The day has come — you’re finally about to replace your old kitchen cabinets with a brand new set. You may also be installing kitchen cabinets for the first time in your new home. One way or another, it’s an exciting event for most homeowners, but it can also be very intimidating.
If you’re not a professional, you probably don’t know how to install kitchen cabinets yourself. It can be done on your own or with the help of an expert. As your cabinets are there to serve you for years, you certainly want to make the best choice when you’re installing them.
Can you, and should you, do it by yourself? How do you install kitchen cabinets on your own? How much does it cost if you choose to hire professionals? We’re here to answer all the common questions that pop up during every kitchen remodel.
Keep reading to check out our step-by-step guide on how to install kitchen cabinets.
Can I install kitchen cabinets myself?
This is a very common question amongst those that are in the middle of a kitchen remodel. We all know that furnishing and remodeling the kitchen is a costly venture. If you’re able to save on paying a company to do it for you, why not try to install kitchen cabinets all by yourself?
It might seem difficult at first, but it can be done even by people that have no prior experience with these types of things. Of course, if you’re a bit of a handyman, you’ll have an easier time — but it’s fine if you aren’t! With enough patience and attention to detail, most people are able to install upper cabinets and base cabinets without any problems.
We are here to provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to install kitchen cabinets by yourself. You will learn how to install them in a way that does them justice and enhances the way your kitchen looks. Let’s get started!
Preparing to install new kitchen cabinets
So you’ve decided to take matters into your own hands? That’s great! You’re just a few steps away from a brand-new kitchen. However, before we get to it, keep in mind the following:
- You should reserve, at the very least, one full day to install kitchen cabinets.
- If you’re able to, ask a friend or family member to assist you.
- Before buying new cabinets, make sure to measure your entire kitchen. Double and triple-check every measurement to be 100% confident in the sizing.
- Prepare all the necessary tools and backups beforehand. We discuss what you’ll need below.
What tools do I need to install kitchen cabinets?
Several types of tools are needed to install cabinets, be it base cabinets or upper cabinets. You will need studs, a power drill, screwdrivers, and more. Fortunately, a lot of these are things you will already have in your home.
Let’s talk about the tools you need before we talk about strategy!
- A reliable power drill, such as BLACK+DECKER
- Self-lock tape measure
- A standard level tool
- Pens and pencils
- A screwdriver set
- Twist drill bits
- Extra studs
For smaller pieces, such as the twist drill bits, we recommend that you stock up and prepare extras just in case something goes awry. After all, kitchen cabinets are the focal point of any kitchen. As such, it’s important to install them the right way.
Inspecting the new cabinets
Whether you picked them up yourself or they were just delivered to your doorstep, you should always inspect kitchen cabinets as soon as you get them.
Compare each and every piece against your order. Take precise measurements & write them down to later compare to your previous plan. You need to be absolutely certain that the cabinets will fit before you try to install them.
If your cabinets came pre-assembled, check them for damage and make sure that all the pieces have been included. Look inside to inspect shelves and doors. Make sure that no screws are coming loose and that the pre-assembly has been done properly.
If your cabinets are unassembled, your first step will be to put them together.
This is usually a rather easy and relaxing step. It’s almost like a big puzzle that you can put together, although the stakes are, obviously, much higher. Fortunately, all cabinets should come with a set of instructions that make it simple to assemble them yourself.
However, if you’re assembling the kitchen cabinets by yourself, we recommend that you hold off on installing certain parts. Leave the installation of cabinet hardware, doors, and drawer fronts for later.
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When it comes to assembling kitchen cabinets from scratch, an automatic screwdriver will always come in handy. Using one saves you a whole lot of elbow grease and ensures that your cabinets are securely assembled.
Installing new kitchen cabinets by yourself
You’ve done all the prep work — now it’s time to get down to business! Soon enough, your kitchen will look better than ever, and it will all be thanks to your DIY project. Before you start, take a deep breath and don’t allow this task to intimidate you. As long as you’re diligent and careful, you will have no trouble at all.
The first step for most homeowners will be to install upper cabinets, but before that, there are some general tasks left to be done first.
Measuring and finding studs
This is where your measuring tape, level tool, and pens are going to come in handy. Before anything else, you need to decide where to install the kitchen cabinets. You have a rough idea in your head, but this time, you’ll put your plan in motion. Take very precise measurements and write them down to not forget them. Write down the stud locations too.
Most upper cabinets hang at around 35 inches high. You need to reserve space for working on the counter and backsplash — this should add around 20 inches. Adding that up, your upper kitchen cabinets should hover at around 56 inches from the ground to the bottom of the cabinet.
Once you’ve done your measurements, mark the spots with a horizontal line and fine the nearest stud (or studs). Mark the stud locations with a vertical line all the way from the ceiling to the ground.
Mark the spot for each and every cabinet, both upper and lower. Afterward, you can start installing the upper cabinets!
How to install upper kitchen cabinets — step-by-step
Are you ready to install the upper cabinets? Follow our step-by-step guide to ensure success!
1. Hang a support board
Hanging the upper cabinets can get really heavy really quick. You don’t want to be stuck with a cabinet that you have no strength to hold up. This is why most professionals first hang a support board for the cabinet to rest on while they install it.
Such a ledger doesn’t just make things easier — it helps you make sure that all the cabinets are on the same level. Even if you get a support board, we heartily recommend working with a friend on the upper cabinets. This makes the entire task much easier.
