How to Install Wall Cabinets

Increase your storage space and improve your kitchen’s appearance with wall cabinets


Wall cabinets free up counter space and improve the look of your kitchen. This guide will walk you through the process of installation.

• Start by removing all the cabinet doors and drawers -- they only make the unit heavier and easier to damage.
• To make sure the cabinets are properly positioned, begin with a corner unit.
• Once the wall cabinets are up, install the base cabinets. Unlike the wall cabinets, which you install one at a time, you'll put all of the base cabinets in place and double-check everything before screwing anything to the wall.

What You'll Need

Install the upper cabinet ledger
upper cabinet ledger - Install Wall Cabinets

• 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 corner wall cabinet
corner wall cabinet - Install Wall Cabinets

• 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
Install next cabinet - Install Wall 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 cabinets together. Check for level and plumb, and shim between the wall and cabinet as necessary.

Drill holes for connectors
Drill holes connectors - Install Wall Cabinets

• On frameless cabinets, drill the holes for connectors.
• Screw the cabinets together. On framed cabinets, drill holes for 1 ¼-inch drywall screws in the recesses for the hinges to hide them.

Drill and countersink pilot holes
Drill and countersink - Install Wall Cabinets

• 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 ½-inch cabinet screws through the holes and into the studs.

Drill and countersink pilot holes
Install remaining cabinets - Install Wall Cabinets

• 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
Apply moulding - Install Wall Cabinets

• 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
Cut filler strips - Install Wall Cabinets

• 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
Install valance - Install Wall Cabinets

• 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.