If you are interested in reading Part 2, it is here: IKEA Kitchen Install Part Dos – Cabinet Assembly

And here is the part we’ve all been waiting for – the Install!  Because what good are kitchen cabinets if they are not installed, right?  We’ve been holding on to these suckers for quite some time now – it’s time to get them in place.

Measure twice install once (or whatever the saying is)

The first thing we did was measure everything again and draw all the cabinets and filler spaces on the wall.  This is important to do before you hang the rails.  You want to make double sure of the measurements.

Preparing to hang the metal suspension rails from IKEA

If you’re like us, then you’ll spend alot of time thinking about this before you do it.  The first thing you’ll need to do is locate and mark up where the studs are in your wall.  The rails are only about 84 inches long and one of our walls was 161.5 inches so we had to use 2 rails.  One rail we had to cut down a bit (using a hack saw).  Actually, we ended trimming a bit off of both of them so that the holes in the rail would line up with the studs in the wall, for the most part.

We did on occasion drill through the metal rail for a couple of the studs because we figured it’s better to get the rail attached to the stud than not and we couldn’t get all the holes to line up with the studs perfectly.  And we didn’t really care if the rail could move up or down (which is I guess what you can do when you drill through the holes – you have more room to adjust if it’s not level, etc.  We did have about a 2 inch gap between the two rails but it’s in the middle of the very center cabinet which is not going to be a big deal.  You just have to make sure that the two rails are level with each other.

It was actually hard to find the studs on one of the walls because there was soundproofing between the units so we ended up using magnets which would locate where the dry wall screws are (they usually screw the drywall in at the studs).  This worked.  We noticed that the studs were placed pretty far apart in some cases though (24 inches) – it was very non-standard. If you are having trouble finding studs, you can also just drill some test holes because you can tell if you hit a stud or not when you drill the pilot hole though this is not ideal because you could hit a pipe or water line (eeek!!).

So, on one wall, the base cabinet railing ended at dry wall and there was about 16 inches to the next stud which was bothersome so Bryon put some dry wall anchors at the end and since it is a base cabinet – most of the weight will be supported by the legs so it shouldn’t be a big deal, but we were concerned about the wall cabinets on that side.  Turns out when we went to hang the wall cabinets, there was a supporting structure going horizontal across the top so we didn’t have to worry – everywhere we drilled, we hit a stud/supporting structure.  Nice and secure.

These are the screws we used.  It actually took us a while to decide on screws.  We wanted the screws to go about an inch and a half into the studs and we had several layers of drywall and soundproofing to get through.  So, we picked these 3 inchers:

Now, on one side, we have a little 12 inch cabinet between the cabinet and oven which doesn’t bode well with the metal hanging rail because the metal hanging rail was only barely going to reach one stud at the end of it and that would not be much support. The metal hanging rail also won’t fit behind the bottom of the pantry in order to reach another stud. The pantry is actually hung on the top rail but it doesn’t have that big of a gap all the way down. So, Bryon got an upper body workout with his hack saw and hacked off the lip of the metal rail so that we could get it into at least 2 studs to support that 12 inch cabinet. Here’s an example of this:
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Honestly, I don’t know how he did that. I couldn’t even be in the same room while he was using the hacksaw on the metal – the sound of it was like nails on a chalkboard times a thousand. Even upstairs, I could hear it and my hair was standing on end and my teeth were clenched together. It just made all my fillings hurt for some reason. Much respect to him for doing that.

Hanging the metal suspension rail

So, next, you want to get the metal suspension rail actually hung. The top of the rail should be at least 6/8 inches from the ceiling. We wanted our cabinets to go all the way to the ceiling so we contemplated ignoring that rule and hanging the metal suspension rail all the way at the ceiling but then we thought that the cabinet doors might not open. We seriously debated this and tested this for hours – this is part of our problem – indecision.

Ultimately, you need that 6/8 inches in order to have room to hang the cabinets on the rail itself, but there’s a way you could forgo that if you want to do the extra work of first hanging the metal cabinet clips onto the rail and then someone holds the cabinet up while you screw the cabinet clip into the cabinet. This would probably work if your ceilings were level but our ceilings weren’t even level so we didn’t bother trying – the doors probably wouldn’t open and that’s important for cabinets.

We also figured one of us would break our back trying to do this so let’s just do it the easy way and if we need to add some crown molding to the top later, we can.  We hung them exactly 6/8 inches down which isn’t going to leave much space for crown molding, but we got something really skinny and we’ll have to sand it down in places.  Maybe leave a little more space if you can.  We left about 17 inches of space between the wall cabinets and the counter top which is on the lower end of space so we didn’t want to eat into that space anymore than we had to.  Ideally, you want at least 18 inches of space there, but I think more than 15 is considered acceptable.

