Nine Tips to Install IKEA Kitchen Cabinets
It’s been a while since we chatted about our laundry room project, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been working on this space! Finn and I have spent every weekend working to finish up this room and it’s coming together beautifully. Never did I think I would have a dedicated room for laundry, not to mention a nice looking one!
As we discussed in this post, we ended up choosing IKEA kitchen cabinets for extra storage in this space. I actually went into the store and worked with one of their kitchen designers (for free) to figure out exactly what we needed. It was nice because I was also able to see the colors in person and figure out exactly what I wanted for our room. In the end, I decided to go with the SEKTION cabinets with dark green BODBYN doors. I really loved the deep color and the traditional front on the cabinets. Here’s the rendering they gave me…
I placed my order and two weeks later all of our boxes were delivered (P.S. I highly recommend having them deliver everything. We only paid $69 and it was well worth not having to stuff it all into our car and make the 2-hour round trip).
Nine Tips to Install IKEA Kitchen Cabinets
Just like when we DIY’ed our master bedroom closet, it’s super overwhelming when all of those IKEA boxes arrive. Like whoa, where do you even begin?! Lucky for you, we made all of the mistakes so you don’t have to. Here are our top nine tips to install IKEA kitchen cabinets (whether it’s for a kitchen or any other room in your home!).
Organize All Those Boxes
Our laundry room isn’t huge and we were only adding five cabinets. But holy smokes, you would think we were installing ten laundry rooms with the number of boxes that arrived. I can’t even imagine an entire kitchen (whoa baby!). Before you start tearing open boxes, be sure to get them all organized. I highly recommend having your order sheet handy so you can confirm you have everything as you go.
You can either organize with all the same pieces going together or you can put all the pieces for each cabinet together. We chose the latter. The entire first floor of our home had different stations for all five cabinets and their accompanying parts. It was chaos for a good day, but worth it to get everything organized and make sure all pieces were accounted for.
Build in the Right Spots
Our setup consisted of three pull-out trash cans (those would be our hampers) and two tall 15-inch wide and 24-inch deep cabinets. Because our laundry room isn’t huge, we knew we couldn’t build everything in there. It would be way too crammed! Instead, we put the three hamper cabinets together in our living room before getting started on anything in the actual room itself. Once those were completed, we moved on to the two tall cabinets.
Because these cabinets are 90 inches tall and our ceilings are 96 inches high, we decided to build them right in the room. That way we wouldn’t have to worry about squeezing them through the doorway. Plus, there was no way we were going to build them downstairs and carry them up. It was tight building them in the small laundry room, but we made it work and it was that much easier standing them up since we were already in the right spot!
Note: Make sure your ceilings are tall enough for your cabinets. In our master bedroom closet, we made the mistake of building one of our units on the ground but soon realized we didn’t have enough clearance to tilt it upright. It was such a pain and slowed our entire project down. Take lots of measurements ahead of time and make sure all your cabinets will fit!
Have the Right Tools Handy
When it comes to IKEA kitchen cabinets, you’ve gotta build it all yourself! So be prepared to have lots of tools on hand. Here are some of the tools you’ll need to have available…
- Philips Screwdriver
- Flathead Screwdriver
- Tape Measure
- Drills (we each had one to keep things moving!)
- Countersink Drill Bit
- Small Level
- Medium Level
- Dremel or Hacksaw (to cut the metal rail)
- Stud Finder
- Cabinet Screws
- Heavy-Duty Anchors/Screws
- Circular Saw
- Nail Gun
- Miter Saw
- Crowbar & Utility Knife (to remove baseboard)
There are actually quite a lot of power tools on this list, which surprised me a bit. Depending on your setup, you might not need to use them all. The IKEA system is secured via a long metal rail, so you will need some sort of tool to cut that. We used our Dremel with a metal bit but switched to a hacksaw halfway because it was hard to get all the way through with our round bit (we needed a straight one for this job!).
We also had to use our jigsaw to cut out a portion of the back of one cabinet so our outlet would be available. If you don’t have that situation, you might not need to have a jigsaw on hand.
Quick Tip: If you do have to cut the back of your IKEA kitchen cabinets, a few readers had a genius way to mark the exact spot on the cabinet. Put toothpaste (or lipstick) on the outline of the cabinet and then butt your cabinet up to the wall so it makes a mark on there. You’ll then know where to cut! We ended up doing math and our end result wasn’t perfect.
Keep Things Level
Once your cabinets are built and your rail is cut, it’s time to hang your rail. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that your rail is level. Triple check this over and over to make sure it’s perfect before screwing it in. It will affect the rest of your install and you don’t want wonky cabinets! We ended up using both a small and medium-sized level for this project (so have both handy!).
