Storage

Installing Garage Cabinets

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BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 193 Projects

If you’d prefer to keep your garage storables behind closed doors, a set of cabinets might be just the solution you’re looking for. Any interior kitchen cabinets can be used in a garage, including both base and upper cabinets. Base cabinets really offer several benefits: deep inner storage for large items; drawers for fasteners, hardware, or other small tools; and, of course, a convenient flat work surface. If you’re upgrading your garage storage on a budget, utility-grade melamine or unfinished cabinets are actually quite affordable.

As you plan, make sure there’s still room to park the car, bikes, and other yard and garden equipment. The process for installing cabinets in a garage is the same as in a kitchen. Cabinets must be firmly attached to wall studs, and they should be level and plumb. Using a level as a guide, draw reference lines along the project wall to indicate the locations of base and wall cabinets. If your garage floor is uneven, find the highest point of the floor along the wall and use this as your initial reference for drawing the other layout lines.

How to Install Garage Cabinets

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    Find the high point of the floor in the installation area by leveling a long, straight board and identifying the principal contact point with the floor. Mark the point on the floor with a grease pencil or tape.

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    Draw a level line along the wall to create a base cabinet top reference.

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    Draw reference lines for the upper cabinets based on the base cabinet line. If your base cabinets are 34 1⁄2" tall (standard height not including countertop) then the line for the tops of the upper cabinets should be 49 1⁄2" above the base cabinet line and parallel to it.

    Measure down from the upper cabinet top line 30" and mark reference lines for the bottom of the upper cabinets (make sure your cabinets are 30" high first—this is a standard but there is occasional variation).

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    Mark wall stud locations clearly on the wall just above the base cabinet line and just below the bottom upper cabinets line. Also mark stud locations slightly above the top upper cabinet line.

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    Attach ledgers to the wall or walls to provide temporary support for the upper cabinets while you install them. The ledgers (1 × 4 is being used here) should just touch the reference line for the bottom of the wall cabinet. Attach the ledger with a drywall screw driven at each stud location. Transfer stud location marks to the ledger.

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    If the cabinet has a mounting strip at the top of the back panel (most do), drive a pair of screws through the strip at each stud location. Attach all wall cabinets to the wall.

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    Join wall cabinets by driving 1 1⁄4" panhead screws through one cabinet side and into the adjoining cabinet side. Clamp the cabinets together first to make sure the fronts and tops stay flush.

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    Position the cabinet and shim it as needed until it is level, plumb, and touches the reference line (see step 2). Secure it to the wall with 2 1⁄2" drywall screws.

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    Install the remaining base cabinets by leveling the cabinet sides, screwing them to the wall studs, and then fastening them together. Attach toe-kick trim boards or side panel trim, if desired. Remove the upper cabinet wall ledger or ledgers.

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    Attach cabinet doors and drawers if you removed them during installation or if they were not preattached. Adjust the hinges according to the manufacturer’s instructions so the gaps between doors are even and they all open and close smoothly.

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    Make the work top. While a piece of postform countertop makes a suitable and easy-to-install work top, you can create a heavier, more durable top with plywood. Simply cut two pieces of 3⁄4" plywood so they overhang each side and the front of the cabinet base by 1". Secure them with panel adhesive and countersunk 1 1⁄4" screws. Use plenty of screws. Then cover the front and side edges with strips of 1 × 2. The front strip should overhang the front ends of the side strips. Attach the strips with adhesive and finish nails. Finally, cut a piece of 1⁄4"-thick hardboard so all edges are flush with the base. Attach it with 1" brads driven through slightly countersunk pilots holes (the heads need to be recessed). When the hardboard top becomes worn, you can easily remove it and replace it.

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    If your base cabinets do not have preattached mounting strips for a countertop, fasten L-brackets around the inside perimeter of each cabinet, and then drive screws up through the L-brackets and into the underside of the work top. Apply a bead of panel adhesive to all cabinet top surfaces for a better bond and to reduce clattering. Add a bench vise, if desired.