Tips for Installing Kitchen Cabinets

By | August 24, 2015

Now that we’re on this side of the kitchen remodel and looking back, we have a few tips that we wanted to share about doing the cabinet installation ourselves.

It was certainly worth it, for us, to tackle this part of the process ourselves. When we bought the cabinets from Lowe’s, they told us the average installation cost was about ……………. of the total cabinet price, which means we saved about ……….by doing this ourselves.

Even though it’s totally DIYable, there are a few important things to keep in mind. For the basics, you can read this post for how we prepped and handled the installation.

Installing Base Cabinets 2


That being said, it’s a lot of work, and we’re hopeful these tips will help you avoid any major problems you might face if you decide to tackle this yourself, too.

1. Paint/stain the unfinished edges of the filler pieces that go between cabinets or between the cabinet and the wall. This will help hide the seams and give a more finished look. Then, use clamps to help hold everything tightly together when attaching everything together. It’s a fool-proof method…as opposed to asking your wife to hold it steady…not that we know that from experience of anything.

It’s also good to connect a row of cabinets together before installing them to the wall.

Installing Base Cabinet Spacer 5

2. Make a jigs for drilling holes into the doors and drawers for the pulls and knobs. This will speed up the process of aligning the holes to drill and drilling them.

(We wrote about that here.)

Jig For Mounting Cabinet Hardware

3. For hanging upper cabinets, screw a board to the wall for the cabinets to sit on. This will make it easier to hold the cabinets level on the wall and on the same horizontal plane. This is especially important if you’re working with a small crew of one tired husband and one barely-strong-enough-to-help wife.

Also, the larger the cabinet, the heavier it is, so the more you’ll need this extra set of “hands.”

Adding Microwave to Kitchen Cabinet

4. After finding the studs that you will be anchoring the cabinets to, measure and mark on the back of the cabinet where the studs will be and pre-drill the holes. This will help you hit the stud the first time easily. It also helps prevent any splitting of the cabinet wood, especially if your cabinets aren’t solid wood.

Installing Kitchen Base Cabinets 8

5. If you are taking the drywall out at the beginning, take pictures of the studs and where the electrical lines run and transfer those marks to the drywall behind where the cabinets will be. This will be helpful when you are rehanging the cabinets and want to mount them to the studs. Of course, it’s important to not paint over those lines when you paint the room. That was a mistake we made and then learned from later.

Installing Kitchen Base Cabinets


6. Take the time to check, and recheck the cabinets are level. A package of shims is one essential tool you might not think to have on hand, but it’s well worth it to not end up with countertops that oranges immediately roll off of.

Installing Kitchen Base Cabinets 4

7. Remember, caulk hides a multitude of sins. Even after carefully measuring and trimming our cabinets, it helped to run a thin bead of caulk down the edge where it meets the wall.. Then, carefully paint the caulk to prevent it from yellowing over time (that’s an important step!) and you’ll be amazed by the professional look.

You’ll also want to be sure and caulk the seems between the cabinets and the backsplash. In wet areas, near the sink, this is essential. In other areas, it’s more aesthetic, but still a good idea.

Caulking Kitchen Subway Tile


All in all, it’s not a hard project if you have a plan and all the tools you’ll need. Not to mention, willing helpers.

Oh, and just as a refresher, if you’re installing a sink cabinet, here’s some tips of how to do that special installation, here.

Those are our seven best tips for DIY cabinet installation. What tips would you add to the list?

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