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Installing new wall cabinets in your kitchen is an advanced project, but following these steps can save you the cost of hiring a professional. This guide reviews how to install wall cabinets and give your kitchen a makeover. Keep in mind, it's easier to install upper cabinets prior to installing the base cabinets.
Prepare for the Install
Before installing your wall cabinets, make a plan and prep the area. Here are a few things to do before hanging cabinets.
- First, locate the highest point in your floor using your level. Then, using your tape measure, measure up from the floor about 48-inches and use a pencil to mark. Then, using your level, trace a line along the wall.
- Next, outline where the first cabinet will hang. Start with the corner cabinet and measure up from the line you drew to the height of the cabinet.
- Label the location of the kitchen wall cabinets and appliances on the wall. Draw a vertical line to line up the edge of the first cabinet to be installed. Finally, mark the stud locations.
Tip: A general rule to follow when determining the best height to hang cabinets is to keep 8- or 9-feet high. This means, they should be hung so that the bottom edge is 54-inches from the ground.
Install the Upper Cabinet Ledger
Installing upper cabinets starts with answering the question: how are kitchen cabinets attached to the wall? Typically this is done by using a stud finder to locate studs and by drilling wood screws through drywall to attach the cabinet.
- Begin this process by creating a line using the chalk line that runs the bottom length of the cabinets.
- Temporarily drive a couple of long screws into the studs along the line, marking the bottom of the upper kitchen cabinets to help support them while you're installing.
Tip: Consider removing drawers and taking doors and hardware off of cabinets prior to install to prevent damage.
Start with a Corner Wall Cabinet
- Place the corner wall 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.
Tip: Whether installing ready-to-assemble cabinets or having custom cabinets installed, be sure to check measurements prior to hanging.
Install Next Cabinet and Clamp
- One of the most important parts of learning how to hang cabinets is to have a helper to lift and support your kitchen cabinets.
- 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 wall cabinets together. Check for level and plumb, and shim between the wall and cabinet as necessary.
Drill Holes for Connectors
- 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
- 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
- Hang the rest of the cabinets the way you hung the first ones, checking for level and plumb as you go.
- Once you've reached the end, you may need to install an end panel to cover any exposed sides.
- 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 and Cut Filler Strips
- If you have a slight gap between the back of the last cabinet and the wall, cover it with a 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.
- 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 filler strip in place and attach it with drywall screws.
- You may need to stain or paint the filler strip to match the cabinets. Be sure to use a touch-up kit for any issues.
Install a Valance
- 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.
Learning how to hang wall cabinets can be done safely with the right supplies and step-by-step instructions. We have everything you need to begin installing wall cabinets including cabinet installation services and cabinet refacing services.