How to Speed Up Your Kitchen Cabinet Installation

 

How to attach kitchen cabinets to the wall


ANYONE fitting out a kitchen for the first time will know how daunting it is. You first open up those flat-pack packages and brood over them! How do these components fit together to make anything like a kitchen cabinet.

Time for a cuppa and some avoidance! Kettle on and launch into a conversation with our nearest and dearest. Mother-in-law’s impending visit! The kids’ current school project. Clean out the gutters! Anything, to avoid the daunting prospect of putting these confounding jigsaws together. Before we even attempt the all-important task of attaching them to the walls!

Faced with such an onerous task? Most of us will appreciate any tips on kitchen cabinet installation. First we have to understand how the units themselves are actually fitted together. As a starting point what we need is a step by step guide to fitting all the components together!

This usually comes in the form of an accompanying diagrammatic booklet! Written in several different European languages! The most prevalent of which often seems to be Double Dutch!

Over the years I have inflicted kitchen cabinet assembly upon myself several times. I should have had a swear box ready to hand! A sizeable amount of money would be in it by now. Enough for sure to pay a professional next time!

So when faced with dozens of cardboard packages where do you begin? I've learned over the years and here’s my step-by-step guide.


1. Sort through everything

Often the individual components which make up each separate cabinet may not be in a single large box. Likey they are in half a dozen or so smaller packages. 

Want to save a great deal of time and energy in the long run? Before you even open a single box take the time and trouble to identify which boxes go together. Place them in separate piles.

Space is essential. Whether you are undertaking the work in a new built space or in a gutted old existing kitchen. You want to working in an empty room. 

Identify a wall which will not be part of your new kitchen plan. Line the boxes up in separate piles, with each one corresponding to an individual cabinet. 

If you don’t have space to do this in the kitchen, a good alternative is to use the hallway in the house. It can be ideal. A long, narrow passageway to line the boxes up starting with the unit you will be making up first. 

Tip: NEVER open more than one set of boxes at a time. Construct your first unit and then only move on to the next when finished. It avoids wasting time and so much unnecessary frustration.

2. Gather together the required tools.

Before you even start, gather together all the tools that you are likely to need. , making sure that you have screwdrivers with an assortment of different heads. 

It never ceases to amaze me! Why kitchen manufacturers find it necessary to use such a variety of heads in an individual unit. I presume that they are working on a commission basis with screwdriver manufacturers!

Needless to say you will be using power tools to construct your units. Give them a health check before you start. Make sure they are well charged. In essence. Get everything set before you start. That's a great way to speed up your kitchen cabinet installation. 

3. Compartmentalise small components

A word of warning here! Don’t reach for the Stanley knife and slice through the tape. You may well cut into the surface of one of the components of your new kitchen cabinet in the process. Open the box, but always do so CAREFULLY.

We know you will find piles of small fixtures and fittings. Open the cellophane packaging with care. Seldom are they pre-sorted. They are often very alike to look at, but each with a different function. Getting this right will save you time!

Sort through them segregating the different parts. Placing each in a separate small container. Old takeaway cartons can be great. Check that you have the requisite number before you start assembly. It's very frustrating. You get halfway through assembly then discover you are fixtures short to completion. Big time waster.

4. Find yourself an old bath towel.

No, not to mop your fevered brow! But to layout on the floor or on top of your raised work bench. That's your "Safe Zone". Make sure NEVER to leave the odd metal fitting laying around on top of it. An indentation on the “good side” of the next kitchen cabinet that you are putting together will cost you!

5. Read the manufacturer’s instructions

Spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself to understand the sequence of necessary tasks. Get this wrong and time is going to get wasted. 

Get one simple operation out of sequence and it may well mean that your unit will NEVER fit together. Taking the whole thing apart and starting again from scratch is horrid. Unbuilding is such a waste of time and so frustrating! 

Do not imagine that you know best! The manufacturer will understand how it all fits together far better than you will. There is never an easy shortcut to getting it right. 

Print on the instruction sheets on the small side? Like me, you rely on reading glasses? Then make sure to have your spectacles to hand please! 

6. Get the hang of it!

Remember that the first unit you put together will take longer to construct than the rest. Start with small simple units. Single base units are best. Work your way up to the more complicated corner units with carousels. 

