Tips for installing cabinets for laundry storage

March 05, 2021

Hey there! The mud/laundry room storage makeover is underway! I didn't expect to get started right away, but we lucked out when the contractors we use were available sooner than I planned. 

I can install base cabinets no problem, (I use them for built ins all the time) but I leave making sure the uppers are supported correctly to the professionals. 

If you remember, I have big plans to make this part of the room work much better for us: 
Folding table hiding cat litter

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I've wanted to add cabinets under the folding table since we moved in. All along I planned to purchase the same cabinets our builder used so they would match the uppers in here. I didn't even consider looking into the big box stores to see what they have. 

Well...the other day I finally did that and low and behold...they had cabinets in stock that matched ours almost exactly. The problem was they were only available in white or gray -- I was fine with the gray, but I wasn't sure the white would match our upper cabinets exactly. 

And I decided awhile back that I want the base cabinets to be a deeper color, not gray. So I looked into my old go-to -- the inexpensive unfinished cabinets I use for my bookcase projects. I knew I could dress them up to look like our other cabinets with little extra work. 

I wanted a TON of I ended up going with all drawers. And they are glorious. These are what I used: 
unfinished base drawer cabinets

If I could plan a kitchen all over again, I would do 90 percent drawers and hardly any cabinets with doors down below. 

When the contractors said they could come by sooner than expected to hang the upper cabinets, I hurried to remove the current countertop so they didn't have to work around it: 

Folding table no cabinets

They got them up in no time: 
Two cabinets with space in between

These are the cabinets that were over our washer and dryer, but they are only 30 inches wide and the spot below is six feet. I had them hung like this so I can add some small display shelves in between. 

Now, onto how to install the base cabinets! I am NOT an expert when it comes to this, but I've learned a few things over the years that are helpful. And all of the cabinets I've installed are still standing, sooooo I'm fairly confident in my process. 😂

Start by connecting the cabinets together first. Again, this works best on base cabinets obviously. :) Someone recommended this to me and it really does go so much smoother when you put them together first, then attach to the walls. 

As you install, you'll need to look at two things -- that the cabinets are level from side to side and front to back as you put them together, and that they match up well at the front. This is what you want your cabinets to look like when connected: 
Installing cabinets flush

You don't want any major gaps (small ones can be filled) and you want them to be flush. Connecting the cabinets together first definitely helps with this!

I used these cabinet screws for the first time for this set of cabinets, based on another recommendation: 
Perfect screws for installing cabinets

They worked really well -- you're not supposed to have to predrill your holes with these, but I did anyway.

They install and sink nicely into the wood so you don't see the screw head. I always use two to connect the cabinets -- one at the top and one at the bottom: 
Tips for installing cabinet drawers

This is the BIG thing you need to know going in -- very few walls are actually perfectly straight. And very few corners are perfect 90 degree angles. 

You'll need to adjust for those discrepancies with shims: 
shims installing cabinets

Another tip I find helpful -- add some scrap in between at the back of each cabinet set, so that they are installed the same distance from the back to the front. Otherwise the front of your cabinets may bow out a bit. 

Before you connect two cabinets, check for level and see where you need to add a shim. You can place them under or behind the cabinets against the wall to even things out. Tap them in with a hammer until you are level: 
level for installing cabinets

You can see that mine was not PERFECTLY level, and in my experience that tiny bit does not matter. **It may matter more if you are having granite counters installed. 

It's a process of checking for level, adjusting with shims and screwing the cabinets together one by one. Then checking to make sure all of them are level as you connect them. 

Once they are together and are as flush and level as you can get them, you can install them into the walls. Use a stud finder to find your studs -- it's helpful for me to mark where they are on the wall. 

For this part, these screws are awesome -- they have a built in "washer" that makes sure the screw isn't going to go through the cabinet back or sides: 
best screws with washer for installing cabinets

I usually put one at the top and bottom at the back of each cabinet and some on the sides into studs. Sometimes I find they don't need bottom screws on every single cabinet -- if you can shake them around at all you'll need one. 

One more tip -- check any drawers as you install the cabinets to each other and into the wall. They can be a little finicky because they are on slides. If not installed properly, your drawers may catch or not operate well. Open and close them as you go. 

When everything is attached to the walls, you can remove the shims on the floor by scoring them with a razor and then snapping them off: 
Using shims to install cabinets

The portion under the cabinet will stay put. 

I know this may sound like a lot, but as you get going it's not that bad. This is one of those DIY projects that can be intimidating, but it doesn't take long to get the hang of it. 

I placed our countertop back on until we get the new one: 
Set of drawer base cabinets

I'm splurging on two things in this room -- one is the countertop. It's a beautiful butcher block that I've been wanting to use for YEARS! I can't wait to show it to you. 

Remember when I mentioned most walls aren't perfectly straight? When I removed the old counter I realized how much caulk they had to use on the back -- there's a good sized gap back there. Good times! I'll have to do the same with the new one.  

These are not done yet though! I still have a list of changes I'll make to these unfinished cabinets to make them look more custom. I'll be updating the end of the cabinet for a prettier look like I showed you here

I also plan to make new drawer fronts that will match our other cabinets much better. When I ordered these I thought they were perfectly flat, but they have a slight beveled edge so my original plan isn't going to work: 
upper and lower cabinets mud room

I'll share that process with you too. And then of course, paint and pretty hardware. :) 

We can finally use all of the upper cabinets now! Before they were hard to reach because our washer and dryer stick out so far. 

You know I've already filled half of those drawers! I can't believe it's taken me so long to put these in. It's already solved SO many storage issues for us! LOVE them. Remember how this spot usually looked?: 
Messy counter mud room

If you have any other cabinet install tips, I'm all ears! Feel free to share in the comments. 

Here are the items I use for installation: 

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  1. Where do you have the littler box now?

  2. Where is the little box now?

  3. We have a couple options for the litter boxes -- going to try one in this room first. I'll be sure to update!


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