How to Secure Your Kitchen Cabinets For the Strongest Support
Having installed kitchen cabinets for the past 15 years, it has almost become an automatic process for me when building and installing cabinets. I actually forgot what it was like to install my first set of new kitchen cabinets. I was surprised at how many DIY’ers that were leaving messages on my blog were asking questions about how to secure the cabinets.
One of the common mistakes that was occurring was that the installer was connecting the cabinet sides together, rather than connecting them at the face frame. While this isn’t a problem with frameless cabinets, it becomes a problem with framed cabinets because of the “lip” that overlaps the sides of the cabinets. Why are frameless cabinets installed differently? First let’s talk about how the cabinets are built.
Traditional cabinets with a face frame have a groove that the side panels fit into to create a stronger and sturdier cabinet. Since this groove is not on the very edge of the cabinet, the face frame usually overlaps the sides of the cabinet by 3/16″ or somewhere around the distance. While this creates a stronger cabinet, it prevents you from securing the sides of the cabinets together without using a spacer in-between.
Since kitchen cabinets are attached to the wall first and get the majority of their support from there, you really only need to secure the face frames to each other in order to create a strong horizontal support. By trying to secure the sides to each other, you can create one of two problems- either the sides will bow out and weaken the cabinet, or it will create some separation at the face frame. While this is more of a cosmetic issue, it can easily be avoided by securing the cabinets to each other through the face frame and not through the sides.
This also applies the base cabinets, which will have the same characteristics as the wall cabinets mentioned above. For frameless cabinets, they actually gain strength by securing the sides of the cabinets to each other. Without a face frame to tie everything together, they are relying on support from the back and the sides. Since they do not have the lip on the sides, they can be secured tightly together.
So if you are planning on installing your own kitchen cabinets, it is important to consider which type of cabinets you are installing(frameless or framed), and use the appropriate technique to ensure a strong bond and proper support.