UPDATE: Looking back, we should’ve used the IKEA crown molding and left space for that.  The crown molding that comes with the GRIMSLOV cabinets is only about .5 inch thick, but they gave us the wrong molding – the one we got was 1.5 inch thick on the skinny side and we thought that would be too thick since we already had limited space above the countertop.  If we had gotten the right molding, we totally would’ve used that.  🙁  But we did find something that would work at Home Depot that is equally skinny if not skinnier and if at some later date we choose to, we can always add that.  I can have the paint matched at Home Depot by bringing in a cabinet door and paint it.  It’s just extra work that we wouldn’t have had to do if we had gotten the right molding in the first place.

You’ll want to draw marks along the wall using a square 6/8 inches down (or whatever distance you choose) and hang the railing at the lowest mark – get it level. Then, draw a line on the wall along the bottom of the metal suspension rail. Drill pilot holes into the studs in the center of the hole on the metal suspension rail. Put your screws in most of the way but not all the way. Make sure your rail is perfectly in place and level. Place the IKEA “washers” on the screws and then drill the screws all the way in to tighten. Boom! You’re done! With the rail, that is.. So, we put screws in each of the studs and then put some dry wall anchors in between those because IKEA recommends having a screw every 12 inches.

For the bottom rail, we followed the standard IKEA gave in the manual as far as the height.  I can’t remember what that height is right now but I’ll try to add it here later.  We debated going lower to have more space between the wall cabinet and base cabinet but ultimately decided to just use the standard because we wanted to make sure to have space for the legs (though we did saw the legs down to fit them underneath the pantry, it would be extra work to do that to every leg) and also to make sure the counter wasn’t too low.

Here’s some pictures of our rails (please ignore the mess):

On the short wall (base cabinets):

On the short wall (wall cabinets):

On the long wall (on this rail hangs the base sink cabinet and the 36 incher next to it):

On the long wall (this is the rail for the 12 inch cabinet – the only thing that hangs on it):

On the long wall – here’s the 2 wall cabinet rails side by side with a tiny gap in between (couldn’t get the whole rail on the other side in the same pic):

Hanging the cabinets

Boom! We thought we were done.  We went home on Cloud 9 thinking we accomplished ALOT.  But once we went back and started hanging the cabinets on the rail on the long wall, there was a gap between 2 of the cabinets that we couldn’t get rid of. And this is where we seriously contemplated quitting, y’all. It’s really hard to go from thinking you are done with the rails to having to start over. This was our lowest point where we had to muster all our emotional strength and spirit. If you are installing an IKEA kitchen yourself, you are guaranteed to have one of these moments at some point. Don’t give up!!! Maybe take a break and have a glass of wine or a cookie, but don’t give up! I kept thinking of all the people I could call and even dreamed of selling the building altogether.  The thought of taking the pantry down was enough to defeat us. That sucker is heavy and there is very little wiggle room to get it off in that space.  And we had already leveled it and put some extra supporting structure underneath it – 2×4’s (which we ended up not doing later – it doesn’t really need it).

Turns out, the wall was uneven and the metal rail wasn’t exactly flush on the long wall. We needed to add shims to the left side of the wall and pretty significant ones at that to get it to be flush with the right side of the wall. We basically shimmed the entire left side of the wall up to the halfway point. Starting from the mid point, we put smaller shims and they got progressively thicker as we reached the end of the wall. We also had to take the pantry out which we were trying to avoid and we ended up putting that in last after we got everything else to line up without gaps.

The pantry is hanging on the rail but we also have it supported by 4 legs. It’s just so hard to get it off and on the rail that we were really trying to avoid that so putting it in last after we made sure there were no gaps was the smartest option.   The pantry would not fit in the space we had with the legs on it so my husband sawed down the legs so that we would be able to get them underneath the pantry.  Instead of being 4 inches, the legs are about 2 1/2 inches underneath the pantry.

Here’s our pantry – be sure to install the cover panel on there (as shown here) before hanging the other cabinets since it’s full length.  You’ll have to cut a notch out of the cover panel so that the metal rail can run behind it, but make sure you make this notch deep enough (length-wise) or you will have a hard time getting the pantry off of the metal rail like we did.  :-p  This notch will be hidden by the cabinet next to it so it really doesn’t matter too much how it looks.

Panel between dishwasher and oven

We had to add a panel between the dishwasher and oven because they are right next to each other – deciding where this went was tricky because after we measured our oven, we found out that it was actually 30 1/8 inch wide which is more than the standard 30 inches. It was 29 7/8 at the top, but 30 1/8 inch at the bottom in the back. This is something to beware of when you are doing your measurements. So, we left a gap of 30 1/4 inches for the oven and exactly 24 inches for the dishwasher since these are usually a bit smaller than 24. I read up on this before we actually made this permanent because I wanted to make double sure and found that many contractors have been burned (not literally) by the oven spacing –  so leave 30 1/4 inches just in case.  We did and we are very happy with it.

