of the upper cabinets to help support them while you're installing.

Tip: Some installers screw a board, called a ledger, along the entire length of the wall to hold the cabinets. The ledger works as long as the wall is flat and plumb. If it's not, you'll need to shim behind the cabinets to align them, and the ledger would get in the way.

Start With a Corner Wall Cabinet
A person drills screws into a wall cabinet and makes sure that its level.
  • Place the cabinet on the screws or ledger. If the cabinet isn't plumb, slip shims between the cabinet and wall at the stud lines and adjust as necessary.
  • Drill and countersink two holes in each of the mounting rails inside the cabinet and drive 2 1⁄2-inch cabinet screws through the holes.
  • Check to make sure the cabinet is level front to back as well as side to side.
Install Next Cabinet and Clamp
Two people work to clamp two wall cabinets together.
  • With a helper, rest the neighboring cabinet on the screw or ledger and line up the front with the cabinet you just installed.
  • Clamp the two cabinets together. Check for level and plumb, and shim between the wall and cabinet as necessary.
Drill Holes for Connectors
A person drills a connector hole between two wall cabinets.
  • On frameless cabinets, drill the holes for connectors.
  • Screw the cabinets together. On framed cabinets, drill holes for 1 1/4-inch drywall screws in the recesses for the hinges to hide them.
Drill and Countersink Pilot Holes
A person drills a cabinet screw.
  • Drill and countersink two pilot holes through each of the mounting rails, centering the holes over the studs. (On some wall cabinets, the mounting rails are inside the cabinet. On others, they are hidden in back.)
  • Drive 2 1/2-inch cabinet screws through the holes and into the studs.
Hang the Remaining Cabinets
A person uses a utility knife to trim visible shims.
  • Hang the rest of the cabinets the way you hung the first ones, checking for level and plumb as you go.
  • Once all the wall cabinets are in place, remove the ledger screws or holding screws you installed in Step 1.
  • Trim any visible shims flush with the cabinet using a utility knife.
Apply Moulding if Needed
A person attaches moulding to a wall cabinet.
  • If you have a slight gap between the back of the last cabinet and the wall, cover it with strip of moulding.
  • Cut a piece as long as the cabinet; stain and finish it to match.
  • Nail it in place with a brad gun, and fill the holes with a putty made by the cabinet manufacturer to match the cabinet finish.
Cut Filler Strips if Needed
A person attaches a filler strip to a wall cabinet.
  • If you have a gap between the side of the cabinet and an end wall or appliance, cut a filler strip to close it.
  • The cabinet manufacturer usually sells these strips.
  • Scribe the strip with a compass and cut along the line with a jig saw.
  • Slip the strip in place and attach it with drywall screws.
Install Valance
A person attaches a valance to a wall cabinet with a drill.
  • A valance is a decorative piece that connects two wall cabinets above a sink. 
  • Have someone help you hold the valance in position.
  • Drill and countersink pilot holes into the side of the cabinets on each side, and attach the valance with drywall screws.