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How to install kitchen cabinets on plaster walls

Updated February 21, 2017

Installing a cabinet on plaster walls can prove to be difficult, depending on the make-up of the structure beneath the plaster. The plaster wall itself is not strong enough to support the weight of the cabinet, but installation into the wall studs should be sufficient for supporting the weight of the kitchen cabinets. Finding the studs though can be problematic with stud placement varying widely by home, depending on the age of the house or the manufacturing process. Once the studs are located, the process of hanging the cabinets is much like that used in hanging a cabinet on any other wall surface and should proceed smoothly.

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  1. Locate the wall studs in your kitchen wall. For newer homes, the studs should be a uniform distance apart. For older homes, they may vary. Studs can be located using a stud finder. If the plaster is placed on a metal lathe, the stud finder will not work correctly and you will have to locate the studs by knocking on the walls, listening for a solid sound and then sinking a probe consisting of a thin metal spike, into the wall to see if you have located a wall stud. Mark and measure the stud locations found.

  2. Make a level line on the wall with the chalk using a carpenter's level for the location of the bottom of the cabinet.

  3. Drill four holes in the rear of the cabinet with a 3/16-inch drill bit, spaced according to the measurement of the studs, two holes per stud.

  4. Place the cabinet against the wall using a cabinet jack to prop the cabinet into place. Put the cabinet jack beneath the cabinet, adjusting it so that it holds the cabinet level to the marked chalk line. If possible, get someone to help hold the cabinet in place as well.

  5. Drill starter holes into the wall studs using the holes in the cabinet as a guide.

  6. Remove the cabinet from the wall and run the 2 ½-inch deck screws through the holes in the rear of the cabinet, using cabinet washers to keep the screws level.

  7. Place the cabinet back on the wall using the cabinet jack to keep it level. Place wood shims between the rear of the cabinet and the wall to plumb and level the cabinet. Secure the cabinet in place using the wood screws. Remove the cabinet jack. The cabinet should remain secure against the plaster wall.

  8. Tip

    If the cabinet does not feel secure after installation, add more screws to hold it in place to the wall studs.

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Things You'll Need

  • Stud finder
  • Probe
  • Cabinet
  • Chalk
  • Carpenter's level
  • Cabinet jack
  • Electric drill with 3/16-inch bit
  • 2 ½-inch deck screws
  • Wood shims
  • Electric screwdriver

About the Author

Larry Simmons is a freelance writer and expert in the fusion of computer technology and business. He has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in information systems, an M.S. in communications technology, as well as significant work towards an M.B.A. in finance. He's published several hundred articles with Demand Studios.

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