IKEA sells a special panel that is used specifically to support the counter between the dishwasher and the oven. We thought it was 1/2 inch but turns out it’s 5/8 inch and then we needed 1/4 more inches for the oven so this left an extra 3/8 inches that we weren’t accounting for on the wall cabinets (trying to keep everything symmetrical).

This is how we secured the panel to the wall:

This is how we secured the panel to the floor on the dishwasher side:

Adjusting the cabinets to make sure symmetric

We decided to buy another cover panel to put on the other side of the 30 inch cabinet that goes above the oven which would make that space 31 inches wide and then the space below for the oven and panel would be 30 7/8 (30 1/4 for the oven + 5/8 for the panel) – very close – no one will notice 1/8 inch off. And we figured it looks better anyway for the cabinet above the oven to have cover panels on both sides (as opposed to just one side) – not that it mattered though.

Well, this shifting around and adding more space for the oven caused us to have to remove the bottom rail and move it over a bit – about a half an inch. I had the countertop people coming so we needed to have this panel done between the dishwasher and oven. We didn’t end up getting the bottom cabinets scooted over half an inch but I signed off on a paper, in blood, that said we were responsible for moving the cabinets over half an inch. Normally, they don’t do this but I offered to sign in blood.  :-p

Holes for plumbing and electrical

My husband had to cut out the holes for the plumbing a little wider to accomodate the half-inch which he was super bummed about because the holes were miraculously perfect the first time (when things are miraculously perfect is usually a sign that something else is wrong – immediately start looking for the something else :-p). Now, the holes for the plumbing look more like tiny butts – perfect butts though so can’t complain.  This is why you want to dry fit everything before cutting the holes out.  We bought outlet boxes that have a lead screw on them so that they adjust in and out – since the cabinets have a gap between the wall and cabinet (due to the metal hanging rails).

We had to cut a hole out of the cabinet that’s above the microwave to allow for the vent which vents to the outside.  Here’s a picture of that (we just narrowly avoided that cam – this is one of the reasons we left no filler on that side of the pantry):

Leveling the cabinets and putting on the legs

You’ll want to put a level on the base cabinets and adjust the legs to make sure they are level.  We discovered that with the drywall around the pipes, the wall stuck out too much at the bottom and made it impossible to level the base cabinets around the sink area.  So, we had to cut the dry wall out and use aluminum (won’t rust) sheet metal around the pipes because it’s thinner and more flexible and wouldn’t cause our cabinets to stick out and not be level. We had to also cut out some of the drywall further down (behind the 36 inch cabinet) and use the sheet metal because the pipes were causing it to stick out too far there also and causing our cabinets to not be level.

You’ll want to have all the cut outs for plumbing and electrical done before securing the cabinets to each other, as well.

Undercabinet lighting

Another tip, if you are using IKEA undercabinet lighting – be sure to put the cables in place behind the cabinets before you start securing them together, etc. You will have to pull them out a bit to get cables in there and sometimes they have to go on either side of the pads on the back of the cabinet – you’ll want to make sure you have that figured out and get them in place. You don’t need to have the lighting in place necessarily but the cables, for sure.

NOTE: we decided not to go with IKEA undercabinet lighting because of reviews and backsplash unknowns with the wires coming down from behind the cabinets (there’d have to be gaps in the backsplash or the backsplash would have to be tiled up to the light, etc – too non standard to find any information about it and the electrician wasn’t familiar with IKEA products).  So, we are just going to hard wire some undercabinet LED lights we got from Home Depot.

Screw cabinets together

Now, it’s time to screw the cabinets to each other. First, you want to clamp the 2 cabinets together. Then, you drill the pilot holes and use the screws given to attach the cabinets together. Then, you want to use the gray clippy things to lock the cabinet in place on the rail – this prevents it from moving around.

I just ordered a quartz countertop and backsplash from Home Depot so we are getting so close I can taste the first dish we will make in this kitchen! We will have to test out our work, eh? Heck, I’m thinking about moving in! Too bad it’s a rental and not our house! :-p  Flooring company isn’t coming until Jan. 19th so have a while to wait yet.

More pics:

Read on for the rest of the install:

IKEA Kitchen Install Part Uno – Planning Design

IKEA Kitchen Install Part Dos – Cabinet Assembly

IKEA Kitchen Install Part Tres- Cabinet Install

IKEA Kitchen Install Parto Quatro – Finishing Touches

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