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Installing Base Cabinets Level

April 21st, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

If you don’t take the time to learn how to install your kitchen or bathroom base cabinets level, your cabinets will not look right. Even people who do not have trained eyes can tell when something is installed crooked. The videos below explain how to install base cabinets while using shims to make everything even.


There are two methods that are used for making bases level. One is cutting off the bottom of the toe base of the box and the other is using wedges to raise the boxes higher when there are low spots in the floor.

We have also included a video that demonstrates how to cut off the bottom of the cupboards in order to make them level. Installing cabinets on out of level  floors can be challenging at times.

If you are fabricating your own cupboards, consider building the toe kick sections separate from the cabinetry. I’ve been building kitchens this way for years and the system works really well. What makes this my preferred method is the toe sections get built for an entire run of cabinets and then that is what you have to make level. Trust me, this is the easiest way to install base cabinets because once all of the toes are installed, all you have to do is set the bases on top and screw them to the walls.

Installing Base Cabinets Level That Are Individual Boxes

-Determine where the high and low spots are in your floor. This will dictate whether or not you will need to use shims for installing the cabinets or cut off the bottom of the cupboards.

-You must always formulate the installation plan of the kitchen base cabinets around where the dishwasher and range are located. This is because you must have a certain clearance height for the dishwasher to be able to fit under the countertop. You also need to consider the height of the range in respect to where the finished countertop height will be when you are done.

-Install your first base cabinet perfectly level. Most installers begin in a corner with their first cabinet. If you are installing a large, full corner base cabinet, those almost always get installed first.

-After the first cupboard is perfectly leveled out, draw a level line on the wall by using the top of the base cabinet as a reference point for your lines. A six foot long level works best for this application if you have enough room.

-Work out the installation of the rest of the base cabinets by either shimming the kitchen or bathroom vanity cupboards up or cutting them off.

As you have seen in the video demonstrations, both methods require the use of shims when installing the cabinets.

Scribing a base cabinet to the floor requires a certain level of finish carpentry skill. Be very careful during this operation if you have never done anything like this. Making a wrong cut will be very costly.

Most store bought cabinets have toe kicks that are made out of long thin pieces of wood that get cut to length after the cabinets are installed. These boards cover over the large gaps where you have to used shims to make the cabinets level in the front.

The correct order for installing flooring is generally after the cabinets have been installed. In most cases where the finished floor gets installed before the cupboards, some of the cabinets need to be cut off rather than shimmed up. Refer to this article titled: How To Install Cabinets On Tile.

Every kitchen floor is going to be different in relation to having high and low spots. It’s a rare case when a floor is perfectly level.

I’ve installed cabinets on floors that were one entire inch out of level in a length of eight feet. When there is an extreme circumstance such as this, you must think through what you are doing very carefully. You cannot afford to make a mistake when there are range and dishwasher heights to take into consideration.

Flooring thicknesses, range and dishwasher locations are extremely important considerations when you are deciding what needs to be shimmed up and what should be cut off.

To be totally honest with you, the quickest way to learn how to install kitchen or bathroom base cupboards level is to watch the videos and then “just do it.” Mix your new found knowledge with a little common sense and you will not have a problem with installing base cabinets level.

Categories: Installation Tips
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