Step 28 – Install Cabinets
Most builders have the cabinets installed first if they are using laminate flooring, but I decided not to. The reasons for installing cabinets first are to save costs on flooring that you will never see or step foot on, and also to ensure that the weight of the cabinets and countertop doesn’t limit the flooring from expanding and contracting as it needs to. While this does go against my mantra of “saving sustainably”, the bathroom vanity that my wife selected is made to go on top of the flooring, so I just decided to put it all in.
The downstairs bathroom vanity was definitely the easiest to install. It basically just slid into place in the corner, and a couple of screws through the back panel into a stud lock it into place. The sink and countertop came as a single piece, and all I had to do was use a caulking gun with pure silicon to attach it to the vanity cabinet. I also used silicone to run a bead of caulk all around the backsplash and sidesplash which I had ordered to match. Cabinets are always easiest to install with the drawers and cabinet doors removed to give you more room to work, and then once the cabinet is secured you can reattach them.
The kitchen cabinets were more difficult to install because it is important that they all line up perfectly with each other so they appear to be one long cabinet. I started with the side where a cabinet meets the wall and used shims to get it plumb and level. Once the cabinet is installed, these shims are cut off and a kick plate is installed to hide them.
Next, I put some screws through the back of the cabinet into the studs in the wall behind. As I did with the screws for the spiral staircase, I predrilled each hole with a countersink bit before installing the screw. I also put the appliances in their proper positions to ensure that there wouldn’t be any gap between the cabinets and the appliances.
With the next cabinet in line, I again used shims to get it plumb and level, and then screwed it to the first cabinet where the drawers will be installed. This ensures that the cabinets will remain lined up perfectly with each other. I also used the screws through the back to attach it to the wall studs.
The last cabinets I installed were the wall cabinets that will go above the kitchen sink area. These cabinets are installed at least eighteen inches above the “base cabinets” so that the counter space is usable. They are installed in the same fashion as the base cabinets with screws both through the back into the wall studs and also through the sides to attach to each other. Obviously the shims are not needed, however. I used some 3/4″ plywood to design the countertop and help me decide what kind of curve I wanted on the corners and which measurements would work best. I will then give the final measurements to the countertop manufacturer.