Most units construct in a similar manner. Understand the basic principles involved. Once that's achieved you should whistle through much easier. As well as digging into your pocket far less often to add to the swear box! 

Cut down the frustration and speed up your fit!

7. Set yourself a goal.

Don’t do too much in one go! Remember that “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and nor is your new kitchen ever going to be complete in 24 hours. Start the job on a Saturday morning and you are not going to be cooking tomorrow’s Sunday roast in your new oven!

Plan to eat out, or at least make sure that you have the menus for a nearby take-away to hand. Forget the washing up too. You are not likely to have your new kitchen sink plumbed in and ready to use by the end of Day One. But don't forget you do have water in the bathroom! If the dirty dishes are beginning to stack up, they can always get a soak in the bath, or even join you in the shower!

8. Take time to save time

Needless to say, you will want the job finished as soon as possible. But take time to think and plan. A detail like raising the base units up an inch can save masses of plynth trimming. Always think ahead. 

Have the tiles you are planning to use to hand and measure the amount of space they need. Allow for worktops and set the correct space between work surface and wall units. 

Get it so that the space between the work surface and the wall cabinets equals the tiles including grout. This will save yourself a whole heap of tile cutting and give you the best looking finish.

Avoid another classic mistake. Get the cooker hood height set right. Raising the height of an extraction hood by an extra inch or so may have a result! That you are not forever bumping your head on it whilst cooking on the hob!

9. Think of the purpose for each cabinet

Try to decide what kitchen items you will be storing in each of your units. Sort this BEFORE you set about installing the shelving. Then you won't find yourself changing them later.

Moving those annoying little pegs up and down is frustrating and can cause breakout. It's an irritating job so get it right first time! 

10. Enlist some help

Make sure that there is somebody there to help. Don’t believe those film clips! Often found on YouTube. Those ones where an individual moves at a snails pace and single handed. Then seems to finish in less time than it takes to prepare an evening meal. 

There are always going to be tasks which need a second pair of hands. Even if it is a simple case of having someone to hold something in place. A good helper will perform an essential part of the construction and can be a godsend. 

A few words of encouragement from your assistant? A bit of moral support! Someone else to put the kettle on and make you stop can make all the difference.
 

So where do we begin?

Here are our Top Kitchen Cabinet Installation Tips to make sure that your new kitchen goes in a treat.

  • Once you have received your kitchen, check that all the parts are there and in good condition. Be wary of any damaged packaging, which may well conceal sub-standard contents. Have your order list to hand and check everything off. 
  • You should only dismantle your old kitchen once you have all your new parts and appliances. Missing parts can cause lengthy delays. You might find yourself eating out more often than your wallet can afford for far too long!
  • Always store your kitchen parts and new worktops indoors. Allow them to acclimatise to normal room temperature and normal humidity levels. 
  • Begin the task of removing your old kitchen. Making sure that the electricity, water and gas are all turned off before you start. Always use a qualified professional to deal with the supply of electricity, gas and water. 
  • Once you have removed your old kitchen units prepare your room. Now is also the right time to do all your making good. Prime and paint your walls. Install any new floor tiling if you want it to run under your units.


