How to Install Base Cabinets


Upgrade your kitchen’s appearance and storage space by installing base cabinets

Base Cabinets

Base kitchen cabinets are a storage staple in every home, and something you can install on your own with some time and plenty of careful planning.

Get your kitchen started with wall cabinets (if applicable), before installing base cabinets. Just like with wall kitchen cabinets, start in a corner, mark your reference lines and then work your way around the room. This guide will teach you how to install base cabinets following these steps.


Put the corner cabinet in place
Put corner cabinet - Install Base Cabinets

• 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.
• Check for level and plumb, and add additional shims as necessary. The corner cabinet sets the trend for all of your other base cabinets, so take the time to this step well.

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

Drill Countersink Pilot Holes - Install Base Cabinets

• Drill one hole at each stud, through any shims.
• Drive screws partway into the wall. Check for level again, shim as necessary, and drive the screws home.

Set the neighboring cabinet in place
Set neighboring cabinet - Install Base Cabinets

• 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
Check the second cabinet - Install Base Cabinets

• Shim at the floor or wall if necessary.
• Begin assembling the row of base cabinets, making any cutouts for plumbing or wiring, as in Step Five.

Drill and cut holes for wiring and pipes
Drill holes for wiring - Install Base Cabinets

• 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.

Install the remaining base cabinets
Install remaining base cabinets - Install Base Cabinets

• Check for level and plumb, shimming as you go.
• When all cabinets are in position, step back and check the entire set for alignment, level and plumb before proceeding.

Drill & countersink the pilot holes
Countersink the pilot holes - Install Base Cabinets

• 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 to cover the gap along the bottom
Install toe-kick to cover - Install Base Cabinets

• 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.