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How to Install Kitchen Cabinets

by Brooke Bartlett

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Kitchen cabinets

Things You Need:

  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • Stud finder
  • Drill
  • Clamps
  • Cabinets

Change the functionality and style of your kitchen by installing new kitchen cabinets. They store all of your cookware and pantry goods, of course, but they can also enhance your living space to reflect your personal style. Installing the cabinets and cabinet hardware yourself can be a rewarding home-improvement project, and these steps will help you get started.

Installing Kitchen Cabinets:

  1. Design the cabinet layout. Consider your needs before you select new cabinets. Consider how much space you need and the feel you want for your kitchen.


    • You have several options for organization, like corner cabinets with Lazy-Susan inserts, drawer cabinets and adjustable shelving. Make use of unused space by adding kitchen cabinets above a countertop bar or along an unused wall. Alternately, if you don't use all the cabinet space you have, removing upper cabinets can open up the kitchen.

    • Measure the area where you will install the cabinets. Drawing a layout can help. Use graph paper and a scale of two squares to one foot. Use this to plan your design, and then select cabinets that will fit your space.

  2. Select a cabinet style. You might want to match your existing cabinets in color and finish or create contrast by adding something different. When mixing styles, maintain a consistent kitchen cabinetry design theme for a cohesive look.

  3. Draw installation guidelines. Once you've removed the old cabinets, you'll want to place marks to guide installation. The measurements will differ depending on the size of your cabinets.


    • Mark the walls for the top edge of the lower cabinets and the lower edge of the upper cabinets. Ask another person to hold a level along the marks, and then draw lines along the length of the areas.

    • Locate studs using a stud finder and mark their locations with a pencil. Aim to mark the center of the studs when possible.

  4. Install upper cabinets. Hold up the upper-corner cabinet -- or the first cabinet in the row -- until it is flush with the bottom guideline. It helps to have two people hold the cabinet steady while you secure it to the wall.


    • Drill several pilot holes through the support at the back of the cabinet. Check to make sure the cabinet is level, and then secure the cabinet with screws at the top and bottom. The screws must be long enough to penetrate at least 1.5 inches into the stud.

    • Each of the following cabinets must be flush with the first one, so take the time to install it perfectly. Line up each cabinet and secure it in the same way.

  5. Install the lower cabinets. Installing these cabinets is similar to the upper cabinets. If your floor is not perfectly level, you may need to use wooden shims to level each cabinet. Place the corner or end cabinet according to the guideline and drill the pilot holes. Because these screws are stabilizing rather than load-bearing screws, you can use fewer screws than are required for upper cabinets.

  6. Install your countertops. Depending on the cabinet layout and your countertop material, installation will vary for cabinet countertops.

Kitchen Cabinet Tips:

  1. If you are finishing the cabinets, do so before you install them.

  2. For a cohesive design, use drawer pulls and cabinet handles that match your faucet fixtures.

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