Cabinets add storage and good looks to your garage conversion. Installing them yourself is an option if you have the tools and basic skills needed. Here is an overview of how to install cabinets plus a list of tools and equipment required for the job.
[note_box]NOTE: Cabinet installation is a two-person job. Having an extra set of hands will make the work much easier and will help ensure a better outcome.[/note_box]
Install Upper Cabinets First
Hanging upper cabinets while lower cabinets are in place is difficult. When the base cabinets are not in the way, you can get closer to the wall standing or on a ladder.
Mark Cabinet Positions
Use a tape measure, stud finder, level and marking pencil to mark where each cabinet will go. In terms of height, standard base cabinets are 34.5 inches high. Allow 1.5 inches for the countertop. The standard distance above the countertop is 18 inches, so the distance to the bottom of the upper cabinets would be 54 inches. Some add an extra few inches to make room for small appliances.
It helps if you have all of the cabinets out of the box, so you can make exact measurements. Mark the left-hand upper corner of the left cabinet. Use the level and tape measure to determine the position of the cabinets moving left to right. Use a pencil to very lightly mark where corners should be. Finally, use a stud finder to locate and lightly mark each stud above the height the cabinet tops will reach, so you can locate them when it’s time to fasten the cabinets to the wall.
Install a Ledger Board
Use 1×2 stock lumber for the purpose. The top of the board should be at 54 inches if you’re going with the standard 18 inches from the countertop to the bottom of the upper cabinet. Install it higher, if you’re using more space.
The purpose of the board is to support the upper cabinets while they’re being installed. Use a level, mark studs and fasten the ledger board to the wall with a suitable wood screw in every stud.
Install the Left Upper Cabinet
Rest the cabinet on the ledger board and line it up with the marks you’ve made. Use a level to make sure the front is plumb. Use shims, if needed, behind the cabinet top or bottom if it is not plumb. Then use screws to attach the cabinet to the wall studs.
NOTE: Many installers remove cabinet doors before hanging to reduce weight. This also keeps them out of the way while securing cabinets to the wall and to one another.
Install the Remaining Upper Cabinets
Follow this process to install the remaining upper cabinets. Make sure each successive cabinet is plumb and even with the previous cabinet. Use shims where needed. Clamping the cabinet you’re installing to the one just installed will hold it exactly where it should be while your attaching it with screws.
Attach the cabinets to one another. Pre-drill holes to prevent wood splintering. Then, use four screws to connect cabinets, one each at the top front and back and bottom front and back.
Use the Same Process for Lower Cabinet Installation
Check the level of the floor. If it isn’t level, the first cabinet you should install is the one that will sit at the high point. Measure carefully to locate this cabinet exactly where it should be. For level floors, start in a corner.
Use shims beneath or behind the rest of the lower cabinets to make sure their tops are level and are even with the first cabinet you installed. Marking a level line on the wall just above where the cabinet tops will be will help keep your installation level.
Get all the base cabinets in place and shim them before attaching any of them to the wall. Once they are all level and flush with one another, attach them to the wall studs and to one another in the manner described for upper cabinets.
Add the Doors and You’re Done
Some installers leave the lower doors off until the countertops are installed. This prevents them from being nicked or scraped while installing countertops. The upper doors can go on, however, to complete that part of the project.
For further reading, Bob Vila has a great guide to various garage storage solutions here