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Take the mystery out of installing kitchen cabinets

Spruce up your kitchen with new cabinets and make the most of your space. If you are on a budget, choosing pre-assembled is a good starting point. Not only are they stylish, but they are easy and quick to install. With a good preparation, the right tools and precision, your new kitchen can be completed in a weekend. So let’s get to it!
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Duration: Week-end project

Prior to delivery:

  • Remove existing counters and cabinets and slide out appliances
  • Do all necessary electrical and plumbing work
  • Fill holes and patch any other marks on the walls
  • Install new flooring

Upon delivery

  • Examine your cabinets for any damage
  • Review the invoice to ensure your order is complete: cabinet boxes, cabinet doors, mouldings and other accessories.

Kitchen prep and measuring

  • 1.1 - Shut off the water supply and disconnect the power supply.
  • 1.2 - Mark the stud locations and use a square to draw vertical lines from floor to ceiling.
  • 1.3 - Determine the highest point of the finished floor and use a laser to mark this height on all walls.
  • 1.4 - Draw a level line 34 ½" from the highest point of the floor. You will use this line to position the base cabinets. Use a square to draw a horizontal line on the walls.
  • 1.5 - Measure 54" to mark the bottom of the wall cabinets
  • 1.6 - Measure 84" to mark the top of 30" wall cabinets, 90" for 36" cabinets and 96" for 42" wall cabinets.
  • 1.7 - Trace the kitchen plan outline on the walls and mark the number and position of each cabinet in the correct location.
  • 1.8 - Ensure there is at least one stud to screw in the middle cabinet boxes and two studs for cabinets at either end.
  • 1.9 - Ensure the exhaust vent for the range hood is correctly located.
  • 1.10 - Check that the wires for the under-cabinet lighting are positioned just above the line.
  • 1.11 - Screw temporary strapping (1" × 3" boards) into the studs along the line where the wall cabinets will be installed. This board will support the cabinets during installation and ensure they are level.

Pro Tip

It is important to start the installation by being level. A self-leveling cross line laser provides automatic leveling on all levels and simplifies the preparation and measuring.

Install the wall cabinets

  • 2.1 - Remove all cabinet doors. Start with the corner cabinet.
  • 2.2 - Behind the corner cabinet, draw a vertical line to mark the stud locations. On this line, make marks 2" from the top, bottom and centre. Drill with a 3/32" bit.
  • 2.3 - Position the corner cabinet on the temporary strapping and screw in temporarily with #10 - 3" screws.
  • 2.4 - Ensure the top of the cabinet is aligned. Check for level: front to back and side to side. Insert shims where necessary and screw through to the studs.
  • 2.5 - Behind the adjacent cabinet, mark the stud locations and drill.
  • 2.6 - Place the cabinet on the strapping and clamp to the corner cabinet at the top and bottom.
  • 2.7 - Check for level in all directions and ensure the face frames are aligned and flush. Shim where necessary.
  • 2.8 - Temporarily screw the cabinet to the wall. Pre-drill two holes in the front of the cabinet box with a 9/64" bit and screw the two cabinets together with #8 – 2 1/2" screws. For 36" and 42" cabinets, use three screws.
  • 2.9 - Repeat the preceding steps for the remaining wall cabinets.
  • 2.10 - Ensure the backs of the cabinets are level, secured and flush with the wall. Shim where necessary.
  • 2.11 - Screw the cabinets securely to the wall studs.
  • 2.12 - Remove the temporary strapping
  • 2.13 - Use a utility knife to trim away protruding shims.
  • 2.14 - Remove the clamps

Install the base cabinets and pantry cabinet

  • 3.1 - Remove all cabinet doors and drawers
  • 3.2 - Make the cutouts for the plumbing and wiring before installing cabinets.
  • 3.3 - Start with the corner cabinet.
  • 3.4 - Behind the cabinet, draw a vertical line to mark the location of the studs. On this line, make marks 2" from the top, bottom and centre. Drill using a 3/23" drill bit.
  • 3.5 - Align the cabinet with the horizontal lines drawn at 34 ½". Check for plumb and level on the two walls. Shim underneath and behind if necessary.
  • 3.6 - Temporarily screw in to the wall with #10 - 3" screws.
  • 3.7 - Behind the adjacent cabinet, mark the locations of the studs and drill.
  • 3.8 - Position the cabinet and clamp the cabinet boxes together.
  • 3.9 - Check for level and screw temporarily to the wall.
  • 3.10 - Predrill two holes in the front of the box with a 9/64" bit and screw the two cabinets together with #8 - 2½" screws.
  • 3.11 - Repeat the preceding steps for the remaining base cabinets.
  • 3.12 - Check for level and securely screw the cabinets to the wall studs.
  • 3.13 - Use a utility knife to trim away protruding shims.

Install fillers

  • 4.1 - Measure the space to fill between cabinets or between the cabinet and wall.
  • 4.2 - Mark the measurement on the tall filler or filler strip. Use a pencil compass to draw the line if the wall is uneven.
  • 4.3 - Cut the filler to length at a 7o à 10o angle to fit properly against the wall.
  • 4.4 - Position the filler and clamp to the box of the adjacent cabinet.
  • 4.5 - Predrill the front of the box with a 9/64" bit and screw in using #8 – 2 ½" screws.


  • 5.1 - Reinstall all doors and drawers.
  • 5.2 - Use a template to mark the locations for the door and drawer handles.
  • 5.3 - Predrill then screw in handles or knobs.
  • 5.4 - Measure then nail in base cabinet toe kicks.
  • 5.5 - Install crown mouldings and finishing trim.

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