When it comes to home improvement projects adding more storage space to the cooking area certainly is common. With a little research, we may be inspired to take on some of the work ourselves. But the first question that usually pops up with storage space is how kitchen cabinets are attached to the wall in the first place.
Because they are used for storage, you will need to have them securely fastened into the strongest parts of the walls. This is normally done by a contractor or in some cases it can be a DIY project. This can save a lot of money but is a huge time investment to do this kind of kitchen renovation.
How Are Kitchen Cabinets Attached to the Wall (Step By Step Guide)
Some people are not handy enough to think about how to attach them to the wall. But the truth is the work itself is not hard to figure out, it just requires a lot of learning and time spent doing it the right way. It involves a fair amount of prep work followed by an order of installation that makes the most sense so that you are not hindered along the way. Finding out the location of the cabinets is some of the hardest work. Let this be a good guide on how kitchen cabinets are attached to the wall.
1. The Prep Work
Before you even consider the installation process you have to put some serious time into the prep work. This means finding the studs, understanding the installation, and knowing the order of things. However, there is a lot more that goes into your prep. If you are doing a full kitchen remodel, then the project should be done after all the plumbing or water lines and wiring is done but, before you move onto the finishes and flooring because you have the potential to ruin them in the process. You may also want to invest in a good laser level.
- If you are entirely replacing old cupboards then you need to remove them carefully from the walls so you don’t rip the walls right out. This would require a whole new level of prep work because they rely on the stability of the walls. It is also recommended to first remove all of the cabinet doors, remove all of the drawers along with any removable shelves.
- The majority of them are installed to wall framing members through their backs with screws or nails that you will be required to pull. Therefore, it is important that there is someone holding them up while you are removing the fasteners. For cupboards that are screwed or attached to one another through side panels, remove those screws or nails as well so you can pull-out them one at a time.
- Once the cupboards are off the walls, you’ll need to check them to make sure the surface is flat, clean, and smooth. Having level walls is important in ensuring everything looks organized and that you have no misalignment.
Note: Cupboards are attached to the wall by securing the wood or material with nails and screws to the stud locations. This means you’ll need the necessary tools or power tools to unscrew them from the wall by removing the doors and any shelving on the inside first to make it easier.
Fixing Up the Walls
In the event that your walls are not clean and surfaced well you will need to fill in any gaps with putty and use a spatula to fill in the cracks or gaps. You will still likely need to sand parts of this down when it completely dries to make it exactly level with the other parts of the wall. Next, clean the walls and then you can start to install them.
Take Your Measurements
- Before you go installing anything you will need exact measurements of your cupboards and the space on the walls. This is why it’s extremely important for them to be level because it can completely throw off your numbers.
- Then, on the floor, locate the highest point using a level. From this point (floor’s high point), grab your tape measure, measure up 34 1/2 inches and 48 inches from the floor, then draw a line across the wall using your level to designate the top of the base cabinets and to designate the bottom edge of the upper cabinets respectively.
Label The Location
Once you establish the line for the top of the base cabinets and the bottom of the wall cabinets, you need to make a kitchen layout by labeling each location of the appliances on the wall and the wall cabinets. Start this process by placing a mark on the wall where the first wall cabinet will be installed, which usually starts with the upper corner piece. Then from this point, measure up from the line designated for the bottom of the wall cabinets to the height of the cabinets.
Find The Wall Studs
Using your stud finder and a pencil, mark the location of wall studs above and at least 6 inches below the line designated for the bottom of the upper cabinets. Draw a vertical line between the top and bottom marks to show the center of the wall studs.
Install A Temporary 1-by-3 Support Trail Or Ledger Board
Begin this process by aligning the top edge of the ledger board with the line designated for the bottom edge of the upper cabinets. Then attach the rail or ledger board using three to four 2-inch screws into the wall studs. The bottom of the wall cabinets can rest on and give support while you screw them in. This allows them to be steady. Once this is installed you can install the corner cabinets.
Assemble New One
Check your new kitchen cabinets to know if there are missing parts such as face frames, cabinet screws, drawer fronts and to see if there are some visible damages in the cabinet face, cabinet frame, etc.. And if they arrived disassembled, make sure to read and follow the instructions from the cabinet manufacturer. Add drawers, cabinet doors and shelves after you are done with the upper cabinets installation. Note, it is a good practice to label the parts you remove so it will be easier for you to locate where they need to be put back.
2.Start with Priority Piece
Starting with upper wall cabinets over your base cabinets is a priority because you don’t want to be climbing over the base cabinets while trying to install the others. Upper cabinets are generally heavier and sturdier as well since they need to support a lot of weight like plates and glasses. While you will need to use screws, not everyone uses metal because it can be visible. Note that wood screws are commonly used.
