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Cabinet Installation Services

After the your kitchen cabinets have arrived and all has been checked to make sure that it matches your order, the kitchen cabinet installers should mark all the cabinet locations on the walls, as well as marking the studs where the cabinets will be attached.

Measurements come first. The installer should find the "high spot" on the floor where the kitchen cabinets will be installed. Most floors in older homes aren’t level, and cabinet installation must work with the reality of a home's condition. Similarly, walls often aren’t plumb or square, even in relatively new construction, so the installer must check them before any cabinets can be installed. Doors to wall cabinets should be removed before installation.

The base kitchen cabinets set the standard for the rest of the installation. Before installation, they should be lined up and connected to one another. First, they should be clamped together for perfect alignment and then connected through the sides by screws. This method is far more precise than attaching components to the wall separately, one after another.

Once the base kitchen cabinets are lined up and connected, your contractor will be able to tell what kind of "shimming" may be needed on the walls and floor. A shim is a narrow wedge of wood that works much like a matchbook placed under the leg of a wobbly table in a restaurant. If your floors or walls are at all ‘wavy,’ as is the case in many older homes, shimming will be necessary.

Most frameless cabinets are screwed directly to a wall. If hanging rails are to be used, however, they should be cut and screwed to the studs, usually about two and half inches below the soffit. This space will allow the cabinet to lift up above the rail before being lowered onto it. Molding is then used to cover the gap between the top of the cabinet and the bottom of the soffit.

Toe-kick moldings are an aesthetic feature that screens the leg levelers from view and provides a floating look to the base cabinets. Some can be snapped into place. Finally, doors and drawer fronts are attached, using adjustable hardware to align them and make the opening between the doors even from top to bottom.

Face-frame kitchen cabinet installation doesn’t differ greatly from that of frameless kitchen cabinets, except that face-frame cabinets usually are screwed to the wall through a mounting strip. Because they have more inner construction, face-frame cabinets don’t rack as easily as frameless cabinets. Since the door can be adjusted on the frame, face-frame cabinets also offer some flexibility in door placement, provided that the doors haven't been predrilled.
Wall kitchen cabinets should be installed starting in a corner, and working outward. In a U-shaped kitchen, the two corner cabinets should be installed first. As each cabinet is hung, it should be fastened to the preceding one so they’re perfectly aligned. When all the wall cabinets have been installed, they should be checked to make sure they’re level, plumb, and square.

Most base cabinets require leveling legs, which should be attached to their bottom corners. In standard installations, the installer makes a mark 34 inches above the high point of the floor along the walls where the base cabinet will be placed. This assumes that the height of your countertop is going to be the standard 36 inches.

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After your old cabinets are torn out, and before installing the new ones, is the perfect time to do any kitchen improvements. Here are some upgrades to consider:

  1. Electrical upgrades. Older kitchens are notorious for lacking adequate lighting and outlets. Consider adding undercabinet, task or indirect lighting and more outlets and upgrading all the outlets to GFCI-protected ones (now demanded by code). It's easy to cut open drywall, fish new wires and install electrical boxes because you can do the work behind the cabinets. Repairs won't have to be perfect because they won't show.
  2. Drywall repair. Patch any holes or any other drywall damage.
  3. Painting. Repaint all of the walls and the ceiling. You'll save the hassle of cutting in around the new cabinets and get a much neater job to boot. You can touch up nicks and bumps later.
  4. Install new finished flooring if you can. Most finished floor materials can be installed ahead of the cabinets. That's much easier to do because you can project the flooring under the cabinets and avoid cutting around them later. Hardwood flooring, tile, most vinyl and some laminate floors can handle cabinets resting on them with no problem. But be careful. Perimeter-glued vinyl and floating wood laminate floors need to expand and contract freely. If you rest cabinets on them, you may have problems with buckling, splitting or cracking later.

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