How to Install Kitchen Cabinets (step-by-step guide)

How to Install Kitchen Cabinets

Installing kitchen cabinets can be a challenging yet rewarding DIY project. Whether you are looking to upgrade your kitchen or simply want to add a touch of personalization, installing cabinets on your own can save you money and give you a sense of achievement. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started on your kitchen cabinet installation. Remember that specific instructions may vary based on the type of cabinets you have and your kitchen’s layout.

Small kitchen cabinets hanging at the top
Small kitchen cabinets hanging at the top (Credit: Taryn Elliott)

Tools and Materials You’ll Need:

To begin your kitchen cabinet installation journey, gather the following tools and materials:

  • Kitchen cabinets: Ensure that you have the appropriate cabinets for your kitchen, keeping in mind aesthetic preferences and storage requirements.
  • Cabinet screws: Choose sturdy screws that are specifically designed for cabinet installation to ensure the longevity and stability of your cabinets.
  • Wall studs finder: This invaluable tool will help you locate the wall studs behind the walls, enabling you to securely attach your cabinets.
  • Level: A level will assist you in ensuring that your cabinets are perfectly straight and aligned, providing both functional and aesthetic benefits.
  • Measuring tape: Accurate measurements are essential for a seamless cabinet installation. Use a measuring tape to accurately determine heights and distances.
  • Pencil: Marking the wall, studs, and other measurements will help guide you throughout the installation process.
  • Screwdriver or drill: Depending on your preference, choose the appropriate tool to drive in the screws during installation.
  • Shims: These thin, wedge-like pieces of material will aid in adjusting and leveling the cabinets, compensating for any irregularities in your kitchen walls or floors.
  • Clamps: If you don’t have an extra pair of hands, clamps will be your best friend. They will ensure that the cabinets stay in place while you work on securing them.
  • Wood filler: Fill any gaps between the cabinets and the wall using wood filler for a polished look.
  • Sandpaper: Smooth out any rough or uneven surfaces with sandpaper after applying wood filler.
  • Cabinet hardware (handles/knobs): To add the finishing touches to your cabinets, choose handles or knobs that complement your kitchen’s style.
  • Safety goggles: Eye protection is crucial when working with tools and installing cabinets.
  • Gloves: Wear gloves to protect your hands from potential injuries during the installation process.


To successfully install your kitchen cabinets, follow these step-by-step instructions:

Step 1: Prepare the Workspace

Before diving into the installation process, it’s essential to prepare your workspace properly. Follow these steps:

  • Clear the kitchen area: Remove any obstacles and furniture from the kitchen to create ample space for maneuvering during the installation process.
Housewife clearing the kitchen area
Housewife clearing the kitchen area (Credit: SHVETS)
  • Clean the kitchen: Ensure that the kitchen is clean and free from any debris that might interfere with the installation process.
  • Protect the floors: Cover the floors with drop cloths or protective sheets to prevent any potential damage during the installation process.

Step 2: Locate Wall Studs

Locating wall studs is crucial as they provide the necessary support for the cabinets. Follow these steps:

  • Use a wall stud finder: Utilize a wall stud finder to locate the studs hidden behind the walls. This will help you determine the secure points of attachment for your cabinets.
Alex Ratson using wall stud finder
Alex Ratson/Moment via Getty Images
  • Mark stud locations: Mark the locations of the studs on the wall using a pencil. These marks will serve as reference points during the installation process.

Step 3: Measure and Mark

To ensure a precise and accurate installation, take the following steps:

Measure your kitchen cabinets
(Photo Credit: Ana)
  • Measure cabinet height: Using a measuring tape, measure the height from the floor to the bottom of the wall cabinets. Consider any variations caused by uneven flooring and mark this measurement on the wall.
  • Adjust for variations: If there are significant variations due to the flooring, make necessary adjustments when positioning the cabinets.

Step 4: Install the Upper Cabinets

Begin the installation process by installing the upper cabinets. Follow these steps:

Installing Kitchen Cabinets
(Photo Credit: Ana White)
  • Start with a corner cabinet: Begin with a corner cabinet or one closest to the corner. This will serve as a reference point for the remaining upper cabinets.
  • Position and level the cabinet: Place the cabinet on the marked line at the desired height and use a level to ensure its straightness. Adjust with shims if necessary.
  • Secure the cabinet: With the help of a friend or clamps, hold the cabinet in place while you secure it to the wall studs using cabinet screws. Make sure the screws penetrate the studs for a sturdy installation.
  • Repeat the process: Repeat the above process for the remaining upper cabinets, ensuring they are level, properly aligned, and adequately secured.

Step 5: Install the Lower Cabinets

Continue your cabinet installation journey by installing the lower cabinets. Follow these steps:

  • Start with a corner cabinet: Similar to the upper cabinets, begin the lower cabinet installation with a corner cabinet or one closest to the corner.
  • Position and level: Place the cabinets in their designated spots, ensuring they are level and properly aligned. Make any necessary adjustments with shims.
  • Toe kick alignment: If your cabinets have a toe kick area, ensure they are properly aligned and leveled to maintain consistency throughout the installation.

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Step 6: Join Cabinets Together

If your cabinet design requires joining cabinets together, follow these steps:

  • Cabinet connectors or screws: Use cabinet connectors or screws designed for joining cabinets to create a secure and seamless fit.
corner cabinet in a kitchen
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions: Depending on the type of cabinets you are installing, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific methods and hardware required for joining cabinets.

Step 7: Install Cabinet Doors and Drawers

To complete the functional aspect of your cabinet installation, follow these steps:

  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions: Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for attaching doors and drawers to the cabinets. This typically involves using hinges, slides, and knobs or handles.
  • Follow a systematic approach: Take your time to ensure that each door and drawer is properly aligned, level, and secure. Double-check that they operate smoothly.

Step 8: Check for Level and Alignment

After the installation is complete, carefully inspect your work to ensure precision. Follow these steps:

  • Verify levelness: Use a level to ensure that each cabinet is level and aligned correctly. Make any necessary adjustments to guarantee a visually pleasing result.
  • Secure attachments: Double-check that all cabinets are securely attached to the wall studs to ensure stability and safety.

Step 9: Finishing Touches

To achieve a polished and professional look, complete the following steps:

  • Fill gaps with wood filler: Fill any gaps between the cabinets and the wall using wood filler. Allow the filler to dry completely before proceeding.
  • Sand the filler: After the wood filler has dried, carefully sand the filled areas with sandpaper to create a smooth finish.
  • Install trim or molding: Add any remaining trim or molding to enhance the overall aesthetic of your kitchen cabinets.

Step 10: Install Hardware

Give your cabinets a personal touch by installing hardware such as handles or knobs. Follow these steps:

  • Design preference: Attach the handles or knobs to the cabinet doors and drawers according to your design preferences. Make sure they are aligned and secure.

Step 11: Final Inspection

Before admiring your hard work, conduct a final inspection. Follow these steps:

  • Thorough examination: Inspect your cabinets to ensure that everything is secure, level, and aligned. Take the time to open and close all doors and drawers to check for smooth operation.

Remember, while this guide provides general instructions, it’s crucial to follow the specific instructions provided by the manufacturer of your cabinets. If you encounter any difficulties or are unsure about any step in the process, it’s safer to consult with professionals or seek assistance to ensure a safe and successful installation.

Installing kitchen cabinets can be a fulfilling experience, allowing you to unleash your creativity while improving the functionality and aesthetics of your kitchen. With the right tools, materials, and attention to detail, you can transform your kitchen into a space that perfectly suits your needs and style.

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