Now that you have your new kitchen cabinets, you are ready to move on to the next big step.....Installing your kitchen cabinets. While the actual installation of the Kitchen Cabinets isn'tall that hard, the critical first step is measuring and marking out where the cabinets will go. By placing layout markings on the walls and floors, it will not only help you with kitchen cabinet placement and stud locations, but it will also help you locate where adjustments and shims will be required. Before we get started there are a couple of items that you will need for the project:
Level or Laser Level
1" x 3" Piece of lumber (6'-8' in length) or an Inverted U-shaped frame (see notes below)
Screws (long enough to go 1 1/2 into the studs)
Utility knife or chisel
An extra set of hands (you may have to bribe one of your friends)
As I mentioned above, you have the option of using a piece of 1' x 3' lumber for the installation or building a frame to support the cabinets (I have included a picture of a sample frame below). This can be made out of 2' x 4's and should be tall enough to support the bottom of your wall cabinets. If you plan on installing more than one kitchen, then I would suggest the frame, but a piece of lumber will do just fine if this is a one time event. In either case, you will need another set of hands to help with the installation.
In this case we bought (RTA) Ready-To-Assemble Kitchen Cabinets from RTA Kitchen & Bathroom Cabinet Store. Now the kitchen cabinets are assembled, we are ready to start marking out our layout lines. Some people start with the base cabinets, but we are going to start with the wall cabinets first. There is no right or wrong way to start, I just prefer to start with the upper cabinets first.
1. Use a level and a pencil to draw a parallel line across the wall about 3 inches up from the floor. Measure down from this line, to the floor, and find the floors high point (if it has one), and mark a line at that point. From that high point, Measure up 34 1/2 inches and draw a level line across the wall to designate the top of the base cabinets.
2. Now that you have the top of the base cabinets marked, measure up another 19 1/2 inches and a level line across the wall to indicate the bottom of the wall cabinets. Lightly mark each cabinets' dimensions and placement on the wall to make sure that your original layout is correct.
3. Use a stud finder to locate the wall studs. Use a pencil to mark the stud locations at least 6 inches above and below the line for the bottom of the wall cabinets. Draw straight vertical lines between the top and bottom marks to indicate the center of the studs.
4. If you decided to go with the piece of 1' x 3' lumber, now is where you will use (if you decided to go with the U-shaped frame, it will come into play after all your lines are laid out). Screw a temporary 1' x 3' support rail to the wall, aligning the top edge of the rail with the line for the bottom edge of the wall cabinets. Attach it by driving 3 or 4 two inch screws through the rail into the wall studs.
5. Now that we have all the lines marked, it is time to start installing your kitchen cabinets. We are going to start with the corner cabinet (here is where your helper's extra set of hands will be needed). Place the corner cabinet onto the temporary support rail and have your helper hold the corner cabinet in place. Drill pilot holes through the sturdy cabinet back or its support rail and into the wall studs. Screw the cabinet into the wall using two screws that are long enough to penetrate the studs by at least 1 1/2 inches. Check the top of the cabinet for level and the front of the cabinet for plumb. If you have to correct the position, just back the screws out a little bit and top shims behind the cabinet at the stud locations. If it is plumb and level, drive the screws all the way in and add several more into each stud to ensure that the cabinet is secured tightly to the wall.
6. Now we are going to move onto the cabinets on either side of the corner cabinet. As you install each one, use the clamps to secure each cabinet to the neighboring cabinet and then check it for plumb with your level. On faceframe cabinets, it is a good idea to drill two 1/8 inch pilot holes through the sides of the faceframe and use screws. In this case, with frameless, ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets we are going to screw through the plywood sides and use shims in between the cabinets to ensure a tight fit and make sure that the cabinet faces are plumb.
7. After all the wall cabinets are in place, install the corner or end base case cabinet. Use shims where needed to level the cabinet and raise it up to the line which indicates the high point of the floor. Be sure it is level from front to back and from side to side, then screw it to the wall studs. If you don't have a diagonal corner cabinet or blind base cabinet in the corner, push the adjoining cabinet into place and clamp the two units together. Add a filler strip if needed to allow the doors and drawers enough clearance to open and close properly. If necessary, tap shims under the cabinet and behind it to adjust for plumb and level.
8. Drive screws through the cabinet back (and shims) into the wall studs. Trim any excess material from the shims with a sharp chisel or knife. Continue to add adjoining cabinets in this manner, joining them the same way you connected the wall cabinets in step 6.
9. If your cabinets end up butting against another wall, you may need a filler strip to make up the last few inches. If you have custom cabinets, they should have been built to fill this gap, but if you are using stock or RTA Kitchen Cabinets the filler strip may be needed. If you do need to use a filler strip, leave the last cabinet detached from the other cabinets. Clamp a straightedge to the face of the nearest installed unit, extending far enough for you to put alignment marks on the end wall. Allow a 3/4" offset behind those marks (for the thickness of the filler piece) and fasten a cleat to the wall. Then install and fasten the last cabinet and measure the gap between its face frame and the wall.
If the wall is flat, simply rip the filler board to the required width and fasten it in place. If the wall is irregular, you'll have to scribe-fit the filler board. Start by setting a marking compass to the width of the gap, then place a strip of 1"-wide masking tape along the filler board in the area where it needs to be trimmed. Clamp the board to the end cabinet's face frame, then trace the wall contour with the compass. Remove the board and cut along the scribe line with a jig saw, then reinstall it to check the fit. When it's right, drive screws through the adjacent face frame into the edge of the filler board. Screw or nail the other side to the cleat.
At this point, your kitchen cabinet installation is complete. If you purchased matching crown molding or any other details, these should be easily installed now. Depending on whether you had to use shims under the base cabinets, you may have to install some trim pieces by the toe kicks to cover up the shims or any gaps at the bottom of the kitchen cabinets.
I hope this helps make your kitchen cabinet installation as smooth as possible. If you need any help with cabinet selection, kitchen layout tips, or ideas for cabinet styles, check out RTA Kitchen & Bathroom Cabinet Store