Robert Lamoureux | A cabinet self-install can help save money

Robert Lamoureux
Robert Lamoureux
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Question No. 1  


We’re remodeling our kitchen and want to install new cabinets. However, we need to save money where we can by doing work ourselves. This will give us more options to choose the products we prefer.  

For cabinet installation, I think I can do this myself, but what are some of the basic “tricks” needed to be successful at this? Any chance you can share some insider information with me?  

I am pretty skilled, just need some pointers.  

Thank you in advance.  

— Josh R.  

Answer No. 1  


If you are in any way handy, you can certainly save some money by installing cabinets yourself. Lower cabinets are easier than uppers but, with some help from a friend, you can tackle the uppers as well.  

You’ll need a couple different sized levels, shims and ladders, plus the necessary screws to attach and secure.  

For the upper cabinets you’ll have to measure from the ground to the bottom of the cabinet and set it at the standard height, ensuring that you have noted your stud placement so you can hit them without damaging your new cabinets.  

Always check for plum and level, and continue to do so along the way, as most walls are not perfect. You may need to shim behind the cabinets to get this right. Don’t skip this step, or you’ll have an uneven look when you’re done.  

If you are installing under-cabinet lighting, be sure to install electrical prior to the cabinets to make your life easier.  

For the bottom cabinets, check for electrical outlets needed within as well as plumbing, and cut necessary holes in the backs of the cabinets to accommodate these. Electrical outlets can cause a distance issue between the cabinet and the box in the wall, so you can use what is called an arc shield. This closes the gap between the two, per code. Shim for plum and level and secure cabinets to walls and each other.  

Pre-drilling your cabinets for these holes is a good idea, to prevent any splitting. This will get you to the point where measurements can be taken for countertops, and you should be good to go.  

— Robert 

Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected]. 

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