How hard is it to install cabinets?

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corn18
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How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by corn18 »

DW went and visited Lowes today to plan out a bar area in the basement. I don't mind paying someone to install it, but I have a DIY itch. Need something to do. How hard is it to install something like this? The backside of the wall is bare in the unfinished part of the basement, so I can easily do all the electrical and plumbing. Appreciate your thoughts.

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RedDog
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by RedDog »

I usually watch a few related YouTube DIY videos to gauge my confidence to tackle projects.
adamthesmythe
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by adamthesmythe »

I have never done this. However I would expect alignment and leveling to be tricky. You will need a helper to lift and hold things.
Normchad
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by Normchad »

If you’re reasonably hand, you can totally do this.

Some cabinets are easier than others though. Id highly recommend you get cabinets that use some sort of hanging system. For these, the first part of installation is to attach a long horizontal mounting bar to the wall. Once that’s up, the cabinets just attach to it. It makes it possible to do the entire thing all by yourself.

If you don’t do use cabinets with a hanging system, then it’s harder. Somebody has to physically hold each cabinet in place, while somebody else tries w it to the wall. And as your arms get tired, the cabinets move, and get crooked, etc. there are ways to mitigate this, it’s just tougher….
Californiastate
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by Californiastate »

It shouldn’t be too hard with reasonable DIY skills. Watch some videos. Buy some shims and a good 4’ level.
makeitcount
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by makeitcount »

Normchad wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:45 pm If you’re reasonably hand, you can totally do this.

Some cabinets are easier than others though. Id highly recommend you get cabinets that use some sort of hanging system. For these, the first part of installation is to attach a long horizontal mounting bar to the wall. Once that’s up, the cabinets just attach to it. It makes it possible to do the entire thing all by yourself.

If you don’t do use cabinets with a hanging system, then it’s harder. Somebody has to physically hold each cabinet in place, while somebody else tries w it to the wall. And as your arms get tired, the cabinets move, and get crooked, etc. there are ways to mitigate this, it’s just tougher….
I agree with the above.
Installed similar in our home a few years back. Gave father-in-law a beer (or two) to come over and help me keep the uppers steady while my wife buzzed in a few screws. Wasn't bad at all.
123
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by 123 »

The expertise of a cabinet installer is evident when uneven walls, floors, and ceilings are encountered. A professional installer is able to accommodate out-of-square conditions. A DIYer may not detect certain conditions timely, causing a reworking of the installation (maybe more than once).
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Sandtrap
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by Sandtrap »

corn18 wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:14 pm DW went and visited Lowes today to plan out a bar area in the basement. I don't mind paying someone to install it, but I have a DIY itch. Need something to do. How hard is it to install something like this? The backside of the wall is bare in the unfinished part of the basement, so I can easily do all the electrical and plumbing. Appreciate your thoughts.

Image
Per your photo?

