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October 2023

Preparing the Space for Kitchen Cabinet Installation

Getting professional help to install your cabinets may save you time and frustration. But if you plan to take on this task yourself, gather all the tools and materials necessary for a first-class job. Use a level to draw layout lines for each cabinet. Find and mark stud locations alongside each line. For more information, visit this website at https://thompsonandboys.com/.


kitchen remodelingOne of the most important things you can do to make your cabinet installation project successful is to prepare the space carefully. This step will help ensure that the cabinets you install fit correctly, are level and secure, and will be able to accommodate any appliances or fixtures that might need to be installed later on.

Start by shutting off the power and water to the area you’ll be working in. This will protect you against electric shock, especially when you’re dealing with outlets and other appliances in the wall that are still live. You should also wear protective gear such as gloves, safety glasses, and steel-toe shoes to prevent injuries while working.

Clear the workspace by removing everything from your kitchen cabinets, including shelves, drawers, and doors. Then sweep the floor and wipe down the countertops, backsplash, windows, and fixed appliances to remove any dust or debris that may get on your paint job. You should also place a drop cloth or plastic tarp over the area to catch any drips and keep them from damaging the surrounding surfaces.

If you’re using a paint sprayer, or even just a brush, it’s a good idea to apply a stain-blocking primer before painting the cabinets. This will help the paint adhere to the wood and create a smooth surface that will be free of smudges and drips. Once the primer dries, you can begin to paint. Start with the back sides of your cabinets, then move on to the face frames. After applying the first coat, wait 24 hours for it to dry before adding a second.

After the first coat of paint is completely dry, you can install any necessary openings for your sink drain, water supply lines, and outlet boxes. You should also mark layout lines for upper cabinets, if they aren’t already marked on the wall. For this step, you’ll need a tape measure, pencil, and stud finder.

Once the layout line for your upper cabinets is marked on the wall, you can fasten cleats or a ledger board to the studs underneath it. Be sure the cleats or boards are spaced evenly along the length of the layout line. Now you can attach your upper cabinet to the cleat or board, making sure it is level and plumb. If it isn’t, you can use wooden shims to correct the problem.


Cabinets need to be properly laid out before the construction process begins. The layout is critical to the success of the cabinets and to the finished look of the kitchen. The layout process also solves problems that may occur during installation. Walls and floors rarely are in a perfectly level plane, and framing members tend to bow. Taking the time to layout the cabinets carefully and precisely prevents the need for costly, time-consuming rework later.

Using a 6-foot level as a straight edge, draw vertical plumb reference lines along the walls of the room. These are the lines from which you will hang your cabinets. You will work off these lines throughout the project to ensure that your cabinets are both plumb and square when they’re installed.

Start with the corner cabinets and set them first, spacing them correctly on the layout line. Then work outward, setting the end cabinets and then the intermediate cabinets. Remember to take into account the height of your counters and any appliances you plan on installing, such as refrigerators.

Once you’ve set all the base cabinets, mark where you want the upper cabinetry to stop on the wall. This will be 18 inches above the floor, which leaves room for a standard-height backsplash behind your countertops. Measure up from the layout line for the base cabinets and snap a level chalk line to determine the height of the top of your upper cabinetry.

To support the weight of the upper cabinets while you work, install a ledger board or cleats–narrow pieces of wood used to support frames and other wall-mounted decor–on the studs beneath where the cabinetry will be mounted. Fasten the cleats to the studs with 2-inch screws.

Next, put your level against the wall horizontally and observe it for any bumps that might affect the alignment of the cabinets when they’re fastened to the wall. Shim any areas that rock to make the wall flat. This is particularly important for locations where both upper and lower cabinet runs meet – such as at refer panels or stove/hood cabinets–and at the top of the wall where the ceiling cabinets will end.


Cabinet installation begins with a few basic tools. You need a level, a screw gun capable of driving 2-1/2-inch screws and some shims. You should also use a countersink bit to predrill screw holes. Then you should screw a piece of 1-by-4 wood, known as a ledger board or cleat, to the wall where you want your cabinets to be installed. This supports the cabinets while you screw them to the wall, and it gives you a place to start if your walls aren’t plumb or straight.

To check the walls, hold your 4-foot level up against the wall and check different sections of the room. Look for any areas that rock when you run the level up against them. You’ll need to shim these areas so that the cabinets are level and plumb after you hang them.

If you’re going to install upper cabinets, mark the wall with a line that indicates where the bottom of the cabinet will be. You’ll also need to mark the stud locations on the wall with a pencil. When the lower cabinets are installed, you can transfer the cabinet positioning lines to the ledger board or cleat (Photo 13).

Before you begin hanging cabinets, make sure that all your electrical and plumbing work is complete. This is especially important if you’re moving outlets, lights and switches to new positions. You should also reroute ductwork, gas line and water supply as needed.

When the drywall is hung, paint and trim should be applied and dry before you begin working on your cabinet installation. This saves a lot of time and hassle because you won’t have to paint around the edges of the cabinets later.

Once you’ve finished installing the lower cabinets, hoist the first upper cabinet up onto the ledger board or cleat. Using the cabinet positioning lines and stud locations from below, screw the face frame of the cabinet to the 1×2 ledger board even with the layout marks (Photo 14).

Continue to mount each upper cabinet by screwing it to the ledger board, then shim it if necessary. Repeat the process until all of your upper cabinets are in place and plumb, level and square.


Cabinet installation can be a lengthy process, especially when you have an order of custom cabinets that need to be cut and manipulated on-site. As such, it’s important to plan ahead and make sure you have all the supplies you need in one place so that you don’t have to stop what you’re doing in order to get a tool.

Before beginning the cabinet painting and finishing process, it’s a good idea to sample some paint colors to ensure that you end up with a color that you love. A few extra paint samples won’t cost much and will help you avoid spending more time on the project than is necessary.

A professional cabinet finish can help you achieve a smooth, even appearance and add to the overall look of your kitchen. A high-quality finish will also protect the wood from moisture and will provide long-lasting durability. Before completing the finishing process, it’s recommended to use a polyurethane sealant. Polyurethane is a great choice because it offers a strong resistance to moisture and doesn’t yellow as many other finishes do over time.

Once the cabinets are in position, fasten them to the wall using self-drilling screws at the top and bottom of each frame. Before tightening the screws, use a level to check that the cabinet is plumb. If it isn’t, shim the cabinet up or down until it is.

While installing your cabinetry, you will want to install the I-beams on each side of the base cabinets if you have them. This will help prevent the cabinets from warping during transportation and installation. It’s also a good idea to install the back panel of each cabinet before installing it on the wall. This will prevent the cabinets from being damaged by drywall installers later on.

Before installing the cabinets on the wall, you should mark the locations of the studs in the wall using a stud finder. This will make the mounting process go much more quickly. Next, if you haven’t already done so, drill pilot holes through the back of the cabinet at the stud locations. Mount the cabinet to the wall by screwing through the pilot holes into the studs. Once the cabinets are mounted, you can install any crown molding or other decorative trim that you may have.