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How to Fix Upper Cabinets Sagging or Dropping From the Ceiling

January 6th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Throughout the many years that I have been in the repair business,  it has been necessary to learn how to fix upper (or, “wall”) cabinets that are sagging from the ceiling. Drooping boxes usually need to be unloaded in order for them to be fixed.  If the cabinetry was  not installed correctly,  this could be the reason for the problem.

Sometimes installers get in a hurry and skip certain steps that could prevent them from falling down and creating gaps that are too large to fill with caulking. Because they avoid placing screws in the proper place, this is why cabinets drop from soffits. It is quit possible, but not likely that the screws on the back wall missed the sud and the box is leaning forward. Unless an armature or “do it yourself” home owner installed them.  Usually what has happened is there were no cabinet installation screws placed in the top of the cabinets to anchor them to the ceiling or soffit.

Although I have to admit, there have been times when the actual back of the unit was pulling away from the sides and top of the box. Whenever this has been the case, the evidence was noticeable on the inside of the boxes.  Every situation is going to be different. Careful examination will help determine what the problem is.

  • Tip: If the cabinetry parts are separating from one another there is a very good chance that it may have to be taken down, repaired and reinstalled.

How to screw an upper cabinet to the ceiling that has dropped

This is how I screw upper cabinets to the ceiling that have dropped down. If your house was built properly, there should be a soffit that extends down from the actual ceiling. If your cabinet’s edge is recessed back about two inches you should be able to use a 4” long screw and angle it towards the soffits edge to catch the stud at the front of the structure.

You should use a 3/16” drill bit to make a pilot hole with. You may want to cut some type of prop stick that can be wedged between the counter and the bottom of the cabinet to help raise it upward so that it is tight to the ceiling.

If the cabinet is recessed back more than two inches from the soffit’s edge, you will have to  find a wall stud to fasten the cabinet to. Once you have located them pre-drill a pilot hole in the top of the cabinet and screw it fast with a 3” to 4” screw. Here again, your cabinets should be completely unloaded and prop sticks should be used between the counter top and the bottom of the cabinetry.

  • Tip: It will be necessary to use an electric drill when screwing the cabinet fast to the studs. Most screws require a #2 Phillips bit. You may want to consult with a sales person at the hardware store to make sure that you have the correct screw size and bit combination.

As always,  I recommend that you have a cabinet professional take a look at the situation. This is usually the quickest way to determine how to fix a wall or upper cabinet that is drooping from the soffit.  If your cabinet has been sagging for a long time it may not be repairable.
You may have to remove cabinets and rebuild the boxes.

Any time cabinetry that has dropped from a ceiling or soffit  has been left unattended to for an extended period of time,  the wood forms to the shape that it has settled into.   Trying to correct something that has gradually formed into place may not be possible. Everything is worth trying to fix,  so don’t  discount the idea altogether before at least trying to put a screw or two in place.

  • Tip: Do not try to fill a large gap with caulking because  it will just look like a patch job. Do your best to get the cabinet that is pulling away from the ceiling back in place.

Fixing a sagging upper cabinet should require a few prop sticks, an extra set of hands, the correct fasteners and an electric drill. Once you locate a few studs to screw the sagging cupboard to, you will have half the battle accomplished.

Categories: Upper Wall Cabinetry
  1. Jeannie
    September 5th, 2009 at 02:54 | #1

    I really don’t understand everything I have read here, but I think it is enough for me to fix these ukpper kitchen cabinets. They is about a 4 inch gap away from the ceiling where the cabinets meet at the corner and it goes 2 doors in each direction before they are back levelat the ceiling. You gave me great info. Thanks several hundered dollars worth most likely. I’ll let you know how it comes out when I finish.

  2. x
    February 15th, 2014 at 09:56 | #2

    My cabinets don’t meet the ceiling and they are sagging terribly. I propped them up and put in new screws at the top and also some 1×2 reinforcements on the studs inside the cabinets. Unfortunately, when I go to remove the prop the front of the cabinets again sag. They front isn’t pulling away from the back. Is there a solution for this or am I just going to have to deal with the sagging cabinets?

  3. Wayne
    December 31st, 2014 at 08:03 | #3

    My upper cabinet is suspended from a sofit and the sofit is separating from the finished ceiling. The cabinet appears solidly attached to the bottom of the sofit. The whole assembly is attached to a wall on the left side but it is the right side, suspended from the ceiling which is dropping. Can you give suggestions, especially something which will not require removing the long cabinet, then the whole sofit? Thanks. Wayne

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