A support board is easy to install — simply hang it below your desired cabinet location. Draw a level line. Make sure it’s even and that you follow your stud locations.
2. Remove cabinet doors and drawers
The doors and drawers in a base cabinet or an upper cabinet are quite heavy. They’re also unnecessary during the installation process. Remove them before you install kitchen cabinets and then re-attach them once the cabinets are in place.
3. Attach the cabinets together (optional)
This step depends on whether you’re able to lift more than one cabinet at once. If you are, this will be a great timesaver. Having a ledger makes this easier to accomplish.
If you’re able to lift two cabinets at once with the help of a friend before you attempt to hang them, attach them together with a screw. To keep them level, consider using a clamp — you really don’t want them to be dis-aligned at this point.
Drill one screw at the top of the cabinet and then another one at the bottom. Once you’re certain that both the cabinets are on the same level, you can move on to hanging them.
4. Hanging the upper cabinets
Lift your cabinet (or cabinets) onto your ledger. Hold the cabinet to the wall closely. If you marked the wall studs locations, you will know where the wall studs are even now that the cabinets obstruct your view. Screw the first cabinet onto the wall studs securely. Two screws per one of the wall studs are usually optimal.
Once you’ve securely attached the first cabinet and then the following ones, check behind them to make sure that there is no empty space between the cabinet and the wall. If there is, don’t worry — this isn’t your fault. Most walls aren’t completely straight and may be difficult to take precise measurements on.
If you see a gap between the upper cabinet and the wall, simply take a small piece of wood or a shim to use as a filler strip. Insert it into the gap and nudge it in as far as it goes, then remove the excess that will stick out from under the cabinet.
5. Install all the cabinets
After the first cabinet, all of this is just rinse and repeat. Keep in mind that you should install all of your upper cabinets before you move on to base cabinets. Follow the level line, keep track of all the wall studs, and hold off on installing the cabinet face and cabinet doors until you’re all done.
How to install base cabinets — step-by-step
Many experts often say that the upper base cabinets are the real test. Now that you’ve installed the upper cabinets, you can breathe easily — the hardest part is over! If you’ve taken precise measurements and you were able to draw a level line for the placement, there’s only one issue you may run into. Not all floors are perfectly straight, so you may have to install your base cabinets on uneven ground.
1. Take precise measurements & mark wall studs
Just like before, take all your measurements and write them down. To ensure that your cabinets are all on the same level, find the highest point on the floor in the area where you plan to install them. Once you find it, take your measurements and draw a level line. Next, find the wall stud locations and mark the wall studs on your level line.
2. Place your base cabinets
If everything is marked, now is the time to put your base cabinet into place and install kitchen cabinets. Check behind them — it’s likely that they, like the upper ones, will have gaps. Simply fill in the gap the same way you did before, using a shim, a filler strip, or a piece of wood, and detach the excess. Unlike with the upper kitchen cabinets, it’s alright if a bit of the shim is showing, as this will be covered by the countertop.
3. Drill in the screws
Once you’re sure that the base cabinets are placed neatly and correctly, drill in your screws. Take your time with this to ensure that everything is nice and tight. Our recommendation remains the same: two screws per stud, one at the top, one at the bottom.
Congratulations — you’ve just installed a set of kitchen cabinets all by yourself! You can soon head off for a celebratory drink in your brand new kitchen, but first, remember to do the following:
- Detach the support board from beneath the upper cabinets
- Test the screws and make sure everything remains in place when pushed or carrying a weight
- Install doors and drawers as well as countertops on the base cabinets
- Clean up the area and put away your tools — you may need them in the future!
We hope that our guide has helped you install kitchen cabinets. However, if you’re still unsure about some things, we’re here to answer the questions we most commonly receive.
How much does it cost to install a kitchen cabinets?
The answer to this will vary wildly depending on your area. However, as a general rule of thumb, the installation of kitchen cabinets is quite pricey.
Many services charge anywhere between $100-$400 per linear foot for installing kitchen cabinets. You can also expect an hourly fee for the professionals that do this for you. Reserve up to two hours per cabinet.
What does Home Depot charge to install cabinets?
If you’d rather not try to do this by yourself, Home Depot offers kitchen cabinet installing services. When you hire this service, skilled professionals will come and do all the work for you.
Home Depot doesn’t offer flat prices for the service. Instead, the price is affected by things such as:
- The size of your kitchen
- Whether you still have old cabinets that need to be removed & disposed of
- The number of cabinets you’re installing
Your best bet is to call Home Depot at 1-800-HOME-DEPOT and ask them for a custom quote!
Do you put flooring under kitchen cabinets?
This entirely depends on whether you’re doing a full remodel or just changing the kitchen cabinets. Many new homeowners don’t put flooring underneath the cabinets. This is a waste of building materials, as you will never see the floor underneath the counters.
If you’re able to skip the expense, do so. However, if the flooring is already there, most people just leave it and don’t remove it.
Attaching a kitchen cabinet to the wall might seem like a terrifying prospect sometimes. However, once you get into the groove, you will find that it’s not so bad!
Installing kitchen cabinets all by yourself saves you a whole lot of money. As long as you feel up to it, we recommend that you explore the option. You’re just a day’s work away from the kitchen of your dreams.