Do It Yourself Cabinet Installation

Do-it-yourself cabinet installations can either be easy or very difficult. You will need some basic tools: Accurate 2 and 4 foot levels, a power drill with bits up to ¼-inch in diameter, several squeeze clamps and rubber stoppers, a power screw gun, and a belt sander. You may also need bigger tools such as a table saw or other power saws to cut and trim lumber or filler strips.

Materials

Your Cabinets may come with screws but if not you will need 2 ½ and 3 inch round head screws or follow the instructions from the manufacturer. The standard height from the floor for a wall cabinet is 54in, draw horizontal chalk lines marking this height. You will need to find your wall studs, studs are spaced out at regular intervals. Most common studs are 16in apart, although sometimes in newer houses they are 24in apart. Draw vertical chalk lines marking either the center or the edges of the stud.

What should I install first?

It is easier to install wall cabinets before installing base cabinets. If you install your base cabinets first then you have to reach over them and worry about scratching them. Removing the cabinet doors while hanging your wall cabinets will make the cabinet lighter, and prevents damage to the doors, hinges and cabinet frames.

The most difficult part about hanging wall cabinets is lifting them to the right height and getting them to stay there, this makes hanging wall cabinets a 2-person job. Wall cabinets must me mounted so that they can hold heavy dishes. The screws used for wall cabinets will need to penetrate at least 1 ½ in into the center of the wall studs, so you will need 3 in screws.

Install a corner wall cabinet or end wall cabinet first, and make sure it is level. Drill 3/16-in pilot holes through the top-hanging strip inside the cab into the wall stud. Drive 3in screws into the pilot holes. Position next cabinet, snug and level against the first. Clamp together face frames of neighbor cabinets, counter-bore 2 ½ in drywall screws through the inside edge of face frame to the other. Install remaining wall cabinets the same way. Apply trim using finishing nails to cover gaps between the backs of cabinets and wall.

Installing Base Cabinets

Once you are finished with the wall cabinets start on the base cabinets. If you plan to install vinyl flooring, do that before you install the base cabinets. If you plan to install tile, marble, or wood flooring use a piece of plywood the same thickness as the new flooring, lay the plywood underneath the cabinets to serve as a height barrier. Make sure your studs are marked for the base cabinets too.

These cabinets must be level side to side and front to back. If your floor is not level you can use wood shims and tap them under the low points. Always start with either a corner or end cabinet. Drill pilot holes into a stud, drive 2 ½ in screws through the cabinet framing into the stud.

Once your cabinet is level and securely in place you can remove any wood shims using a hammer and chisel. Position next cabinet, snug and level against the first, and repeat. Install remaining wall cabinets the same way. Clamp together face frames of neighbor cabinets, counter-bore 2 ½ in drywall screws through the inside edge of face frame to the other. Repeat to install the rest of the base cabinets. Complete the job by installing molding or filler strips to cover any gaps between the counter and the walls or floor.