Are Kitchen Cabinets Hard to Install?

Kitchen cabinets are a big investment. For many, the cabinets are on the top line of the budget with appliances and countertops following close behind. That said, you want to make sure they are installed correctly. So the question on every DIYer’s mind is, are kitchen cabinets hard to install?

Pre-Assembled vs Ready-to-Assemble

Before we talk about the actual installation of your kitchen cabinets, let’s talk about the state your cabinets are in before you attach them to the wall.

If you purchased pre-assembled cabinets, they are already put together and ready to be screwed to the wall. If you ordered ready-to-assemble, you’ll need to put the cabinets together before you can install them. How hard is it to assemble the cabinets?

On a scale of 1 to IKEA, RTA (ready-to-assemble) cabinets are pretty simple. We have a library of resources to help you assemble your cabinets including videos specific to each cabinet model and style.

We also offer (on Quick Ship models) 3D interactive assembly instructions on the BILT app. You can rotate images, zoom in and out, and go at your own pace. Simply download the app for free on your phone or other device to get started.

Take a little tour of how the BILT app works with construction expert, Chip Wade. Or watch a diyer use the app to assemble cabinets.

Secrets to Success: Kitchen Cabinet Installation

Cabinets are big and might feel cumbersome when you think about installing them. But with a few tips and tricks, you’ll make quick work of it (even with very little to no experience).

Remove Door & Shelves

Taking off the door and removing the shelves makes the cabinet a little easier to work with. It’s easier to grasp the cabinet without doors. The cabinet is lighter without doors and shelves. You don’t have to worry about shelves falling out and becoming damaged if you remove them prior to installation.

Person measuring white kitchen cabinets.

Measure & Calculate

For upper cabinets, or wall cabinets, you’ll need to do a bit of measuring and calculating. Calculate for the base cabinets, countertop, and backsplash to figure out where the bottom of your upper cabinets will go.

Standard base cabinets are 34.5 inches. Add to that an inch and a half for the countertop and that brings you to 36 inches (the standard measurement for completed base cabinets). A standard backsplash is 18 inches. So 36 + 18 = 54. Plan to install your wall cabinets about 54 inches from the floor.

Base cabinets don’t need any measurement or calculations. However, be sure to check that they are level and plumb before screwing them into the wall.

Person drilling holes in wood to install kitchen cabinets.

Mark Guidelines

Measure up 54 inches from the floor in several places then use a level to draw a level horizontal line. This is where the bottom of your cabinets will sit.

Use a stud finder to mark where your studs are so you know exactly where to place screws. Most studs are placed about 16 inches apart so once you’ve found one, it’s easier to find the others.

Place a Ledger Board

A ledger board is a straight piece of wood placed as a support on the line where the bottom of your cabinets will sit on the wall. This is 54 inches up from the floor. The ledger board is an indispensable tool to help you install cabinets easily level and at the right height.

Place the supportive ledger board with its upper edge level with the horizontal line you drew before. Screw it into the wall where the studs are so it will give proper support as you install your cabinets.

Attach to the Wall

As easy as it is to install RTA cabinets, when it comes to placing them on the wall, an extra set of hands goes a long way. Place your cabinet on the ledger board then line it up with the stud. Have your friend hold it in place while you screw it into the wall.

It helps to pre-drill your holes so placing the screws is easier. You might have to dry fit your cabinet to see where the screw holes need to go then bring it back down to drill the holes. Though it seems like an extra step, this makes it so much easier.

Replace Doors & Shelves

Once your cabinet is secured to the wall, you can remove the ledger board and replace the doors and shelves. Then, voila, you’ve successfully installed a kitchen cabinet. Repeat the process with the rest of your cabinets.

Are cabinets hard to install? No! With the right tools and a few tricks up your sleeve, you can install kitchen cabinets yourself.

Still have questions about successfully installing kitchen cabinets? Read up on another frequently asked question, which should be installed first–the flooring or the cabinets.

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