Try to Hit Those Studs
When hanging those rails, try your best to hit as many studs as you can. That will ensure that things are as sturdy and safe as possible. IKEA recommends securing the rail to the wall every 12 inches, and since most studs are 16 inches apart, you’re bound to miss a few studs. In these areas, make sure you use heavy-duty anchors. These are the ones we used that worked like a charm!
Once your cabinets are hung, you want to make sure things are still level. The legs on each cabinet will come in handy to make little tweaks. We used our small level to make sure things were good front to back and side to side. We would then move the legs up and down accordingly. Make sure each cabinet is level and good before moving onto the next one!
Use Clamps & a Countersink Bit
You’ll want to connect each cabinet to the next as you install them. That’s where clamps come in handy (this is a good pack of them)! We would place one on the top of the cabinet and one on the bottom to squeeze the cabinets before screwing them together.
I then made pilot holes into the cabinets before attaching them together. For this situation, I used a countersink bit (here’s a good set of them). This type of drill bit allows a screw to sit flush against the wood (instead of sticking out). I highly recommend picking up a countersink bit so your screws disappear into the cabinets a bit.
As you attach each cabinet together, again, make sure everything is level as you go. So very important!
Add a Toekick
It’s the finishing touches from IKEA that really bring the entire look together. Finn and I installed all of the cabinets in one weekend and then picked up the project the next. I actually posted the above photo on Instagram and a few people remarked at the “ugly cabinet legs”. I chuckled because these cabinets aren’t yet finished! Yes, they’re installed, but it’s the toe kick, filler pieces, and crown that really make things look amazing!
The toe kick is actually super easy to install. The toe kick (in the color to match your cabinets) has a notched side on the back where you can slide in these hooks. Those hooks then directly attach to the cabinet legs for a tight grip.
We used our miter saw to cut the exact length of the toe kick we needed and then popped one on the front and side of the cabinets. It was surprisingly easy! Just don’t forget to buy these pieces with your IKEA kitchen cabinets.
Use Our Side Panel Trick
We want our cabinets to feel built-in, so we knew we knew we would need a few filler pieces. With IKEA kitchen cabinets, it’s suggested that you leave a 2-inch gap on the side of the cabinets so the door can open easily. So we installed it that way, but of course, you’re left with the ugly looking gap. We ended up buying an extra cover panel (in the same color green) to cut to size to fill this gap.
We took multiple measurements all the way down the opening on the side and then marked those directly onto the board. Most walls aren’t totally straight and level, so it’s best to take lots of measurements and make a straight line that way, instead of just cutting a two-inch piece. With our line made, Finn cut the piece using our circular saw.
But then it was a little tricky…how the heck do we attach this piece? I browsed online while he made the cuts and came up with the following idea.
We had some leftover MDF from our bathroom wood wall, so Finn cut three 2-inch blocks for me. I then screwed these into the back of the filler piece at the top, middle, and bottom.
We put the filler piece in place and while Finn held it, I secured screws through the side of the cabinet into the three wood blocks.
It worked like a charm and we didn’t have any holes or screws on the front side of the filler strip. Honestly, we were both so surprised at how easy and efficiently this worked. I highly recommend this technique if you want your IKEA kitchen cabinets to look more built-in!
Crown Makes a Huge Difference
The last finishing touch was the crown molding at the top of the tall cabinets. Again, IKEA sells this to match your cabinet color so be sure to order it when you order your cabinets! We had about two inches at the top and really wanted a finished look up there.
I wish we had good tips for cutting the crown molding, but we aren’t that skilled at it yet. Just know that you have to use the miter saw to make 45-degree angle cuts and then you put them together at the corners. It kinda messes with your head a bit to get the angles just right, so just go slow and don’t overcut your pieces.
To install them, Finn screwed through the top of the cabinets and secured them in place. Because ours weren’t 100% tight with the ceiling, we used wood shims so he had a good surface to push against while screwing them in.
In the end, it was totally worth it to take the time to add all of the finishing touches to this space.
Tomorrow, I’m planning to share the next step in this project…adding the butcher block countertop. It really makes this cabinet wall look complete and I can’t wait to show you guys how we did that!
Catch Up On Laundry Room Posts
- Floor Tile
- The Before & Gameplan
- Installing Cabinets
- Adding Butcher Block
- Tiling the Wall
- Laundry Room Makeover – The Reveal
I used these cabinets again…this time for a totally different project. Come see my built-in linen cabinet in our bathroom right here.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.