How to Hang a Kitchen Wall Cabinet

Hanging kitchen wall cabinets is an important part of installing or renovating a kitchen. With the right techniques, tools and planning, you can successfully hang wall cabinets level and secure on your wall for a functional and aesthetically pleasing kitchen. This comprehensive guide will walk you through all the steps for hanging kitchen wall cabinets like a pro.

Choose the Right Wall Cabinets

When starting your kitchen cabinet installation or renovation project, first decide on the right kitchen wall cabinets to meet your storage, style and budget needs.

Consider the following when selecting wall cabinets:

  • Size – Standard wall cabinet sizes include 12″, 18″, 24″, 30″, 36″ and 42″ widths. Choose based on your available wall space and storage needs. Standard heights are 30″ and 36″.
  • Style – Wall cabinets come in various door styles like traditional, shaker, contemporary and more. Choose a style that fits your kitchen’s design.
  • Materials – Wood, laminate and thermofoil are common kitchen cabinet materials. Wood provides a premium, timeless look at a higher cost.
  • Quality – Opt for plywood box construction and solid wood doors and frames for durability. Stay away from particleboard and plastic builds.
  • Features – Look for soft-close doors/drawers, adjustable shelves, pull-out shelves, and other functional features.
  • Budget – Kitchen wall cabinets range widely in price from economy to premium levels. Set a budget and stick to it.

Once you select the ideal wall cabinets for your kitchen, double check that they are undamaged, complete with all parts and ready for installation.

Gather Necessary Tools and Hardware

Installing kitchen wall cabinets requires an assortment of tools and hardware. Ensure you have all of the following on hand before starting:


  • Tape measure
  • Level (3 foot and 6 foot recommended)
  • Pencil
  • Stud finder
  • Power drill and drill bits
  • Screwdrivers (Phillips and flathead)
  • Socket wrench set
  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Safety gear (goggles, gloves, etc)


  • Cabinet screws (at least 2″ in length)
  • Washers
  • Drywall anchors (if needed)
  • Wall cleats or ledger boards
  • Cabinet hanging rail(s)

Other Supplies

  • Blue painter’s tape
  • Rags
  • Pry bar
  • Step stool/ladder

Gathering all necessary tools, hardware and supplies ahead of time will make the installation process go smoothly.

Prepare the Wall

Before installing kitchen wall cabinets, the wall surface must be prepared properly. Here are the steps:

  • Use a stud finder to locate and mark all wall studs within the installation area. Studs provide the strongest support for hanging cabinets.
  • Inspect the wall for drywall damage, holes, protruding nails or anything that will impede cabinet installation. Fix any issues.
  • Clean the wall installation area thoroughly to remove dust and debris.
  • Use painter’s tape to mark the exact cabinet location on the wall, as per your kitchen design. This includes outlines of each wall cabinet and lines delineating the bottom and top edges.
  • Ensure the wall is flat. Use joint compound or spackle if needed to fix any uneven areas within the cabinet installation zone. Allow time to dry completely.
  • Sand any rough paint or drywall texture so the cabinet backs/bottoms can sit flush to the wall.

Thoroughly prepping the kitchen wall will establish the foundation for securely mounting your wall cabinets level and true.

Install Wall Cleats or Ledger Boards

Wall cleats (also called ledger boards) provide an extra layer of reinforced support for hanging wall cabinets. Here are the steps for proper cleat installation:

  • Measure up from the floor and mark a level line at the desired cabinet bottom height as per your design.
  • Using a level, mark an even horizontal line the full length of the installation area a few inches above the cabinet bottom line.
  • Cut 1×3 or 1×4 ledger boards to match the length of the line.
  • Predrill ledger boards and attach them securely to the wall studs using 2-1/2″ screws.
  • Make sure screws hit studs if possible. If between studs, use drywall anchors rated for the cabinet load.
  • Verify boards are 100% straight and level.

Installing sturdy ledger boards provides an excellent base to mount your cabinets on.

Mount Wall Cabinet Hanging Rail

For proper support across multiple cabinets, install a wall cabinet hanging rail:

  • Determine and mark the target height at the top of the wall cabinet section.
  • Measure and cut 1×2 or 1×3 hanging rail boards to span the full cabinet length.
  • Predrill pilot holes every 16-24 inches.
  • Align the board top with the height line and attach to the wall studs using 2-1/2″ screws.
  • Verify the board is completely straight and level before moving on.

The wall hanging rail will support the upper section of the cabinet for a stronger installation.

