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Installing IKEA kitchen cabinets

With multiple lifetimes of experience building IKEA furniture and Legos, stars in our eyes and Christmas looming a week away we started putting the kitchen together. I mean really… how hard can installing IKEA kitchen cabinets be? Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose- right?

Where to start building

We decided to start building the bank of cabinets by the refrigerator first. It was just a wall of cabinets, no corners to deal with- yet. And we needed all the newly empty floor space to build the four 90″ tall cupboards planned for that spot.

Stacking cabinets

The tricky part was figuring out how to stack the cabinets as we installed them. Part of the reason for remodeling the kitchen was to achieve more cupboard storage space. And to utilize the space between the upper cabinets and the ceiling with another set of cupboards.

We started with the upper row of layered cabinets. After staring at the basic, wordless IKEA instructions we put our heads together. Work with your team- kick around ideas and possibilities before you start making holes in walls.

The Sektion suspension rails for hanging the cabinets are somewhat adjustable. Once you have found the studs in the wall, measured for height and done your absolute best in finding the exact hanging height. The locking “key”, the metal apparatus that holds the rail to the wall can be removed while the bar is adjusted to the correct high- infinitely adjusted, if you will, without having to do any re-drilling. The rails can be moved up and down within about 1/2 of an inch. Then relocked into place when once again level and tweaked to the exact correct spot.

We did a lot of adjusting, taking off and putting the cabinets back on to get it just right. Also, the 90″ tall Sektion cabinets sit on the floor on legs. The legs are very adjustable, which was very handy. As you can see, I did a terrible job measuring and cutting the outlet hole. Thankfully, its hidden behind a door and lower than eye level with shelves installed.

While installing a kitchen right before Christmas wasn’t the most convenient time frame. But, there were definitely some perks. My 20 something kids were home from college and available to help. My husband was off work for the holidays too. It was all hands on deck and for the most part we were all happy to be spending some quality time together.

Hanging upper cabinets

Tackling the other bank of cabinets was a bit easier with some experience under our belts. We used the measurements from the finished side as reference. The distance from the ceiling to the top and bottom rail was referenced. And the distance from the floor to both rails for the stacking cabinets was also helpful.

The cabinets “lock” to the rails with a plastic ‘key”. If the cabinets aren’t hanging all the way on the rail (for instance: sitting on top of the other cabinet and not fully hooked onto their bar) they will not lock into place. Our goal was to adjust until the stacked cabinets fit as snugly on top of each other as possible. While safely hanging (and locked) on their own rails. There will be tiny gaps here and there. But once the doors are installed, you will not see the gaps any more.

Installing IKEA base cabinets

The lower cabinets also hang on the walls. Which is a good thing because the plastic legs that come with the kitchen are surprisingly flimsy. In hindsight, build frames for the lower cabinets to sit on (as well as locking to the walls) for an overall sturdier feel. We were in a hurry to meet our countertop templating appointment. Or we would have stopped and built box frames for the cabinets.

Installing IKEA kitchen cabinets as an island

We realized that there was no way we could build the kitchen island with plastic legs. The island would never have been sturdy enough. We used 2×6’s we had in the garage to build a frame in this case, bracketing them to the sub floor to hold them in place.

The cabinets were toenailed into their base support. The screw will never be seen once the drawers are put into place. As an extra bonus, the island will be slightly taller when finished. This is nice for taller people working at a standing workspace.

Stay tuned for the next step- farmhouse sink install and adding temporary countertops!

Take a look at the original kitchen, its removal and it’s new home.

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