Installing kitchen base cabinets. New House Kitchen:

Installing Kitchen Base Cabinets


In This Article:

The basics of installing base cabinets: Start in a corner, connect adjacent units by screwing the face frames together, shim and screw to wall. Install filler strips as needed.

Related Articles:

Skill Level: 3 (Moderate)

Time Taken: 3 Hours

By , Editor

Off To A Slow Start: 

While this article follows cabinet installation in a new house, the installation process is the same for a kitchen remodel, once the old cabinets have been removed.

The kitchen when I first saw it. Note the strip of floor tiles omitted next to the wall. This will require some filling and shimming.

Another view.


The kitchen designer made a nice computer-drawn plan, but as we know with home construction... Nothing Ever Goes As Planned.

The pipes for the kitchen sink.

The first step in a base cabinet installation is finding the highest point in the cabinet layout area.  The highest point is the best point to start, because from there all the other cabinets will need to be shimmed higher. 

The corner where we will begin.

The "Lazy Susan" corner unit that will be installed first.


I had to use a few scraps of tile underlayment to build up the level of the floor.

I checked the levelness of the floor in both directions, adding shims as necessary.


Installing The First Cabinet:

The Lazy Susan has a cover panel to conceal the side. The stove will go next to this cupboard.

I placed the components together to test their fit.


The cover panel is clamped to the face frame of the Lazy Susan and holes are drilled for 2-1/2" deck screws.

I had to mount 2x4 cleats on the wall to act as supports for the counter.

Installing these cleats is a standard procedure with all of the Lazy Susan cabinets I have installed.  


The cover panel was fastened to the cleat with nails.

I included a cleat to connect the Lazy Susan to the wall, to keep it from moving during construction.


After the installation of the first Lazy Susan I turned my attention to the other end of the cabinet run.

I installed some more scraps of tile underlayment to build up the floor.


The drawer base unit was set in place.

There was a tapered gap along the right side, even though the base unit was perfectly level. It turned out that the wall was out of plumb.


An example of a shim used to level a cabinet .

Connecting Cabinets Together:

The sink base cabinet was set in place and the holes cut for the water supply pipes (holes in bottom) and the drain (in back panel)

The two base cabinets were connected together with 2-1/2" cabinet mounting screws.

This is an important concept in cabinet installation. Whenever possible, I first connect adjacent cabinets together at the face frame. I clamp the cabinets together, adjust the face frames so they are perfectly flush, and drill holes for long screws, such as 2-1/2" deck screws.


The face frames connected tightly together.

Next, the two units were fastened to the wall. The screws were driven into studs.


Installing The Second Lazy Susan:

The second Lazy Susan went the same as the first: cleats mounted to the wall, cover panel attached to the side, etc.

This unit had another base cabinet attached to it's side.


The kitchen so far. The open space between the cabinets along the right-hand wall is for a dishwasher. Dishwashers fit in a standard 24" cabinet width, so our space is exactly 24" wide.


A filler panel connected to a tall 84" high pantry cabinet.

On one side of the refrigerator the plan showed a tall divider panel... but the panel landed right in front of an outlet. Did I mention that Nothing Ever Goes As Planned?

I ended up moving the offending outlet a few inches to the right. See that article.

While the cabinet installation is far from complete, the base cabinets are done. Follow along as I install the counter tops.



Tools Used:

  • Cordless Drill/Driver
  • Drill Bits
  • 2' and 4' Levels
  • Stud Finder
  • Quick-Grip Clamps


Materials Used:

  • Cabinet Screws
  • Deck Screws
  • Shims
  • Misc. 2x4's


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Copyright © 1999, 2005

Written September 3, 1999
Revised January 4, 2005