How hard is it to install cabinets?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
User avatar
Topic Author
corn18
Posts: 2399
Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:24 am

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.

Image
Consistently sets low goals and fails to achieve them.
RedDog
Posts: 179
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2015 4:36 pm

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
Posts: 4602
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:47 pm

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
Posts: 3355
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:20 am

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
Posts: 665
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2021 11:52 am

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
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2018 8:07 pm

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
Posts: 8164
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:55 pm

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).
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.
User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 15385
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii No Ka Oi , N. Arizona

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.
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know
User avatar
nedsaid
Posts: 15893
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:33 pm

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:
A fool and his money are good for business.
User avatar
Watty
Posts: 24167
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

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
Posts: 8164
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:55 pm

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.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.
phxjcc
Posts: 1179
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 3:47 pm

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
Posts: 16476
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

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
Posts: 2482
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:33 pm

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
Posts: 251
Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:42 am

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.
rascott
Posts: 2782
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:53 am

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
Posts: 2782
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:53 am

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.
User avatar
alpenglow
Posts: 1338
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 12:02 pm

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:
User avatar
Watty
Posts: 24167
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

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.
User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 6452
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

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
Posts: 1105
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:21 pm

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.
User avatar
khangaroo
Posts: 170
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2017 1:11 am

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
Posts: 1075
Joined: Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:11 pm
Location: Richmond, Virginia

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
Posts: 2782
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:53 am

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.
User avatar
rh00p
Posts: 157
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:21 am

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.
barnaclebob
Posts: 4660
Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:54 am

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.
User avatar
Topic Author
corn18
Posts: 2399
Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:24 am

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.
Consistently sets low goals and fails to achieve them.
Starfish
Posts: 2482
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:33 pm

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
Posts: 2039
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:50 pm

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!).
User avatar
Topic Author
corn18
Posts: 2399
Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:24 am

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by corn18 »

A trip to Ikea and $200 later it is complete! Saved $47,800.

Image

Momma is out right now getting another quote. Ugh...
Consistently sets low goals and fails to achieve them.
hightechburrito
Posts: 48
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 4:15 pm

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by hightechburrito »

If the quote from Lowe's was really $48,000, I would seriously consider IKEA kitchen cabinets for this project. I put them in my kitchen about 8 years ago with a similar looking amount of base and wall cabinets, and the total cost was under $4k, including quartz countertops. I did the cabinet installation myself, and the counters were done by a local shop IKEA contracted with. Some people scoff at IKEA, but the construction of their kitchen cabinets is probably very similar to what you'd see at the big box stores.

A happy medium would be something like cabinets2go. I think you get plywood boxes, more custom sizes through them, but at a higher cost. I haven't used them myself but have heard good things.
renter
Posts: 409
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:14 pm

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by renter »

Check Cliq Studios. When we bought, no sales tax, delivered to home, solid, no particle board, inset construction and relatively inexpensive. Had our trusted handyman install. We splerged on countertop and tile backsplash.
Grt2bOutdoors
Posts: 24477
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: New York

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

hightechburrito wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 5:08 pm If the quote from Lowe's was really $48,000, I would seriously consider IKEA kitchen cabinets for this project. I put them in my kitchen about 8 years ago with a similar looking amount of base and wall cabinets, and the total cost was under $4k, including quartz countertops. I did the cabinet installation myself, and the counters were done by a local shop IKEA contracted with. Some people scoff at IKEA, but the construction of their kitchen cabinets is probably very similar to what you'd see at the big box stores.

A happy medium would be something like cabinets2go. I think you get plywood boxes, more custom sizes through them, but at a higher cost. I haven't used them myself but have heard good things.
And they say there's no inflation huh? That's outrageous if true.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions
michaelingp
Posts: 639
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:46 pm

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by michaelingp »

I've done three kitchens and I agree with others that it's well within the skills of a reasonably handy DIYer. Sounds like you have access to the studs, so you could inset horizontal 2x4's at the height of the cabinet screws, to avoid having to hit the studs after the sheetrock is up. It helps if the wall is relatively flat, but most cabinets you get from the big box stores will be designed to make it easy if the wall is not perfectly flat (it won't be). The last kitchen I did, the cabinets came with mounting screws. Use them, or buy fasteners designed exactly for that purpose (i.e. don't use drywall screws or similar). You may also have to deal with variations in the floor level, so get a bunch of plastic shims.
michaeljc70
Posts: 8167
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2015 3:53 pm

