No kitchen is complete without cabinets, but the kitchen cabinets are not level most of the time. Many people don’t focus on these details, even though it’s extremely important.
In this article, I will discuss everything about the leveling of kitchen cabinets, the problems caused due to uneven cabinets, how cabinets are leveled, the best ways of installing kitchen cabinets, and other relevant information.
Do kitchen cabinets need to be perfectly level?
Yes, because the cabinets work as a base, and if the base is not level the countertops wouldn’t fit properly. Also, remember that an uneven surface can lead to cracking the stone countertops. So, if you think your kitchen cabinets are not level, get them leveled before installing the countertop.
For checking whether your kitchen cabinets are level or not, you can try using a level (the tool used for checking the evenness/level of any surface). Ensure that the level of any cabinet is properly checked before being installed, as it can be very hard to fix it once installed.
Problems caused due to uneven kitchen cabinets
With a new kitchen come new kitchen cabinets and countertops, and a beautiful new countertop is supposed to add up to the beauty of your kitchen. The kitchen cabinets need to be leveled from all sides to support the new countertops properly. If the kitchen cabinets are not even or on level, it can be a bigger problem than you think.
Uneven kitchen cabinets may seem harmless; however, the problems will arise once the countertops are installed.
First of all, the countertop wouldn’t fit properly or at all. A countertop that isn’t even fit on the surface properly will only give an unfinished and rough look.
Not just that, the space left between the countertop and the kitchen cabinets becomes home to debris, mold, and dust. There’s even a chance that insects might enter these spaces as well.
And just so you know, in severe cases, the uneven cabinets even end up cracking and ruining the natural stone countertops, which is otherwise very rare to happen.
Factors that may cause uneven kitchen cabinets
Most older homes become the victims of uneven cabinets. The reason behind it is usually the uneven surface of flooring or the base. Even the slightest slope in the flooring can end up causing the kitchen cabinets to get uneven.
Over the years, the beams and the house’s foundation can shift, and the flooring level can be affected. This shifting negatively affects the leveling as well as the height of the base cabinets. This can also affect the countertops.
Leveling the kitchen cabinets
If you are hoping for the countertop installers to level your kitchen cabinets before installing the countertop, then you might be wrong. Granite or countertop installers would do everything possible to shim the unevenness down as much as possible.
However, they wouldn’t be able to level the kitchen cabinets for you. You might have to pay them extra for it or hire some other professional to do so.
If your base cabinets are already installed and not level, and you want to install a new countertop without making it uneven, then here’s one great way that you can use for leveling the kitchen cabinets.
Use 2 1/2 inch screws and insert them into the studs through the wall. However, insert the screws in the nearest lower hollow region if the wall isn’t at the same level.
You can also trim the shims using a sharp knife so they can sit at the same level as the cabinets. You can repeat this method for all the uneven kitchen cabinets.
But if you are getting brand-new kitchen cabinets, make sure that the installation of the base kitchen cabinets is done properly. Ensure that the installers have installed the cabinets properly; if not, contact the installer immediately. It would be best to never let the installer leave until they have checked the level of cabinets from all sides.
Another thing to remember is that the laser level, which most people overlook, is the best tool to check the level of kitchen cabinets. The standard level might not show all the level issues. Figuring out where the level is problematic is the first step towards fixing the issue.
The base cabinets need to be level so that the countertop can sit on it properly. So, if you think that the shim trick isn’t working for you, go on and contact a professional who can help you in the right manner. Once the base cabinets are completely level, you can install the countertops, and your new kitchen can come in a beautiful shape.
The level required for granite countertops
According to industry standards, the kitchen cabinets can be out of level by 1/8 inch. However, in some regions, the cabinets are installed at 1/4 inch, and shims are also used in such installations.
If the shimming of any kitchen cabinet is done properly, the owner wouldn’t have to change the cabinets for decades; that’s a promise! However, if the cabinets are completely out of level and can’t be rectified using shims, you need to call the installer and ask them to fix the issue.
Using a laser level while installing the kitchen cabinets
A lase level, as the name suggests, uses a laser. The laser light that is emitted by the device is created by the optical amplification caused by electromagnetic radiation. In easier words, you can say that a laser level emits a straight array of light to check the level of evenness of any surface.
A self-leveling laser is literally the best tool you can use to check your kitchen cabinets’ level. The best part about these laser levels is that they can automatically find and maintain the level in any specified area.
