How to Install Kitchen Cabinets

Naturally, you can learn how to install kitchen cabinets yourself or have the professionals at Accord install them for you. Either way, there are seven steps on how to install kitchen cabinets.  

Accord Cabinets keeps up to date with every option and device so that we may provide a truly custom design service to help select materials, finishes, and hardware to suit your tastes and tailor to your lifestyle for cabinets anywhere in your home (see our Accessories section). Rest assured that your cabinets will be fashionable and functional! Just check out our Portfolio showcasing our experience in whole home custom cabinetry. 

Follow these steps on how to install kitchen cabinets:



Step One: Ensure you have all the required tools 

To get started on how to install kitchen cabinets you will need a 4ft level, a power drill, and a few screw clamps that open to 8in or more. You should also purchase a 1/8in combination drill/countersink bit for pre-drilling. You will also need a belt sander or block plane for fine tuning the cuts to make sure they all fit accurately. Finally, a box of 2.1/2in screws and a few bundles of shims will be enough for most kitchen cabinet installs. 


Step Two: Set the base cabinets 

Before starting your install, open all boxes and confirm each cabinet matches the plan you were provided and all required parts are included.  

Once you confirm nothing is missing or damaged, you will need to set the height of the cabinet and the cabinet order. You will need to draw a level line along the wall 34.1/4in above the floor. You will then need to draw vertical lines to mark where each cabinet will be located. Write where each cabinet will be positioned on the wall and mark the locations of the studs. 

In most cases the corner cabinets will determine where the rest of the cabinets will go. Check your cabinet’s layout by stacking them together to see how everything fits. Start with the corner ones and set all of them as tightly as possible to make sure all doors and drawers clear each other and appliance openings are the correct width.  

Once everything is determined to be correct, you will need to remove the doors, drawers and shelves and mark them and their matching cabinet with numbered masking tape. Once completed you should label each base location and appliance location on the wall and move the cabinets out of the room. 


Step Three: Set the base cabinets 

Level and set the first cabinet 1/4in from the positioning line. Then shim the base of the cabinet until the top is even with the horizontal line. Drive 2.1/2in screws through the back and into the wall studs. 

Position, level and shim the following cabinet and clamp it to the first one. If you run your fingers over the joints you will feel if they are misaligned.  

It’s also important to make sure you are drilling straight. It is not uncommon to run the bit through the front of the cabinet. When the face-frame screws are in place, remove the clamps and screw the cabinet in place. Repeat the process with each cabinet. 


Step Four: Base Cabinets 

Measure the gap between the wall and the end cabinets. Add 1/16in to each measurement and draw a cutting line on the backends of a filler strip. Make sure to add filler strips whenever there is space between the cabinets and walls. Also leave gaps for the appliances.  

Filler strips are generally available in 3, 6 and 8in widths. These should be cut in the same lengths and heights as the cabinet face frame.  


Step Five: Plumbing and electricity 

Next you will need to determine where to place the plumbing and electrical openings in the back of cabinets. Use the lines you created on the wall as reference points then drill out the openings. You may also have to cut openings for the drain and water supply lines and electrical outlets. 

Make sure to layout the cabinet near its desired position then drill holes for the water supply lines. Remember to stop drilling when the tip penetrates the back, and finish drilling the holes from the inside of the cabinet. This will prevent any splintering of the interior cabinet. 


Step Six: Set the Peninsula Cabinets 

Set the first peninsula cabinet at a right angle to the wall. Then level and clamp it to the adjacent cabinet and screw it to the cabinet and the wall. Level and screw the first peninsula cabinet to the adjoining standard base cabinet.  

After the peninsula is in place, anchor those that follow to permanent blocks on the floor. To accomplish this, place the next peninsula cabinet in its location and outline its base on the floor with a pencil. There’s no need to try and place or cut the blocks perfectly.  

Screw 2-by blocks to the floor after allowing for the base thickness. These should be screwed into the floor with 2.1/2in screws spaced about every 12in. then set the cabinet in place and level with shims; clamp and screw to the net cabinet and into the blocking. 


Step Seven: Install Upper Cabinets 

Draw a level line 19.1/2in above the lower cabinets (18in after the countertop has been installed) and mark the upper cabinet position. The delicate part of hanging the upper cabinets involves having to support them at exactly the right position while you screw them to the wall and to each other. 

After you have marked the stud locations screw the cabinet even with your layout lines. It’s also best to pre-start the cabinet screws before hoisting the cabinets onto the ledger. Also, you may find that some cabinets will only have one stud behind it. This is relatively common and other cabinets will help support it. 

You can now place the next cabinet in its position and screw it into the wall. You must continue to ensure you align the frames and clamp them together as with all cabinets. 


A Few Final Tips on How to install kitchen cabinets from your Accord Cabinet Specialist 

Older kitchens often lack quality lighting and an adequate supply of outlets. If this sounds like your situation we suggest adding more lighting such as a task or indirect or under a cabinet. Adding electrical outlets will also improve  

You should also consider installing new finished flooring before the new cabinets are installed. Rather hardwood flooring, laminate, tile and most vinyl can handle cabinets resting on them with no problem. This does not apply to perimeter-glued vinyl and floating wood laminate floors need to expand and contract freely. Resting cabinets on these may lead to buckling or cracking.  

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