Marking out cabinet positions

  1. Make a drawing of the layout of your new kitchen on the wall. Check that everything fits with the measurements from your plan. Check that the services are where you need them. 
  2. Survey your empty space by checking the square of your corners and that your walls are plumb. Make sure you note the highest point of the floor and anywhere that the corners are not square.
  3. Double check that your wall is strong enough to hang your cabinets. It is always best to install your fixings into a stud, or a support beam. An electronic stud finder can be helpful for this purpose.
  4. In most kitchens it’s best to install your wall cabinets first. This will allow you to work and to move around without the base units getting in the way all the time. 
  5. One exception is if you are installing a single line kitchen with a high cabinet at one end. In this case it's a good idea that you install the high cabinet first. Tall housings will often govern the height of wall units.
  6. Before you begin, mark the location of all plumbing and other utilities. Some cabinets have ready-made openings for plumbing pipes and utilities. If necessary though create your own apertures before fitting the cabinets in place.
  7. Assemble all the wall cabinet frames and use those instructions! Wait until later before fitting drawers, doors and internal fittings.
  8. Hang the corner cabinet first before hanging the remaining cabinets. Hold off tightening the fixings until the base cabinets are in place. That way you can ensure alignment.
  9. Assemble all the base cabinets according to the assembly instructions. Make sure to have the legs attached and build them in the correct order i.e. the order you want to fit them.
  10. Having identified the high and low point in the floor - use it! Make sure the base cabinet height is right to not have to trim all those plynths.
  11. If you are installing a corner carousel, now is the time to place it inside the cabinet.
  12. Make sure that the correct base cabinet aligns with your wall cabinets. Check that each cabinet is level and aligned with the previous one by fine-tuning those legs. Be mindful you don't undo your survey and bring the units down too low! 
  13. If you've a tall housing don't forget to add it's decor panel before installing adjacent units.
  14. Use filler pieces between your cabinets and walls. They give that fitted look to the whole kitchen. They are also often necessary to give space to protruding handles. If a cabinet is too close to a wall it might mean the door can't open fully.
  15. Check your walls using a spirit level. If the wall is even and square they are a simple task of measuring and cutting. 
  16. If your wall is not level and flat, the filler piece must be "scribed" to fit to the wall’s shape. To do this, you will need a filler piece, a measuring tape, a small block of wood about 3cm thick and a pencil. 


What is "Scribing"?

Scribing is the process of shaping a piece of wood exactly to the wall. If you haven't done it before it's YouTube time for real this time! There are some great simple videos that take you step by step on how to trace the wall shape onto your filler piece. There are an array of pencil holders and tools to help with this job. We like to use an invention that a fellow inventer came up with, named U-Scribe Jig. A block of wood or a pair of compasses will do the job though. 

Here is a simple explanation on how U-Scribe Jig works.
 

 

Once you have traced the shape of the wall onto the filler piece cut along your trace line. Place the new cut edge of the filler piece against the wall and it should fit a treat. Trim it top and bottom. To support the filler piece in place use a baton to the wall and holes through the sides of the cabinet. When all your filler pieces are in position caulk will give that final finishing touch. Finally, if you are installing a kitchen island it'll be the last build. If it's not floating on castors fix it to the floor - Create a baton frame for it to sit on. Fasten the frame to both the floor and the cabinets. 

Be careful. Floors have electricity, heating pipes etc. in them just like walls. When attaching the frame to the floor be aware and use your stud finder here too!
 

Use "Space-Plug" adjustable spacer fixings!

The fast way to attach your kitchen base cabinets to the wall. These are still new. Even some professional kitchen fitters may not be aware of them. But this particular kitchen cabinet installation tip is a no brainer. So, here is the heads-up on what are the best possible fixings to fit your kitchen. Fast, simple, accurate and professional!
 


 

It goes without saying a fitted kitchen should be fitted securely. This is where Space-Plug can rise to the challenge. As a rule, your new kitchen base cabinets will come with some "L" brackets. These can be fiddly, weak, time-consuming, unsightly, and inaccurate. Space-Plug offers a simple, cost-effective alternative to these!

These fast, simple and professional plastic adjustable spacers are now sold worldwide. Invented by a former fitter and have reached sales of over 6 million units to date. Invented by the company’s proprietor, Cliff Petit when he was working as a kitchen fitter himself. It was then that he came up with the solution to an age-old problem. He invented the adjustable spacer fixing and setup selling his product through his new company Space-Plug!

With its great flexibility, Space-Plug's adjustable spacer fixing proved to be an ideal problem solver. Anyone undertaking a kitchen make-over should have Space-Plug adjustable spacers to hand.

Drill straight through the cabinet and into the wall behind. No need to move a unit and so fast and 100% accurate. You usually only need 1 per unit too so that makes them even faster. Put your wall plug in. Thread your screw and locate. Unwind your Space-Plug to fit and tighten up. Job done!

It is as simple as that and will speed up your kitchen cabinet installation no end. 

Professional kitchen fitter, or DIY'er fitting your own replacement kitchen? Space-Plug IS “The kitchen fitter’s friend”.

To buy either Space-Plug Adjustable Spacer Fixing or U-Scribe Jig - vist the Space-Plug Shop

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