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How to Install Kitchen Cabinets

Follow the steps below to ensure an efficient and accurate installation of your upper cabinets.

Tools & Materials

Standard                                                                                                                                  Shims & Wood Shingles

Tape Measures                                                                                                                          Drywall Screws

Pens, Pencils & Markers                                                                                                              Assembled Kitchen Cabinets

Power Drills

Screwdriver Sets

Twist Drill Bits

Chalk Reels & Chalk

Pry & Wrecking Bar Sets

Claw Hammers

Stud Finders

Preparing to Installing Cabinets

Step 1

Start by attaching a straight 1-by-4 ledger level on the wall at the 54-inch line. A ledger is a board that helps support the cabinetry as you work.

Step 2

Begin your installation with a corner cabinet, or from the far left if you don’t have a corner unit. Using the outline you created on the wall, measure the distance from the cabinet edge to the stud and transfer this to the cabinet. Remember to account for the face frame.

Strep 3

Drill holes through the cabinet backs at the top, middle and bottom rails. Your top and bottom holes should be about 3/4 inch from the cabinet’s edge. Do this step for each unit.

Step 4

Set the cabinet in place and drive the mounting screws into the wall. Don’t over-tighten the screws. Tighten just enough to hold the cabinet in place.

Step 5​

Check that the cabinet is level and plumb. Shim behind the cabinet if needed.

Step 6

Set the second cabinet into position and line up the faces so that they’re even at the bottom and across the front. Clamp the cabinets together and drive screws into the back – again, just tight enough to hold the cabinet in place for now. Use shims in the back to make it plumb.

Step 7

Keep the faces even and use a countersink/taper bit to drill through the face frames and connect with the cabinet screws.

Step 8

Continue the process until you reach the end of the row, continually checking that the faces and edges are even and level.

Step 9

When you get to the end of the row, you may have a space between the cabinet and the wall. Use filler strips to fill the gap.

Step 10

Measure the gap at the top and the bottom and cut your filler strip to fit. For uneven walls, clamp the filler strip to the outside of the cabinet face. Use a compass to scribe a line that follows the contours of the wall. Cut the piece along the line at a 7- to 10-degree bevel to help fit it against the wall.

Step 11

Once all the cabinets are connected, drive in the rear screws and remove the clamps.

Step 12

Remove the ledger board and touch up any wall damage.

Step 13

If you’re installing crown molding, attach it with finish nails, then hang the doors, adjusting the hinges according to the manufacturer’s instructions for keeping the doors even.