Attach Wall Cabinets to Cleats

With your ledger boards and hanging rail securely in place, you can start installing the wall cabinets:

  • Remove doors and drawers from cabinets and set hardware aside. Keep shelves in place.
  • Lift a base cabinet into position on the ledger board, flush against the wall outline.
  • From inside the cabinet, drill pilot holes through the cabinet back into the ledger board.
  • Attach the cabinet to the cleat using 2-1/2″ screws with washers. Predrill the cleat first for easier driving.
  • Check that the cabinet is level side to side and front to back. Shim if necessary until level.
  • Attach adjacent cabinets by predrilling through cabinet sides into each other and the ledger board.
  • Attach uppers to the hanging rail following the same process. Drill top frame rails into rail.
  • Verify each cabinet is solidly attached and level as you go. Adjust until perfectly flush and plumb.

Taking the time to securely fasten each cabinet ensures your installation will be strong, stable and built to last.

Tips for Hanging Wall Cabinets Like a Pro

Follow these pro tips as you hang kitchen wall cabinets for optimal results:

  • Enlist help – Having an extra set of hands makes cabinet mounting much easier.
  • Use shims generously – Shims fine tune level and plumb during installation. Leave shims in place.
  • Check level frequently – Recheck level and plumb from multiple angles during install.
  • Start in corner – Anchor the first cabinet in the corner then work outward.
  • Pre-assemble – Assemble cabinets prior to mounting using manufacturer instructions.
  • Support large spans – For long runs, add an extra cleat or use an H-clip system for support.
  • Match existing cabinets – When adding new cabinets, choose same finish and style for seamless look.
  • Review plans – Refer frequently to kitchen plans and measure twice to ensure accurate placement.

Employing professional techniques will help your finished product look like it was installed by an expert.

Hang Wall Cabinets Step-by-Step

Follow this complete step-by-step process for proper wall cabinet installation:

  1. Remove existing cabinets if renovating.
  2. Gather all tools, hardware and materials needed for install.
  3. Clean wall area thoroughly and repair any damage.
  4. Mark stud locations and cabinet outlines on wall.
  5. Install ledger boards horizontally at desired cabinet bottom height.
  6. Mount hanging rail boards at target cabinet top location.
  7. Install corner wall cabinet first, shimming until plumb and level.
  8. Working outward, mount adjacent cabinets by predrilling and screwing to ledger, rail and each other.
  9. Use shims liberally to fine tune until perfectly straight and flush.
  10. Open and close doors to test for proper alignment. Adjust as needed.
  11. Securely install remaining wall cabinets using the same process.
  12. Drill screws through cabinet backs into wall studs for added support.
  13. Reinstall doors, drawers and hardware once cabinets are mounted.
  14. Clean up work area and touch up any wall repairs needed.
  15. Admire your perfectly installed wall cabinets!

Taking a methodical approach leads to a professional looking, rock solid kitchen wall cabinet installation.

FAQs About Hanging Kitchen Wall Cabinets

Q: How much weight can wall cabinets hold?

A: Properly installed wall cabinets can typically hold up to 50-75 lbs per linear foot. Use sturdy plywood construction and secure attachment to studs for optimal strength.

Q: What is the standard height to hang kitchen wall cabinets?

A: The standard height for a kitchen’s bottom wall cabinets is 54 inches above the floor. Upper cabinets are typically mounted about 18 inches above that.

Q: Should I hang cabinets before or after countertops?

A: Wall cabinets are generally installed before countertops go in. This allows the counter to be scribed and fitted to the cabinetry.

Q: What is the minimum clearance needed for upper cabinets?

A: A minimum of 18 inches clearance is recommended between your countertop and the bottom of upper wall cabinets.

Q: Can I hang cabinets directly on drywall without supports?

A: Cabinets should always be mounted into wall studs or with additional bracing like cleats. Do not rely solely on drywall anchors.

Q: What type of screw should be used to hang wall cabinets?

A: Use sturdy wood screws at least 2 inches long. Self-tapping cabinet screws with wide washers provide the strongest mounting hold.

Q: Should anything be stored on top of kitchen wall cabinets?

A: Avoid placing heavy items on top of wall cabinets. The top surface is not designed for storage. Light decorative items are fine.

Q: How do I hang a sink base cabinet by itself?

A: Use ledger boards, shims and at least one bank of screws into a stud for support. Consider using an additional leg brace for stability.


Installing kitchen wall cabinets is a rewarding DIY project that can completely transform your cooking space. Follow the techniques, tips and steps outlined to gain the skills and confidence needed to hang your cabinets like a pro. Mounting your wall cabinets securely, accurately and level will result in a kitchen you will enjoy for years to come.