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Installing new cabinets in your kitchen can greatly enhance the look and functionality of your kitchen - plus updated kitchens are a major selling point for homebuyers. All you need to do is select the prefabricated cabinet style that you like and spend a weekend installing your new cabinets.

Buying ready-made cabinets makes this project that much easier. The cabinetmaker has done all the hard work by providing you with modular cabinets that are usually prefinished and ready for installation. In this tutorial we will cover the installation of the base cabinets. Check out our tutorial on installing hanging cabinets if your project includes hanging cabinets.



Skill Level & Time to Complete

  • Beginner - 3 to 4 days 
  • Intermediate - 1 to 2 days
  • Advanced - about 1 day
  - Do not screw the cabinets together through the thin walls or backs. Only screw through the framing or ledger boards. They are much stronger.
  - Install hanging cabinets first. It is easier to work on the hanging cabinets without the base cabinets in the way.
  - Use a scroll saw or jigsaw to cut out plumbing and other fixtures that protrude into the new cabinets.


Materials List
   Prefabricated base cabinets
   2-1/2" wood screws
   Wood shims
Tools List
   Carpenter's level
   Screw drivers
   Screw gun


1. Base cabinets, as well as hanging cabinets, must be anchored to the studs in the kitchen walls. For this reason, your first step is to determine where all the studs are in the walls. Use a stud finder or small drill bit to locate the studs. Once you find the first one, the others should be spaced 16" apart. Make sure you mark both edges of the stud.
2. After your base cabinets are installed, it is critical that they are level and exactly the same height from section to section, otherwise the countertop will not fit correctly and will not be level. To ensure this, you need to determine if your floor is level. If not, you need to find the highest point in the floor and shim up the cabinet sections to compensate. Using a long, straight 2" x 4", place a carpenter's level on top of it and move it along the floor next to the wall. Identify the highest point and mark it on the wall.
3. Measure the height of the new cabinets. Most likely this dimension is about 34" to 35". At the high point you determined in your floor, measure up the wall using this dimension. Mark this point. Using a carpenter's level, create a level line along the walls where you are installing the base cabinets.
4. Install the first cabinet section in a corner. Using wood shims, raise the cabinet to the reference line on the walls. Using a level, make sure the top of the cabinet is level in all directions - front-to-back and side-to-side.
5. Using 2-1/2" screws, screw the back ledger of the base cabinet into the studs in the wall. If you find gaps between the wall and the cabinet, slip a shim in the areas you are screwing to avoid pulling the cabinet towards the wall.


6. Using a chisel or utility knife, cut off any protruding shims.
7. Put the next cabinet in place. Again, you need to shim it into position and make sure it is level. Also, make sure the faces of the two cabinets are flush with each other. Using clamps, pull the two adjacent cabinet frames together. Using long screws, secure the cabinets together. Screw the second cabinet into the wall.
8. In some cases, you may need to install a filler strip in between a cabinet and a wall. Use the same technique you used to secure two cabinet sections together. Clamp the filler strip in place and use long screws to fasten it in place.
9. To cover up gaps between the cabinets and the floor, install a thin piece of molding that provide a more attractive appearance. You can also follow our tutorial on Installing Vinyl Cove Molding to hide this gap.
10. If you are installing a new countertop, you can usually buy a ready made counter the matches your tastes and the style of your new cabinets. Generally you can have your local home improvement retailer cut the countertop to length and cut the hole for your sink. Make sure your measurements are precise - you only get 1 chance to cut the hole for the sink! To install the countertop, place it on top of the cabinets. Secure it in place from inside the cabinets with screws that go through the corner brackets of each cabinet section.


11. If not installed already, the final step is to install the cabinet doors and the pulls (knobs and handles). Usually the holes are pre-drilled and ready to go.

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