Installing Kitchen Cabinets

Installing kitchen cabinets can be a relatively challenging DIY project. Find the info you need to make the process a little easier.

Installing Kitchen Cabinets

Installing Kitchen Cabinets

A contractor working on and installing kitchen cabinets in new home.

Photo by: David Sacks

David Sacks

By: Sean McEvoy

If you're embarking on a kitchen redesign, or contemplating a brand-new kitchen (and you consider yourself quite handy—AND you've got at least one full time assistant lined up for the project), then you may want to consider installing kitchen cabinets as a do-it-yourself project. You'll save a tremendous amount of money—potentially tens of thousands of dollars. But be warned: this project is neither for the faint of heart, nor, more importantly, those inexperienced with construction and carpentry.

Cheap Versus Steep: Kitchen Cabinetry

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Cheap: Refreshed Painted Cabinetry

If your current cabinets are in good shape but could use an aesthetic update, try brushing on a coat of paint to revive your cabinetry and give it a fresh new look. Design by Judith Balis

Photo By: Designer, Judith Balis

Cheap: Simple Stained Cabinets

While cabinetry with ornate embellishments and fancy storage features can be costly, basic flat-front cabinets will give your kitchen a clean and simple look at a reasonable price. Design by Jennifer Nilsen

Mid-Range: Shaker-Style Cabinets

Upgrade from plain, flat-front cabinetry to Shaker-style cabinets, which will give your kitchen a clean, classic look without breaking the bank. According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, Shaker is one of the most popular styles in cabinetry in 2011, second only to traditional. Image courtesy of Atlantis Kitchens

Mid-Range: Special Storage Features

While specialty storage options were once only offered by custom cabinetmakers, these features are now available in mid-priced fixtures as well. Pullout spice racks, utensil drawers and built-in cutting boards are all available at a reasonable cost. Image courtesy of Merillat

Steep: Custom Cabinetry

Homeowners willing to spend significantly more on their kitchen’s cabinetry may opt for custom cabinets, which are built to exact specifications and can come in a wide range of materials, designs, finishes and accessories. Image courtesy of Plain & Fancy

Steep: Sleek Modern Cabinets

An option for larger budgets, sleek cabinetry with a high-gloss finish provides the perfect backdrop for modern or contemporary kitchens.

Assuming you've passed the gut check, you'll first need to carefully remove any existing cabinets without damaging the walls. You may want to use the old cabinets for framing, as well, tracing their outline or measuring them to create a template.

If there are no existing cabinets, you'll need to finish the rough wiring and plumbing in the kitchen before installing new cabinets. Another good idea is to make sure you wait to install finished flooring until after the cabinets are up. This way it won't be damaged during the installation.

Start your installation with one wall cabinet, minus any doors or hardware. Once this cabinet is installed and you've confirmed that it's completely flush and level, you can use it as a guide for the rest of the wall cabinets, then follow suit with the floor cabinets (this way they won't obstruct your work while you install the wall cabinets).

Cabinets are heavy by themselves, but imagine them filled with every conceivable piece of china and glassware. For this reason, be especially careful to ensure that your upper cabinets are firmly secured to a sturdy wall stud, and use appropriate screws, which should fasten the cabinet to the wall stud through a support rail that runs through the back of the cabinet.

Kitchen Cabinet Choices

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