Installing Light Rail Cabinet Molding-Flush or Recessed
The number one question about installing special trim to hide the lighting fixtures on kitchen cabinets is does the light rail get installed flush with the face of the cabinetry or should it get set back? Professional installers usually attach the molding so that it leaves a slight recess from the face of the cupboards.
This set back is applied to the front edges of the cabinetry and also the side areas. There are a couple of locations in the kitchen where this technique does not apply though. For instance, when you are installing the light valance boards next to the microwave/hood area, it is best to attach them flush with the side of the cabinets. I would not recess the trim pieces more than one quarter of an inch. Anywhere from a sixteenth to a quarter of an inch is fine.
Method of Installing Lighting valance Boards
Obviously your going to need a chop saw, there are no exceptions to this rule. If you want your kitchen cabinet molding to look professional installed it, then you must use the correct woodworking tools. There are only a few steps to the method that I use for installing the lighting rail. Most importantly, you must take your time and be patient. Having tight seams is a top priority when you are installing the valance boards.
How to Install Light Rail Cabinet Molding
Here is how to cut and install the light rail. This method works great every time. This cabinet molding is not difficult to work with because it is small. You must use a chop saw when you are cutting the light rail or a good table saw. NEVER attempt to make your miter cuts with a hand saw. You will only ruin the decorative kitchen molding.
1) Always cut your largest pieces first. If you can work on the longest piece first by cutting the necessary angles, this is best. That way if you mess up you can use the long piece for shorter sections.
2) Use clamps to hold the molding in place while you fit the seams perfectly.
3) Once you have a couple of pieces ready to attach to the cabinets, clamp them really well and pre-drill holes from the inside of the cabinets bottoms. Make sure that you countersink the screw head so that it is flush with the cabinet bottom or frame. If you’re working with hardwoods like maple or oak be careful not to tighten the screws so tight that you snap them off. I usually get the screws good and snug with my electric or cordless drill and then use a hand screwdriver to tighten the final turn off the screw head.
4) Use yellow glue on the miter joints when you are installing pieces of the light rail. There is no need to glue the valance pieces to the bottom of the cabinets. The screws will hold the boards good and secure.
5) To secure the finished end return pieces it will be necessary to add a cleat onto the light valance molding so that you have something to secure it to the bottom of the cabinet with. I have actually used 2” x 2” L-brackets for this part of the light rail installation.
6) It may be necessary to add small shims in various places so that the miter joints align properly.
7) Once all of the light valance boards are fastened use caulking or a wood putty stick to fill the miter joint seams.
Light rails should always allow no less than 1-3/8” of recessed void area underneath the kitchen cupboards. The smallest under cabinet lighting fixture that you can get is about one inch in height. The additional three eights of an inch, created by the size of the molding, will help hide the florescent tubes. There really is not a standard size that the light rail valance should be. In most custom cabinetry shops that I have worked in the sizes seemed to fall between one and three eights inches to two and a half inches.
* Always take your time when cutting the light rail pieces. There’s not reason to hurry during this critical part of your kitchen cabinet installation.
* When installing the molding onto the bottom of the upper cabinets, pay particular attention to the fact that the pieces are basically right in your face when working at the counter top.
* Always recess the light rail molding. It should never be installed flush with the cabinet bottom. The only time that it should be flush with anything is when the molding is designed to be flush with the doors. In such cases, you “must” install the cupboards perfectly plumb, level and square. You should do this anyway.
Installing your own cabinet molding can be challenging if you don’t have the proper tools. Do not attempt to install the light rail without the correct tools. Your kitchen cabinets need to look like a professional installed them.