Random Notes:
1. Layout and prep is crucial. Plan everything. Draw on the wall if you have to.
2. Plumbing supply lines and drains rough in to correct positions. And per code.
3. Electrical per code. Nailing plates over wires and plumbing lines per code.
4. Add studs and blocking where the anchor points on the cabs are going to be so you can install the cab anchors spaced right.
5. Use the correct length fasteners. Upgrade to larger size than standard drywall screws for the cabs.
6. I helps a lot to use jigs and even a temporary wall ledger besides another person, "T" supports, ladders, 6 foot level.
7. Snap a fine string line to level the top edge of the top back edge of the base cabs, and a long straight edge like a long 6-8 foot level or the length of a drywall "t" square, without the cross piece as well.
8. Dry fit everything and each thing before installing.
9. Have enough shims for the base cabs, there are never enough shims.
10. Own a countersink bit and a center punch bit so the cab back upper and lower ledger screws are countersunk nicely. And, also the long screws that join the cabs on the front face frames.
10b. Only screw the cabs into the wall through the top horizontal and bottom horizontal ledgers in the cabs. Screw at least at every stud and 2-3 inches before the end of the cab. This is why you preinstalled horizontal blocking when the wall was open.
11. The front face frames must line up perfectly on the bottom and top edge and vertically on the seam. Just a little off and it's an eye sore. Pre drill after using the countersink bit. Use a much smaller bit and be sure it sinks well into the opposite cab face frame. Join every upper cab as well as the base cabs once everything is lined up. Do this last. If you have to repeatedly do over this step, you can crack the face frame.
12. Predrill too big and the screws are not tight, too little and you crack the cab.
13. You can never have the sink location to cab placement too perfect, or the plumbing drain line ups too perfect. Get those right.
14. Be sure the type of sink you get lines up on the interior of the cabinet, sides and front and back.
15. Everything has to fit together and line up right, base cabs, plumbing, countertop, sink, etc.
16. Put the doors back on as the very very last and final step. Take them off as the very lst step when unpacking. Label where they go and put them back where they came from.
17. The impact driver can also snap screws and crack the cab if you don't have a good touch. Use long screws. B Careful.
18. Professional cab installers have tons of tools and tricks to get everything perfect and lined up and plumb and level.
19. No floor and wall is perfect. Most walls are not straight as they have been taped and mudded on the seams. And, no studs are straight. So expect that the back of the counter might not align across the entire wall, nor the back of the base cabs. So be ready for that. Line up the front top edge of the base cabs n shim as needed. Line up the height of the back of the base cabs as well so the counter sits flat and straight. And, the front face frames line up as well.
20. Do very nice cutouts for utilities so the escucheon trim plates cover the holes up well.
21. Install the upper cabs first, then the base cabs.
22. If you are also framing and drywall and taping/mudding. Do a really nice very flat even surface, skim coat as needed. It will payoff on the cab install.
23. Again, pre install a temporary 1x2 ledger on the wall to support and align the upper cabs when installing them. Have someone on a ladder hold it against the wall as you double check then sink your screws in. It's easier to align and level, etc, the ledger than try to line up the cab on a line on the wall. Then, patch and paint the ledger screw holes when you take it off later.
24. “Torx Drive screws min 1-1/2” into the wood plus drywall plus cab ledger for total length at a minimum.

j :D
Last edited by Sandtrap on Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:34 am, edited 3 times in total.
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nedsaid
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by nedsaid »

Sandtrap, I can see that you learned a lot from having rental real estate.

While I am thinking about it, I do have a few things around my condo that need fixing. :wink:
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Watty
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by Watty »

corn18 wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:14 pm DW went and visited Lowes today to plan out a bar area in the basement.
Some random comments.

1) In the photo it looks like there is about a six inch gap between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling. You will hate that since that is very hard to clean and thick dust will accumulate there.

2) Carefully consider how you will get all the cabinets and countertops into the basement. That could be a lot of work in some houses and if you have a 12 foot countertop you may not be able to get the countertop into the basement if you don't have a walkout basement door.
123
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by 123 »

Are you installing a dishwasher or will you be lugging glasses and dishes back and forth to your kitchen?

What type of counter top? If marble or similar material will you be doing the sink and faucet cutouts yourself? A marble/quartz/granite countertop with cutouts could run you a $ignificant amount. If you are going DIY installation I would recommend a laminate countertop of some kind. If you crack a marble/quartz/granite countertop during installation it takes all the fun out of the project.
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phxjcc
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by phxjcc »

Like very thing else, it is the last 10% that matters.

Cabinets are relatively easy, some (like IKEA) have ingenious hanging systems, others you need to install your own strips.
A lot of people snub IKEA, but I have them in a rental and two years in they are looking good….and if something happens, you can always order another front/box because IKEA will be here, but Bob from Bob’s Custom Cabinets might not be.

The hard part is the trim pieces, corners, cabinet gaps and making sure everything is level and plumb, even when the walls, floors and ceilings are not. I once spent 10 minutes installing the cabinets and two days cutting and building the trim pieces to make it look good.
ALWAYS ORDER EXTRA TRIM….be happy to throw it away when it is not needed. This comes as a sheet of material that you need to cut to fit.

If you take your time and measure (at least) twice and cut once, you can do this.

As /sandtrap says, prep is important.

Try Cabinets to Go.
Started by the Lumber Liquidators guy.
They will do a CAD layout for you with their cabinet sizes.
Good quality, I used them in a master bath and two years later they have held up well.

Buy a jig for a guide doing the handles to maintain identical spacing, it makes life a LOT easier.
Best $20 you will spend.

Pro tip: most handles come with machine screws that are too short to go through door fronts….and you usually find this out at 8:01 pm on Sunday night…when Ace closes at 8:00.
Check your hardware before installation begins.

