Home > Installation Tips > The Basics of Installing Upper Cabinets-part one

The Basics of Installing Upper Cabinets-part one

February 2nd, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

If your planning on installing your own upper cabinets, for a kitchen, garage, or laundry room, then I would recommend that you either have someone help you or you can do it yourself. If you decide to not get help with the installation, here is what you should do. Actually, use this method even if someone is helping you mount the upper cabinetry to the wall. Make some prop sticks. Cut four pieces of wood about 48” long and 2 ½” to 4” wide. Usually 3/4” thick wood works just fine for this application. Pair them up so you have two sets. Now, by adding screws to them you can adjust the height of the prop sticks to correspond to where the bottom of the upper cabinets will be. If your installing the cabinetry where there is no soffit above, when you place them on the prop sticks it will be necessary to keep pressure on the cabinet against the wall at all times. This is where the extra person becomes very valuable.

Follow These Steps For Upper Cabinet Installation

If you have to remove cabinets because you are doing a remodel, take the time to prepare the walls properly. Remove humps of caulking sand fill and sand areas with Spackle paint.

Every situation will present its own set of circumstances, but if you follow these steps your upper cabinet installation will go smoothly. I will give this word of caution right up front, when you are working with special fillers such as fluted moldings or crown molding, you must put extra effort in examining the details for your cabinetry placement. In other words, you must make allowance for these in everything that you are doing.

Determine the basic layout of the uppers
Some instruction manuals for installing upper cabinets suggest that you draw lines (or, “a complete outline”) all over the walls for where each cabinet will go. I say Baaa, it is not necessary. As a general rule you will almost always start in a corner and work your way out. I always just take the cabinet plan and start from the corner and begin to measure and put small lines (left to right) and notes on the walls. Just so you know, the wall cabinets rarely hit your marks anyway. You’re just doing two things here, one double checking the cabinets to the print and your walls and also getting a visual to determine where the studs are.

  • Tip: When you are writing on your walls, make extra sure that you are writing where the cabinets will cover your marks. Oh, and do not use ink either! Cabinet makers generally use sharp pointed pencils not the fat ones that carpenters use either.

The process of finding the studs
You can use a stud finder if you would like but let me just share with you how many cabinet makers do it. I have always just started knocking on the walls, listening for the tone to change. I then make a pencil mark in that spot and using my drill, with a 3/16” bit, drill around the area until I find it. Apply light pressure on the drill as you are doing this, the idea is to just break through the back of the drywall, you either hit a stud or you don’t.

Make sure that you are drilling where the cabinets will cover the holes. Once you find the studs edges, mark it in the center. The studs should be 16” on center but this is not always the case. Frame carpenters oftentimes must allow for vents and plumbing or other things that are inside their walls, so the 16” on center rule does not always apply. Just measure over sixteen inches from your mark and drill again. Repeat the knocking process all over again if there is not one there. Perhaps a stud finder would be an easier option if you don’t mind investing the money in one.

There are more basic steps to help you with your wall cabinet installation to be listed in two more articles. Upper cabinets are almost always hung first when you are installing, kitchen, laundry, or garage cabinetry. The only time that I have never been able to get them installed first is when the counter top could only be installed when the wall cabinetry was not. In other words, there would be no way to get the top in place with them being on the wall.

Categories: Installation Tips
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.