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Install Base Cabinets

Now that you’ve prepped your installation area and installed the upper cabinets, installing the base cabinets is easy.

Before You Begin

plywood subfloor

If you’re installing a new floor, this is the best time to do so since you can run it under the cabinetry – unless you’re installing a floating floor.  A floating floor should be installed after the cabinetry, but the cabinetry must be raised to a height just above the flooring. Otherwise, you'll have trouble installing appliances later.

Good to Know

Cut plywood strips to the thickness of your new floating floor and underlayment.  Before tacking the strips, level them with shims.  This will make installation easier.

Base Cabinet Installation

Good to Know

Remove cabinet doors and drawers before you begin for easier installation.

Step 1

measuring distance to stud

Starting with a corner, use the guides you marked on the walls to transfer the stud locations to the cabinets, taking care to account for the face frame.  Drill the holes and set the corner cabinet in place.  The horizontal line on the wall is your main guide. The line on the floor is your secondary guide.  Line up the top and shim underneath the base, front and back to get it level and plumb.

Good to Know

If the wall is extremely bowed, shims can keep the cabinet square and fill the space between the base and the wall.

Step 2

aligning cabinetry

When everything aligns, drive the screws at the back just tight enough to hold the cabinet in place.

Step 3

shimming the cabinet

For the second cabinet, drill pilot holes through the back and position the cabinet next to the first.  Even the faces, shimming where necessary as shown, and clamp the cabinet faces together.  Drive screws into the back, just tight enough to hold it in place.

Step 4

drilling through cabinet face frames

Drill pilot holes with a countersink / taper bit through the face frames and connect the cabinets with #8 screws.

Good to Know

If your wall is bowed, glue shims over the stud lines where you’ll secure the mounting screws. This will prevent the cabinet backs from bowing when you drive in the screws.

Good to Know

To even cabinet tops against the back wall, shim under the cabinet base against the wall.

Step 5

drilling a hole for plumbing

Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you reach the sink base. 

When you get to the sink base, cut the holes for plumbing in the back and install the cabinet like the rest.

Good to Know

As you progress, keep the screws loose so you can realign as you go. You’ll go back and retighten later.  Keep the faces and tops lined up with your reference line.

Step 6

shim at the cabinet base

If you did not raise your cabinets for floating floors, you’ll likely need to shim under the base near the wall.  Use the shim of the adjacent cabinet as a guide. When you cut that shim, cut another and leave it in place.

Step 7

gap at end of cabinet row

When you reach the end of the row, don’t be alarmed if you have a space at the end.  Set the last cabinet in place without connecting it and measure the gap at the top and bottom. Mark and cut the filler strip.

Step 8

scribing a line onto the filler strip

For uneven walls, clamp the filler strip to the frame. Use a compass to scribe a line following the contours of the wall and cut at a 7- to 10-degree bevel. Check the width of the piece, mark and cut the cabinet side if you need to – or use a plane for minor adjustments. Clamp the filler piece flush to the cabinet, drill holes through the frame and attach the piece with screws.

Step 9

removing the clamps from cabinet face frames

Once all the cabinets are connected, tighten the rear screws and remove the clamps.

Step 10

If you have spaces without frame to support the countertop, such as end walls and corner cabinets, attach 1-by-2s to the wall with screws.

Step 11

toe kicks in place on new cabinetry

Cut and attach the toekicks with finishing nails.  If you’re installing a floating floor, complete your flooring installation before this step.


Don’t add the drawers and doors just yet.  You still have to attach the countertop.

Need help installing a laminate countertop?  We'll show you how or Lowe's Installation Services can do the job for you.