Also, think about using kitchen cabinets in the bathroom and/or raising the platform base—higher counters are easier on older backs.
If you raise the platform base…then you need a plan for the toe kick, however….see trim piece advise above.

:sharebeer
tibbitts
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by tibbitts »

123 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:38 am Are you installing a dishwasher or will you be lugging glasses and dishes back and forth to your kitchen?

What type of counter top? If marble or similar material will you be doing the sink and faucet cutouts yourself? A marble/quartz/granite countertop with cutouts could run you a $ignificant amount. If you are going DIY installation I would recommend a laminate countertop of some kind. If you crack a marble/quartz/granite countertop during installation it takes all the fun out of the project.
Based on my limited experience working with laminate countertops, I'd suggest practicing... a lot. I never got to the point of getting nearly professional results. I'd figure on at least one day for every hour it would take a pro.
Starfish
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by Starfish »

Watty wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:05 am
corn18 wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:14 pm DW went and visited Lowes today to plan out a bar area in the basement.
Some random comments.

1) In the photo it looks like there is about a six inch gap between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling. You will hate that since that is very hard to clean and thick dust will accumulate there.
How is that hard to clean? What is easier than to get on a chair or the countertop and wipe it?
wineandplaya
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by wineandplaya »

Currently redoing our kitchen with IKEA cabinets. No prior experience. Their hanging system is really great, allowing me to do almost all the work without help. A caveat is that there is a limited number of sizes available, but if your geometry is easy enough, that shouldn't be an issue.

We're getting professionals to do the quartz countertop.
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by rascott »

Starfish wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 3:33 am
Watty wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:05 am
corn18 wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:14 pm DW went and visited Lowes today to plan out a bar area in the basement.
Some random comments.

1) In the photo it looks like there is about a six inch gap between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling. You will hate that since that is very hard to clean and thick dust will accumulate there.
How is that hard to clean? What is easier than to get on a chair or the countertop and wipe it?


Not sure that hard to clean.... but from a look/design perspective I much prefer cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling. In this situation in particular, having those cabs go to the ceiling along with the crown would be a much higher end look.
rascott
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by rascott »

I think this is totally doable DIY.... if you have moderate skills. Just take your time. I would do a stone material countertop/undermount sink and leave that part to the pro fabricators/installers.

For plumbing.... do you already have the rough-in? If not, installing a drain in a basement is no simple task.
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by alpenglow »

Consistently sets low goals and fails to achieve them.
Given your sig, maybe you should hire someone. :twisted:
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Watty
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by Watty »

Starfish wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 3:33 am How is that hard to clean? What is easier than to get on a chair or the countertop and wipe it?
If it is a nine foot ceiling then they would be 8.5 feet high and the tops may also not be smooth and finished or flush with the top of the moulding.

At some point you will not be a teenager and will start to be concerned about breaking a hip if you fall so you will take the time to get a real ladder if you need to get up high to clean something like that. Hauling a ladder from garage to the basement will be harder and when you are 60+ you may not be able to do it at some point.

If the top is unfinished then unfinished particle board will snag a dust cloth and the moulding around the top may be several inched higher than than top of the cabinet.

One other factor is that if the cabinets are near the stairs going down into the basement then you may be able to see the tops of the cabinets when you are on the stairs. If the tops are unfinished or dusty then that will not look good.
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lthenderson
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by lthenderson »

corn18 wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:14 pm How hard is it to install something like this?
Lots of great advice up above. I've installed cabinets (most I have made too) many times and unless I missed it, there is one factoid that is really important in determining the ease of hanging them. Are the cabinet doors overlay or inset? All mine that I have made and installed were overlay but when we redid our entire kitchen a few years back, we purchased cabinets with inset doors. Purchased cabinets are a lot more flexible than mine built mostly from 3/4" thick plywood and inset doors means the gap around the doors is very visible and one must be very exact in getting things plumb, level and square. It took me probably ten times longer installing those cabinets than it would have had they had overlay doors and even then, there were times when I just wanted to throw cabinets out doors and set them on fire. I will probably never again get inset doors again as a result even though I think the finished look now that I'm done looks impressive.

Another thing to consider is countertop material. If you are going with some stone countertops, they have very strict guidelines on how unlevel the top of your cabinets can be in order to ensure your countertop doesn't crack into pieces when placed on top. Whether or not you have the necessary attention to detail, tools and skills to do this yourself is something only you can probably decide.
whomever
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by whomever »

Something like this:

https://www.fastcap.com/product/little-hand?cat=46

helps a lot with upper cabinets. That's the brand I have, but I see cheaper clones on amazon.

