Kitchen Cabinet Installation Guide Chapter 1


Extra time spent preparing for your cabinet install will save you time and ensure a professional look. Before starting, review your design plan and take one last inventory of your cabinets.

Review our installation guide (PDF on our site) that lists all tools, materials and fasteners needed to complete your project. If you’re replacing flooring, we recommend replacement before installing cabinetry. If that’s not possible, measure the thickness of your new flooring and include that dimension to determine the correct installation height of your cabinetry.

To insure against injury, make sure that all water supplies, gas lines, and electrical circuit breakers are shut off. Double check electrical circuits using a circuit tester to confirm that the power is off. If you’re uncertain the utilities are properly shut off, please consult your local utility company or a service professional.

It’s essential to use the proper screws to install cabinets. Under no circumstances use nails or drywall screws, as they don’t have the strength or holding power to ensure that cabinets stay on the wall and may void the warranty. We recommend number 8 x 2-1/2-inch trim screws to secure cabinets to the wall and to each other. Installation detailed in this video is for wood stud construction only. Attachment to other surface materials, such as concrete block, brick, stucco, steel studs, or poured concrete requires special fasteners. Consult with your local hardware store or installation professional for recommended fasteners.

Your floor will have some uneven areas. Locate the highest point in the floor: place a level, or a long straight edge, on the floor at the base of the wall and move around the perimeter of the wall areas that will receive cabinetry until you locate the high point. Mark this location for reference. Repeat this process at a point 21-1/2″ away from the wall (the cabinet toe kick area), and compare the toe kick high point to the wall high point. Use is higher for the next step.

If your flooring is already installed, measure up from the highest point 34-1/2″ and draw a level line around the perimeter of walls to receive cabinetry. This is the base line to which you will align the top of the base cabinets. If you will be installing new flooring later, you must add the flooring thickness to 34-1/2″ to establish your base cabinet level line. Now, measure up from the original high point 54″ and draw a level line around perimeter that will receive wall cabinets. You will align the bottom of the wall cabinets to this line.

Locate the wall studs with a stud finder and mark their locations. Use a long straight edge and a carpenter’s level to check walls for any uneven spots. High spots should be removed by sanding or scraping and low spots should be shimmed.

Attach a furring strip below the wall-cabinet bottom-level line. This temporary ledger rail will help support the weight of the wall cabinets during installation and ensure that the cabinets are level. If your design includes staggered height wall cabinets, several ledger rails may be required.

When your space is ready for installation, organize your cabinets in the order in which they will be installed. Before installation, remove all of doors, drawers and shelves to prevent damage to the cabinets during installation. Mark each part and each cabinet, so you know which cabinet each part came from.

Begin your installation with wall cabinets so you don’t have to reach over the base cabinets to install the upper cabinets.