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by michaeljc70 »

I installed our kitchen cabinets. It depends on the type of cabinets, how straight your walls/floor are, your DIY skills, etc. My install was pretty easy (experienced DIYer). The hardest part was panels for ends that needed to be cut. If you have stacked cabinets, an island, panel next to the fridge, etc. it typically comes in a large format that needs to be cut down. I would take this into account. I used a table saw to cut these components down for my kitchen and I wouldn't call it hard, but if you make a mistake it can be an expensive one. If you have a very standard layout they may sell panels that will fit or you may not need them at all. Since you are doing a bar, it seems pretty straightforward to me looking at your layout.

In your layout it seems like mitering the top trim (cornice) will be the hardest part.
Fat Tails
Posts: 368
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2019 12:47 am
Location: New Mexico

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by Fat Tails »

Sandtrap wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 10:40 pm
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
+1
“Doing well with money has little to do with how smart you are and a lot to do with how you behave.” - Morgan Housel
User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 15385
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii No Ka Oi , N. Arizona

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by Sandtrap »

michaelingp wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 5:49 pm I've done three kitchens and I agree with others that it's well within the skills of a reasonably handy DIYer. Sounds like you have access to the studs, so you could inset horizontal 2x4's at the height of the cabinet screws, to avoid having to hit the studs after the sheetrock is up. It helps if the wall is relatively flat, but most cabinets you get from the big box stores will be designed to make it easy if the wall is not perfectly flat (it won't be). The last kitchen I did, the cabinets came with mounting screws. Use them, or buy fasteners designed exactly for that purpose (i.e. don't use drywall screws or similar). You may also have to deal with variations in the floor level, so get a bunch of plastic shims.
Great points
Well said.

Yes. Most framers use 2x4 horizontal blocking.
I have seen some custom home builders use 2x6 or even 2x8 horizontal blocking for cabinets, and other support backing (IE: closet poles, ADA railings, etc) for 5-1/2 to 7-1/2 inches of vs 3-1/2" from a 2x4 which is more prone to splitting and also any variance in tolerances (too low or high).
(horizontal wood blocking is also installed on a metal frame structure, often with additional wood studding as well for strength).

Also seen some cabinet installer subcontractors upgrade the screws, if included, to Torx #8 or larger depending on the situation. But, they are setup with the proper predrill bits and countersink bits and know how/skills to do this.

Great tips
Thanks!
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know
ponyboy
Posts: 1152
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2015 10:39 am

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by ponyboy »

corn18 wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:25 am A trip to Ikea and $200 later it is complete! Saved $47,800.

Image

Momma is out right now getting another quote. Ugh...
I hope you're not serious. You have the pocket to do something nice.
michaeljc70
Posts: 8167
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2015 3:53 pm

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by michaeljc70 »

Assuming you can hit the studs, I wouldn't reinforce the walls for those 4 upper cabinets that are likely only 12" deep. I did reinforce the wall above my refrigerator because there are two huge 24" deep cabinets (36" wide) above it.
User avatar
Topic Author
corn18
Posts: 2399
Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:24 am

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by corn18 »

ponyboy wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 8:56 am
corn18 wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:25 am A trip to Ikea and $200 later it is complete! Saved $47,800.

Image

Momma is out right now getting another quote. Ugh...
I hope you're not serious. You have the pocket to do something nice.
That's what she said. The Bengals made it to the playoffs and we have been hosting the game parties so we needed something to bridge the gap.
Consistently sets low goals and fails to achieve them.
wfrobinette
Posts: 1735
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:14 pm

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by wfrobinette »

corn18 wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 10:57 am
ponyboy wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 8:56 am
corn18 wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:25 am A trip to Ikea and $200 later it is complete! Saved $47,800.

Image

Momma is out right now getting another quote. Ugh...
I hope you're not serious. You have the pocket to do something nice.
That's what she said. The Bengals made it to the playoffs and we have been hosting the game parties so we needed something to bridge the gap.
Well after this week the parties will be over!

48k is a lot for what you showed and I mean a lot. Are they standard size cabs or did you have to go custom due to the space?