Make sure you get the correct fasteners and use enough of them ... I've seen pics where upper cabinets fall off when loaded. That's bad :-)

Agree with the comments above that walls aren't flat ... fitting them to the walls is the tedious part.
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khangaroo
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by khangaroo »

We redid our basement rental with IKEA cabinets but no upper cabinets, just shelves on brackets. We also opted for a butcher block countertop where we bought a big slab from Home Depot and cut it to fit. We were looking at quartz and other stone materials but the lead times were several weeks and we were in a time crunch.

I would say on scale of 1-10 it’s a 4-6. There weren’t any times where I felt like I was completely lost or messed up where I had to do rework. We tried to get fancy with our backsplash and that backfired but overall I had a really good experience with the IKEA setup. Our scope was probably 1/2 of your picture and it took us ~3 weeks but this was also working on it after our full time jobs and most of the day on the weekends so you could probably do it faster if you have the time.
andypanda
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by andypanda »

"How is that hard to clean?"

It's not hard to clean, it's how often you may need to clean it. A spider will have a new web in place by the following morning.
rascott
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by rascott »

lthenderson wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:02 am
corn18 wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:14 pm How hard is it to install something like this?
Lots of great advice up above. I've installed cabinets (most I have made too) many times and unless I missed it, there is one factoid that is really important in determining the ease of hanging them. Are the cabinet doors overlay or inset? All mine that I have made and installed were overlay but when we redid our entire kitchen a few years back, we purchased cabinets with inset doors. Purchased cabinets are a lot more flexible than mine built mostly from 3/4" thick plywood and inset doors means the gap around the doors is very visible and one must be very exact in getting things plumb, level and square. It took me probably ten times longer installing those cabinets than it would have had they had overlay doors and even then, there were times when I just wanted to throw cabinets out doors and set them on fire. I will probably never again get inset doors again as a result even though I think the finished look now that I'm done looks impressive.

Another thing to consider is countertop material. If you are going with some stone countertops, they have very strict guidelines on how unlevel the top of your cabinets can be in order to ensure your countertop doesn't crack into pieces when placed on top. Whether or not you have the necessary attention to detail, tools and skills to do this yourself is something only you can probably decide.

Good point on the door type. I will say that inset doors provide a much higher end look, IMO.... they are also typically the most expensive type of cabinet construction.
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rh00p
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by rh00p »

adamthesmythe wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:21 pm You will need a helper to lift and hold things.
You screw a 1"x2" into the wall at the exact point where the cabinets will sit and it acts as a shelf 😉

You'll also need shims if you have old walls that are no longer plumb so your crown moulding will install straight if it's long and continuous.
Preparing for the worst. Hoping for the best.
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by barnaclebob »

If you are comfortable doing the electrical an plumbing then, mounting the cabinets is well within reach. Watch some Youtube vids, buy a nice long level.
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corn18
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by corn18 »

Thanks everyone for the input! I would love to take this on as it interests me. I just retired and this looked like a great project to take on. I could build something. My weakness is finish work. I am not good at it. And my DW is CDO (that's OCD in alphabetical order). She has a superpower where she can spy the most minor imperfection immediately. And then it bugs her forever. If I put these in, that will be directed at me. If I hire someone else, they can feel her wrath. She has been making offhand comments about how we should hire someone vs. me doing it. So I guess that is decided. Will need to find another project.
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Starfish
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by Starfish »

Watty wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:00 am
Starfish wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 3:33 am How is that hard to clean? What is easier than to get on a chair or the countertop and wipe it?
If it is a nine foot ceiling then they would be 8.5 feet high and the tops may also not be smooth and finished or flush with the top of the moulding.
The height has nothing to do with the ceiling. It's given by the cabinet height. Those cabinets as not that tall, probably a lot of people an reach the top even without climbing on anything. The top is only 1 ft higher that the top shelf anyway.
The OP want to install them, cleaning should be a lot easier.
If cleaning those cabinets becomes an issue, coming down to the basement will be a tougher one.
wilked
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Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by wilked »

A useful tool is a lazer level. Not 100% necessary but I'd get it if I was going to DIY (or borrow from a friend!).
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