On the other hand, if you use a manual laser level, you’ll need to operate the unit by turning the unit thumb screws manually. Not just that, you’ll also need to manually get the measurements of the level while looking at the bubble vials.
Using the self-leveling laser
Once the cabinets are in their place, you need to set up the laser level. Now, you need to turn it on and take measurements from all the possible directions. Here’s a step by step guide to using a laser level:
- Get a tripod stand and attach the laser level to it. Tripod stands often allow the users to adjust their legs, and most of them also have a built-in leveling bubble. Do not forget to check that bubble while adjusting the stand and see if it is leveled properly. This way, you wouldn’t have to worry about the laser level being knocked over.
- Now turn on the laser level and adjust it once again while looking at the leveling bubble to make sure it is perfectly aligned inside the vial. (for a self-leveling laser level, you wouldn’t have to do this step).
- Once turned on, the laser level will emit a beam of light on the surface of the kitchen cabinets.
- Make sure you have identified a specific point at your desired height on the ground. This is the point where you’ll project the laser at.
- Now, you can work on taking the measurements required for the leveling of the kitchen cabinets.
The best way of installing kitchen cabinets
Regardless of the type of cabinets you are installing, the method works for all of them and specifically for kitchen cabinets. Always follow this method for installing kitchen cabinets because you will need to fit a countertop on them, so they need to be perfectly installed.
Whenever installing kitchen cabinets, always draw or mark a level line along the nearest walls. Remove everything from the kitchen cabinets and take the measurements again using the laser level.
Starting from the “high” point can level the cabinet’s upper surface even if the flooring beneath isn’t leveled. Once the surface is leveled, you only need to use some of your skills to level up the cabinet legs. This way, you’ll be able to adjust the height of the cabinets according to your requirements. Lastly, use the trick of inserting the 2 1/2 inch screws into the studs and shimming them with the help of a knife.
Once the cabinets are installed, you can change the cabinet doors. While doing the work, you may also need to adjust the fronts of all the drawers, if there are any. To adjust them, you can hold the drawer glides and loosen the screws and separate them from the cabinets. Once done, you can now fit them vertically with the cabinets so they can align perfectly. In the end, tighten all the loosened screws, and you are good to go.
Using Ikea cabinets as base kitchen cabinets
Many people often get confused about whether Ikea-bought kitchen cabinets can hold a stone countertop or not. The short answer is that they can if the work is done properly.
Installing Ikea cabinets is not the problem; the weight of the granite is.
Some kitchen installers might tell you that they cannot install granite countertop on Ikea cabinets, but trust us, it’s not an issue at all. If the weight of the countertop is divided equally throughout the cabinets, it should work just fine.
If you want to install the granite or quartz countertop on your own, then you may follow these steps:
- Please take all the countertop pieces to the cabinets and position them on the surface.
- Now take the silicone caulk/construction adhesive and apply a thick layer of it on the top edge of the cabinet’s parts that will be supporting the countertop.
- Now put the countertop back into its place, and you are good to go.
Just make sure the pieces are in the right place and direction because you won’t be able to fix it once the adhesive or silicone caulk has dried.
Cost of hiring professionals to install the base kitchen cabinets
If you know all the necessary steps, you can easily install the kitchen cabinets on your own without making them uneven. We think everyone should learn this skill because the cost of getting the base kitchen cabinets installed can often go as high as 500 dollars. Not everyone can afford to pay that much money. The installers who offer to do the work at a ridiculously lower price might as well ruin the whole thing. So, it is better to spend some time and do it yourself.
If you are also going to install new kitchen cabinets or a new countertop over the old cabinets, make sure you follow all these tips and tricks to keep the cabinets level and your new countertop safe. By following these tips, your new kitchen will definitely look fabulous, and you’ll enjoy every bit of time you spend cooking food for your loved ones here. The cabinets and countertops are necessary for each kitchen, regardless of its size. Perfectly installed kitchen cabinets and countertops will stay intact and damage-free for ages.
Most of the problems only arise because either cabinet wasn’t installed or leveled properly, or the countertop is installed carelessly. So, if you have hired installers for the work, make sure that they do the job nicely. And if you are doing it yourself, always follow all the steps properly. I hope this article would’ve helped you a lot!
Ayesha Ahmed is an English Literature graduate. Right now she is working as a teacher as well as a home, DIY writer. Apart from that she is also a home enthusiast who loves learning and writing about different home maintenance topics.