Should You Install Plywood for Mounting Kitchen Cabinets?

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Builders use several methods when installing wall cabinets in a kitchen. While some simply hang the cabinets directly on the wall, others use plywood panels to create separation between the wall and cabinet. Both methods are correct, but there are benefits to installing cabinets using plywood panels. This method may save you money down the road, as the plywood panels provide proper ventilation.

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Using Plywood Panels

Plywood panels are mounted directly onto the wall where the cabinets will hang. Use a wall stud finder to find the studs prior to drilling. Mount the panels using installation screws, so they reach into two or more wall studs. Use at least two plywood panels, one placed at the top and one at the bottom for consistency. The cabinets are then mounted to the plywood panels using sturdy wall screws and a cordless drill. The space between the wall and the cabinet is that of the plywood’s thickness.

On-Wall Mounting Procedure

Mounting cabinets directly on the wall requires some planning, as you need to outline the cabinets on the wall first. Use a measuring tape to determine with width and height of the cabinet you are hanging. Use a pencil, level and measuring tape to draw the outline of the cabinet on the wall. Locate wall studs within the cabinet outline and mark them with the pencil. Apply wood glue around the back of the cabinet and place it inside the drawn frame on the wall. Use a drill to insert the screws through the back panel, so they reach the studs.

Air Circulation

One benefit of using plywood panels when hanging kitchen cabinets is that air can travel freely between the wall and the cabinet, drying potential water or damp. Cabinets around the stove, dishwasher or sink are more prone to dampness and water, meaning an increased chance of mold and decay. The space between the cabinet and wall allows air to come through, drying potential dampness.

Considerations

Use a level to ensure the cabinets are even, whether you are hanging them directly on the wall or using the plywood panel method. Do not use your ceiling or floor as your guide when determining the location of the cabinets on the wall. If you are installing the plywood panels, use the level to ensure these are placed evenly on the wall as well. In addition, do not attach cabinet doors, hinges or add-in shelving options until the cabinets are fully installed. The cabinet becomes heavier with the door attached, which may influence the evenness of the cabinet on the wall.

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