Corner Wall Cabinets
Pilot holes are the initial holes you make with the drill before actually screwing something in. Next, position the corner wall piece on the ledger and make your pilot holes through the support rail or the back of the cabinet and then into the wall studs. Then use two screws to attach the corner wall cabinet to the wall. Your screws should be long enough to go into the studs by 1 ½ inches minimally. If the position is not level between the wall stud lines and the corner wall cabinet, you can make necessary adjustments by slipping shims to fix the alignment.
It is very important to make sure that the cabinet is level side to side and front to back.
Working with Adjacent Cabinets
Now that we have the corner cabinet installed we can start working with all the other adjacent cabinets along the line. The process will be the same as you did for the corner piece except the difference is that you will also clamp it to its neighbor and check it for being plumb. Plumb is a technical term that is used in a similar fashion to level. Level means no tilting as plumb means perfectly straight up and down.
There are some cabinets that may have some minor adjustments to consider:
- Face frame cabinets will actually do better if they are screwed together with the adjacent cabinet by using two ⅛ pilot holds and then being completely screwed in.
- Frameless cabinets also have a tiny bit of a different process where you will need to drill bolt holes. The bolt holes will need to be drilled through the peg holes so that you can bolt the two together without issue. You should never fasten the peg holes if it has the ability to be a storage option.
Use the ledger to position the adjacent cabinet and clamp it with its neighbor. Then make sure that the two wall cabinets are properly level and plumb. Remember that you can always slip shims between them and the wall to fix the alignment.
Install The Rest Of The Upper Cabinets
Hang the remaining items using the same procedure that you applied for the first ones and do not forget to check the level and plumb as you install each one. Once you have installed all the upper cabinets, utilize an end panel to hide any exposed sides. Then, you may now remove the ledger or rail that you installed prior to the wall cabinet installation. Also, do not forget to cut off any exposed shim flush with the cabinet using a utility knife.
Install Lower Cabinets Or Base Cabinets
Once all your upper wall cabinets are properly in place, you can now begin the process of installing the kitchen base cabinets. Just like the wall cabinets, the first cabinet that should be installed in the corner or end base cabinet. Follow the exact same instructions as you have been with the wall cabinets.
4. Applying Your Molding and Cut Filler Strip
Once the cabinets are securely in place you can work on what goes along with the cabinets. On the top of the cabinet, we commonly see decorative wood called moldings. This can actually be placed at the bottom of the cabinet too and in some cases both on the top and the bottom. Molding can also be a great way to hide a few problems.
- Attach a piece of decorative molding to the top of your cabinets if the spacing is off and there is too much space between the top and the ceiling.
- Attach a piece of decorative molding to the bottom of your cabinets to make cheaper-looking cabinets look more expensive and classier. (Molding is lightweight so for either reason 1 or reason 2 you just need screws that can go 1 ½ inch deep into the cabinets and through the molding piece. These are longer screws but they don’t need to be particularly thick.)
- If there is a gap between your last cabinet and the wall due to a miscalculation or wrong measurements from the cabinets, then put a molding between the wall and the cabinet to cover this. These are also commonly referred to as cut filler strips. They are slightly more casual than nice moldings. In order to do this, you will need the molding to have a face and two sides. The back is not necessary but you will use the two sides of the molding to screw into the cabinet and into the wall from the inside behind the face.
5. Installing a Valance
Installing a valence is not necessary but it can definitely make a nice addition as a decorative piece in the end. If you have two cabinets that sit on either end above your sink you can install a valance. Think of it like an archway that connects the two cabinets. Oftentimes someone will add drapery if there is a window space in front of the kitchen sink.
In order to do this, you need to drill pilot holes onto either side of the cabinets to connect the piece. More often than not this is a two-person job and you will need to have someone hold the piece steady while you secure it to the two cabinets on either side. Taking measurements is still just as important as a valance that is not level and will not correctly line up with the rest of your cabinets.
Once you know how to install cabinets, installing a valance or any moldings won’t be the hard part. The same process of screwing it in and securing the woodwork is not different than putting base cabinetin heavy cabinets.
As you can see if you want to know how kitchen cabinets are attached to the wall, the process of it is pretty straightforward. You can follow a series of steps and get the project done completely on your own without the need for a contractor. It can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars as long as you are willing to do the work yourself.
You’ll need to start with the prep work as this is arguably the most important part of the job. When you do the prep work right most of the time everything else is easy and falls into place. The measurements and ensuring that the wall is as level as can be is the majority of the work at this stage. This allows for the planning and spacing to be accurate.
Then, all you have to do is repeat the process of securing them to the wall with screws and drilling. If you end up with a little space at the end you can easily fix this with molding or any filler pieces. That’s it.
I hope that this guide helps you and it answers your question about how they are attached to walls? I also hope that it gives you an idea if this kind of home improvement project can be done on your own.
There is also other information that you need to know when renovating the whole cooking area such as the required space around the island if you are planning to have one or how to make an island out of base cabinets, the color of your cabinetry, how to choose hardware and lighting and the right size of table for your space. I know it may appear to be an overwhelming project but a kitchen renovation is something that is worth the investment of your time and money in the end!