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Preference Lines and Mounting Locations

It is critical to mark reference lines before installing cabinets. Without accurate reference lines your cabinets could likely be misaligned.

Installing cabinets prior to installing a new floor is probably a better idea. You won't have to worry about damaging the new floor and the new cabinets may take up floor space that will not need new flooring and therefore save more money.

Is the Floor Level?
It's important to check if your floor is level before beginning cabinet installation. Most floors are a little off but should not be so bad that a DIY'er cannot install. Do the following to check if your floor is level.
  1. Lay a long two by four on edge against a wall you plant to install the base cabinets and set a level on it. Slide down one edge and then the other, looking for any bends.

  2. Determine the first high point. Lift one end or the board as needed to center the bubble between lines in the level's vial. If and adjustment is needed, then the point where the level contracts the floor is your first high point.

  3. Use the level straight edge to determine if there is any point higher along that wall or an adjacent wall where base cabinets are to be installed.

Cabinet Height Measurements
You will need to put chalk lines on the wall at the top of your floor cabinets and at the bottom of your wall cabinets. This gives you a reference lines for installations however be sure the lines.

Stay level around the entire room. If you have shorter cabinets, like those over a refrigerator or range, measure down from the top of the top line a distance equal to the height of the cabinet to determine the bottom edge. Most cabinets will leave about twelve inches above the to of the cabinet to the ceiling that allows you extra storage.

Locating Wall StudsCabinets are hung using screws you can drive in to wall studs. Do not sue wall anchors to hang wall cabinets, as they cannot support the weight of a cabinet.

You can locate the studs in the wall using a stud finder. Wall studs are generally spaced about sixteen inches apart. Mark each wall stud when you locate it. You can then use these marks to guide where you drive screws that secure the base cabinet and the bottom and top of the cabinet to the wall. To confirm you have truly located the studs, pound in a nail and once it penetrates the drywall there should be some resistance.

Are your walls plumb?
You need to check if you walls are plumb or vertically level. Place a four foot level vertically on adjacent walls at an inside corner. If the wall is in our out of plumb, you will need to shim the cabinets to make them plumb so you can install the cabinets. Cabinets that butt or are out of plumb wall will leave a tapered gap you will need to address. You may be able to plane down the edge. Cabinets must be installed truly vertically and typically base cabinets must line up exactly with all cabinets. To ensure that will be the case, lay out cabinet positions on the wall before you start the installation.

Cabinet Position
Just as you established a level horizontal reference line to determine cabinet heights, you must also establish a plumb vertical line to locate the cabinet sides. It is very rare that walls are perfectly plumb. Start at an inside corner and use a four foot level to check for plumb. Pencil a plumb line form the floor to wall where you want to position the cabinets.

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