As for the install, no way no how would I attempt to handle that.
mkc
Posts: 997
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:59 pm

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by mkc »

wfrobinette wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 3:48 pm
Well after this week the parties will be over!

48k is a lot for what you showed and I mean a lot. Are they standard size cabs or did you have to go custom due to the space?
It's also quite an impractical layout. Microwave over in a corner and beverage fridges at opposite ends?

Is that $48K because they need to run plumbing for the sink and new circuits for the fridges and micro? Solid wood custom cabinetry?
wfrobinette
Posts: 1735
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:14 pm

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by wfrobinette »

mkc wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 4:58 pm
wfrobinette wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 3:48 pm
Well after this week the parties will be over!

48k is a lot for what you showed and I mean a lot. Are they standard size cabs or did you have to go custom due to the space?
It's also quite an impractical layout. Microwave over in a corner and beverage fridges at opposite ends?

Is that $48K because they need to run plumbing for the sink and new circuits for the fridges and micro? Solid wood custom cabinetry?
Regardless 48k for a is a lot of coin for an entertainment area with no dishwasher at that. Obviously that's dependent on the value of the home but the finish of the basement doesn't appear to be high end. Very nice though.
illumination
Posts: 1878
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:13 pm

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by illumination »

Cabinets are a real racket in my opinion. I had a flooding incident and was working with my insurance company, just couldn't believe what they were asking for some really basic repairs. Basically they were asking for like $1,500 an hour.
phxjcc wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:57 am
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.
I've known lots of people that have gone in this direction and been happy. No way would I spend close to $50k for cabinets for a basement.

On Lowes, I just know I got a quote for some windows there once and they were almost double the price of even the most high end window company.
User avatar
Topic Author
corn18
Posts: 2399
Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:24 am

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by corn18 »

To answer some questions:

Cabinets are all standard size. The install is pretty basic on a straight, flat wall with easy access to the back side and the floor is poured concrete and almost level.

All plumbing and electrical is already there. We had that put in when we had the house built in 2019. And as mentioned, the backside of that wall is not finished and easily accessible in the unfinished part of the basement.

The layout of the 2 fridges and microwave is not final. We are adding a dishwasher. We were looking at built in ice makers but they cost a fortune and are not reliable. So we have a cabinet top ice maker. We could put a cheap fridge with ice maker in the unfinished part of the basement.

We haven't priced Ikea because they have nothing in stock and are quoting 6-9 month lead times. If ever.

The Lowe's quote is just shy of $10k for materials (including tile floor and quartz countertop). 3-4 month lead time. Install is another $4k. The problem we have with Lowes is the reviews for their cabinets are poor. They come in dinged and then you wait another 3-4 months to get another dinged one.

She is getting two more quotes from local folks. We'll see where they come in.
Consistently sets low goals and fails to achieve them.
TheHiker
Posts: 198
Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:34 pm

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by TheHiker »

We did DIY kitchen remodel with IKEA cabinets. It was a piece of cake. Their hanging system is simple and works well.
The top cabinets are hung on a rail and you can move them around until they are all positioned as you need.
The bottom cabinets have adjustable feet so leveling is easy.
Hanging the cabinets was the easier part. Took a couple of days including assembly of the cabinets.
Plumbing/electical/tile/countertop/sink/appliances were the difficult parts.
User avatar
Topic Author
corn18
Posts: 2399
Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 6:24 am

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by corn18 »

TheHiker wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:35 pm We did DIY kitchen remodel with IKEA cabinets. It was a piece of cake. Their hanging system is simple and works well.
The top cabinets are hung on a rail and you can move them around until they are all positioned as you need.
The bottom cabinets have adjustable feet so leveling is easy.
Hanging the cabinets was the easier part. Took a couple of days including assembly of the cabinets.
Plumbing/electical/tile/countertop/sink/appliances were the difficult parts.
Going to Ikea is like walking on the moon these days. Nothing in stock. Or expected in stock.
Consistently sets low goals and fails to achieve them.
mkc
Posts: 997
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:59 pm

