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Hanging Kitchen Cabinets - Part 4 of 4: Installing the Base Units and Trim

by Jim Mallery

In this final article of 4--in the previous 3 articles, we gathered the proper tools, prepped the walls, and installed the uppers--it's time to install the base cabinets and finish trim. Here are 9 steps to wrap things up.

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(Note: you may want to finish trimming out the upper cabinets before the base cabinets are in place. That process is dealt with in steps 7-9 below.)

  1. Assuming you have previously leveled your floor, straightened the walls, and marked your studs, set the corner cabinet unit in place. Check it for plumb and level and make minor adjustments with shims if necessary. If you have prepped your walls, the mounting rails at the back of the cabinet should be flush against the wall. If you need to shim the back of the cabinet to the wall, it is easier to tack the shim to the wall and slide the cabinet against it--otherwise the shims have a propensity to slip before you can screw the cabinet to the stud.
  2. With the corner cabinet in position, screw it into each wall stud from the inside, top and bottom. As with the upper cabinets, set the screws within ¾" from the top and bottom so you can cover them by trim (not necessary if it is a drawer unit--screws won't be visible).
  3. Slide a neighboring unit into place. As with the corner cabinet, do any minor shimming to move the cabinet into perfect position. Clamp the stiles of the corner unit and adjoining unit, taking care that they are flush. Like the upper cabinets, drill pilot holes with countersink at the hinge level and screw the units together. Attach to wall studs as above.
  4. Be aware of any holes you might need to drill in the back of the cabinetry, specifically in the sink base, where you need to cut holes for plumbing and wiring.
  5. The standard gap for a dishwasher is 24". You can attach a 24" length of 1x2 across the back of the dishwasher space as support for the counter. Your cabinet system may have a finished piece to connect the front of the cabinets across the top of the washer.
  6. Continue installing base units until complete.
  7. Now trim out the job. With your cabinet order, you should have received several lengths of scribe trim, a thin, ¾" strip of wood in your cabinet finish. Run a strip of this along the interior top and bottom of all your cabinets to cover the mounting screws. You can use contact cement to attach the trim. But better yet, use this as an excuse to buy a pneumatic pin nailer. A pin nailer won't split the wood and leaves a virtually invisible nail hole.
  8. Use the scribe to trim the exterior ends of the cabinets where they meet the wall. You may need to sand down the scribe to match waviness in the wall.
  9. You also should have recieved toe-board (or kick-board) material with your cabinet order. No tricks here--just finish-nail, glue, or pin it to the cabinet bases in a continuous strip.

Your cabinets are now installed--and look like they were done by a pro.

About the Author

Jim Mallery, a semi-retired journalist and onetime registered contractor, has extensive experience remodeling, repairing and rebuilding homes.

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