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Kitchen cabinets installation: a step-by-step guide

by Kelly Richardson

You can accomplish a kitchen cabinets installation with moderate craftsman skills and a couple of buddies with strong backs. This overview will help you decide whether you can tackle the job.

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Required tools for kitchen cabinets installation

Before you begin the installation process, be sure you have all of these tools handy. They will be necessary throughout the process.

  1. Sharp pencil, tape rule and stud finder
  2. 2½'' deck screws and 3½'' cabinet mounting screws
  3. Electric drill driver
  4. Wooden shims
  5. Clamps
  6. A couple of jacks
  7. Step ladder

Depending on your kitchen layout or existing cabinet materials, other tools may be needed along the way. Make sure you're prepared for possible hiccups in the plan--issues happen. But there are experts available to help with problem soving at home improvement centers, online, or on the phone through the cabinet manufacturer.

Step-by-step guide

Once you have your tools ready, the following guide can help you through the process:

  1. Demolition: Outline positions of old cabinets with a sharp pencil to create guides for new cabinets. Remove existing cabinetry. Clean floors and walls thoroughly.
  2. Measurements: Accurately measure your cabinet spaces, then plot and label them precisely on graph paper. Many DIY superstores have in stock kitchen cabinets of varying standard sizes. See if standard sizes will work for you. Alternately, purchase custom-made cabinets to fit the measurements.
  3. Design: Shop for styles, finishes, construction quality, and prices. Visible components may be bamboo, acrylic, heartwood, poplar, thermofoil, melamine, laminate wood, or lyptus. Cases may be particleboard or plywood. Particle board cases will be heavier to lift.
  4. Cabinet placement/installation: This step depends on the type of cabinets you are installing.


  • Floor cabinets. Place floor cabinets precisely and level them. Put the level on the top and add shims to the bottom. Adjoining cabinets must be at the same level. Clamp and screw them together.
  • Wall cabinets. Remove doors. Connect adjoining cabinets. Measure and mark cabinet drilling flanges to align with wall studs. Mark studs. Pre-drill holes. Use two strong buddies or hydraulic jacks to lift and align cabinets with marks and holes. Units can be heavy and wobbly. Once in place, connect cabinets to the studs using cabinet mounting screws at least 3½ inches long. Fasten top screws before bottom screws to relieve stress. Replace doors.

NEVER USE NAILS to fasten cabinets to walls! Weight pulls nails out.

Following manufacturer's instructions carefully, and considering these tips throughout the process can ensure your DIY project is a success. Your kitchen cabinets installation project is one that you can appreciate for decades.

About the Author

Kelly Richardson has obsessive compulsive lawn disorder and is afflicted with the need to share his knowledge with the world. Kelly writes lawn columns for a variety of home and garden magazines and e-zines.

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