How to hang kitchen cabinets on metal studs

Some do-it-yourself homeowners risk losing their crockery and glassware by attaching wall cabinets incorrectly. Since loaded kitchen cabinets are heavy, attaching them through drywall with toggle bolts is the wrong way to tackle the job. Always use a stud finder to locate hidden studs, and attach the cabinets to studs with at least two sturdy fasteners screwed through the back of the cabinet two inches from the top of the unit. While you can safely use screws to attach cabinets to wood studs, if your drywall happens to be fixed to steel studs, extra care and special fasteners are required.

Slide an electronic stud finder across the wall; the instrument will light up or beep when you reach the edge of a stud. Mark the centre point of the studs on the wall with a pencil. Measure the distance from the edge of the cabinet to the two marks with a steel measuring tape. Subtract the thickness of the cabinet side wall, transfer the stud locations to the inside rear face of the cabinet and mark the position of four mounting holes with a pencil.

Drill four 3/16-inch mounting holes through the marked points in the back of the cabinet with a cordless drill/driver. Lift the cabinet into position, place a spirit level inside the cabinet and centre the bubble. Mark the position of the mounting points accurately on the wall by drilling shallow pilot holes into the drywall through the existing holes in the cabinet, using the same drill bit.

Drill four 3/16-inch pilot holes through the drywall and the metal studs. Hold the drill/driver at right angles to the wall in two directions while doing so, and use a sharp drill bit.

Enlarge the pilot holes in the wall and through the metal studs with a sharp 3/8-inch metal twist drill.

Fold the toggle arm of a special toggle bolt insert flat against the two thin nylon rods protruding from the moulded toggle base. Insert the folded toggle through the hole and pull it back to open the toggle flat against the metal stud. Pull the ends of the nylon rods and push the flanged insert into the hole until it clicks into place firmly against the drywall. Bend the nylon rods and snap them off flush with the face of the flanged insert; repeat with the other three toggle bolts.

Enlarge the mounting holes in the back of the cabinet with a 7/64-inch drill bit to allow some wiggle room. Lift the cabinet into place with the help of an assistant. Insert the top left mounting bolt and snug it into the toggle bolt insert with a screwdriver bit and drill/driver. Place the spirit level inside the cabinet and centre the bubble by tapping the far end of the cabinet up or down with a rubber mallet.

Insert the three remaining bolts and tighten all four securely with the drill/driver to complete the installation.

Things You'll Need

  • Electronic stud finder
  • Pencil
  • Steel measuring tape
  • Set of twist drills
  • Cordless drill/driver
  • Special toggle bolts
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About the Author

After graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand and qualifying as an aircraft engineer, Ian Kelly joined a Kitchen remodeling company and qualified as a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD). Kelly then established an organization specializing in home improvement, including repair and maintenance of household appliances, garden equipment and lawn mowers.