How to Hang Kitchen Cabinets
The right way to put up cabinets with tight joints, flush frames, and perfectly aligned doors
When This Old House contractor Tom Silva started his carpentry career over 35 years ago, he often built the kitchen cabinets he installed for his customers. "Back then, it was still cost-effective for small shops to build them," he recalls. "Today, manufacturers assemble them faster and more economically than we can."
Cabinetmakers also offer an overwhelming variety of styles, features, and price points, but with the help of a knowledgeable kitchen designer, finalizing your order can be the easiest part of a major remodel.
The goal is to take this collection of boxes and bring them together to make a beautiful piece of built-in furniture. The basic installation sequence is straightforward: You want to get everything straight, plumb, and level. But more often than not, the room itself lacks those attributes. "When walls aren't flat, floors aren't level, and corners aren't square, that's when it gets interesting," Tom says with a smile.
Hang Kitchen Cabinet Overview
Lay a wood floor before hanging cabinets. "It goes down a lot faster in an empty room," says Tom Silva. Protect it with thick mover's pads during installation. Sheet flooring is more easily damaged, so lay it after the cabinets are in.
Using a 4-foot level, a framing square, and a straight 2x4, check the walls and corners to see if they are plumb, square, and straight. Note any dips, bubbles, or angles that will require scribe-fitting, shimming, or alterations of the wall.
Install electrical lines for the range, dishwasher, garbage disposal, refrigerator, and vent hood. Locate receptacles above your countertop backsplash every 4 feet, and anywhere you plan to use a portable appliance. Also, rough in cabinet lights and their wall-mounted switches.
Rough in supply and drain lines. Make sure cap is not glued to drain pipe.