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by mkc »

corn18 wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:38 pm
TheHiker wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:35 pm We did DIY kitchen remodel with IKEA cabinets. It was a piece of cake. Their hanging system is simple and works well.
The top cabinets are hung on a rail and you can move them around until they are all positioned as you need.
The bottom cabinets have adjustable feet so leveling is easy.
Hanging the cabinets was the easier part. Took a couple of days including assembly of the cabinets.
Plumbing/electical/tile/countertop/sink/appliances were the difficult parts.
Going to Ikea is like walking on the moon these days. Nothing in stock. Or expected in stock.
That's really unfortunate, especially since Ikea normally has a 25% off kitchen sale in the spring. You can really create a nice look using Ikea cabinets with some of the 3rd party vendor doors/drawer fronts.
User avatar
Harry Livermore
Posts: 1000
Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2019 5:32 am

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by Harry Livermore »

rh00p wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:56 am
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.
+1.
Should be a medium skill DIY. I bet you can do this.
Cheers
SnowBog
Posts: 2720
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 11:21 pm

Re: How hard is it to install cabinets?

Post by SnowBog »

corn18 wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:30 pm ... floor is ... almost level.
No such thing... :D Buy lots of shims, get a good long level, take your time!
corn18 wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:30 pm The Lowe's quote is just shy of $10k for materials (including tile floor and quartz countertop). ... The problem we have with Lowes is the reviews for their cabinets are poor. They come in dinged and then you wait another 3-4 months to get another dinged one.
Many years ago, easily 10+, we got cabinets from Home Depot. They similarly had poor reviews, and we had concerns, but we were trying to keep costs down and that's what we went with. The kitchen was a L (with nearly matching wall lengths), with a built-in desk (and cabinets) on a 3rd wall. So, lots of cabinets. If I recall we only had a single cabinet that had issues and needed to be replaced, and if I recall they didn't even want the old one back so we ended up with a bonus cabinet installed in the garage.

The finished result ended up being really, really nice - way better than those involved ever expected. No one can believe they are basic cabinets from Home Depot.

For extra context, the cabinets were purchased and installed at in-laws house - which had an unfinished (empty room) for kitchen for maybe 20+ years... We decided to finish the kitchen as a gift to in-laws. We were much younger and much poorer at the time, so we were doing it as inexpensively as possible. I am not generally a DIY person (or at least not a good one). I did all of the measuring and design myself, with input from in-laws on appliance placement (my attempt to have them pick out cabinets/styles/etc. failed - so we finally just made those decisions for them).

I think I guilted brother into helping, which ended up being great as he had some prior experience installing cabinets from when he was a kid helping on construction sites as a summer gig. He was meticulous about shims & leveling - sometimes driving me a bit insane... But the end result made all the difference in the world. In-laws did finally pick a countertop - can't recall if it was quartz or granite - but we did have that professionally installed to make sure things like sink cutout, spacing for appliances, rounded edges, etc. were all done well. They might have just been being nice - but they said it was one of their best/easiest installs they had done in a long time. They were floored at how level things were, which gave me the impression that most people - maybe even "professional installers" were cheeping out and going with "good enough". (Admittedly, I would have if my brother didn't keep us on the straight and narrow.)

Arguably the "one mistake" we made was mounting the cabinets to the ceiling. They look amazing, and they'll never fall down. But from a "usability" perspective - even with the "extra-long" cabinets that we got - upper cabinets ended up being too high for practical use. The 5' person who uses them the most (now) has trouble even getting to the bottom shelf and will never reach the taller shelves. (The good news is they have tons of storage for the tons of things they never use. :wink:)

As I recall the two "toughest" parts of the install were a couple of floor-to-ceiling cabinets and the upper cabinets. The floor-to-ceiling cabinet has a "base" to raise it off the floor. Our first attempt was to build the base and then get the cabinet on top - except there wasn't enough space left anymore... We ended up basically getting the cabinet where we wanted it including height (loosely installing to the back/side walls so it wouldn't fall on us), and then attempted to "build" the base underneath it - which was "fun" trying to work in a tight space and get the base pieces to stand upright where we wanted them. The upper cabinets were more just the physical exertion of trying to hold up a cabinet while the other person secured it. I remember the larger upper cabinets were not light - or at least not when you are holding them for many minutes! And then the really tall upper cabinets (like those over sink, stove, etc.) had the added dimension of needing to get two ladders into a small space so one person could hold while the other attached. [The 2nd one we did - we realized it was far easier to put a board on the cabinets underneath and just stand on that!]


Enjoy the project!
Post Reply