How To Level Cabinets On Uneven Floor: A Complete Guide

There is one solid rule to follow when installing kitchen cabinetry – all cabinets must be installed level so that the doors can open and close properly. A level installation also provides a solid base for the counter. This thing, however, could be challenging to achieve for your base cabinets if the floor is uneven. Thankfully, the issue isn’t too serious, as there are ways to fix it with some carpentry tricks.

There are two methods to level cabinets on an uneven floor. One technique is scribing, which involves cutting the base of your cabinets so that it fits the contours of your floor. The other is shimming and involves filling any gaps between the floor and cabinets to create a level base.

Do Cabinets Need To Be Perfectly Level?

Yes, it is essential for your cabinets to be perfectly level, and for more than one reason. The most obvious one is stability. Base cabinets installed on an uneven floor are all wobbly.

This predicament goes beyond the frustration that comes with cabinets that aren’t still; if you attach the countertop to the wall or backsplash, you’re risking that it cracks. But then, if you don’t attach it, spills and splashes can make their way behind the cabinets and damage the wood materials.

Your plumbing also might be at risk. If the cabinets are wobbly, your sink is wobbly too. If you’re not too fond of loose faucets and drain pipes, you may want your cabinets to be level.

Lastly, uneven cabinets are not functional. You may have trouble either closing or opening the doors, and the drawers might tend to open or close, too, if the floor is sloped towards the center of the room or the wall. 

Leveling Cabinets On Uneven Floor in 5 Easy Steps

Leveling cabinets on uneven floors sounds complicated, but you’d be surprised how many houses have, in fact, uneven flooring. Thus, this is something most people have to deal with. Follow the quick steps below to install your cabinets flush with the floor using shims.

Things You Will Need

  • Stepladder
  • Laser level
  • Stud finder
  • Cedar shims 
  • Screws 
  • Drill driver 
  • Tape measure

Step 1 – Set a level based on cabinet height

To install the cabinets flush with the floor using shims, you must first create a level height for their installation.

To do that, place a stepladder in the middle of the room and use it as a support for a laser level. Adjust the laser line height based on the height of your cabinets – use a tape measure to measure the distance from the floor to the top of the cabinets and mark the point on the wall. Use this point as a guide for your laser and align the beam so that it’s level. 

Step 2 – Determine the highest point of your floor.

Once you have positioned the laser level at the height of your cabinets, use the tape measure and check the distance from the floor to the level every 12 inches or so. Write the numbers on a piece of paper; this will help you determine which is the highest point of your floor.

Step 3 – Adjust the laser level

Now that you know which is the highest point, measure your cabinets’ height from this point and mark it on the wall. 

Adjust the height of the level to this point; you’ll have to end up with a straight line along the wall that will guide you during installation.

Step 4 – Find the studs and install the cabinets

Use the stud finder to locate the studs behind the drywall. Mark the position of each stud on the wall, then start installing the cabinets following the level guide provided by the laser beam. Don’t worry if some cabinets don’t touch the floors at this stage; you’re going to fix this in the next step.

Step 5 – Level the floor with shims

After you’ve installed all base cabinets, check their top again with the laser level and make sure they are perfectly aligned. If necessary, adjust the cabinet boxes by unscrewing and fastening them back to the wall, then level the floor with cedar shims.

This part is easy; all you have to do is hammer the shims under the cabinets. This will give the cabinets a solid base and more structural support for the countertop.

How To Install Base Cabinets On Uneven Floors

If you don’t want to use shims, you can level the cabinets by cutting their bases. You will create a solid base that is flush with the floor and a leveled top.

Step 1 – Determine the lowest point of your floor

Follow the steps above to level the top of the cabinets, but this time use the lowest point of the floor as a guide.

Step 2 – Mark out the excess material

Install the cabinet boxes at about ¼ of an inch from the floor. Place a pencil on a compass and keep the other point of the compass against the floor. The pencil end should go slightly above the baseboard of the cabinets.

Draw a line by dragging the compass along the floor. The line will follow the floor contours, showing you exactly where to cut.

Step 3 – Cut the cabinet base

Take off the cabinets and cut their base following the line you drew earlier. The easiest way to do this is with a reciprocating saw, but a hacksaw or circular saw will also do.

Step 4 – Repair the wall

Repair the wall by filling the gaps with drywall filler. You can repaint the area or leave it as it is since it will be hidden behind the cabinets.

Step 5 – Install the cabinets 

Reinstall the cabinets flush with the floor. You should now have a straight, level top. Check with a level and make any necessary adjustments before installing the doors and drawers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Perhaps it is now clear how to level cabinets on uneven floors, but you may still have questions. Check out the answers below.

Should cabinets sit on the subfloor?

Generally, cabinets come before flooring, which means they sit on the subfloor. This installation is preferred because it prevents wasting money to install flooring on surfaces that you don’t walk onto and don’t see. However, if you want the versatility to change the kitchen layout without troubling to install new floors, you can install floors under the cabinets, too.

Should I empty the cabinets before installing the countertop?

Emptying the cabinets before installing a countertop is recommended since you won’t have to worry about dust dirtying your pots, pans, and kitchen utensils. Emptying them will also protect any fragile items.

Do you install Toe kicks before or after flooring?

Toe kicks are usually installed after flooring. This makes it easier to clean any food particles, splashes, or spills.


Leveling cabinets on an uneven floor requires some skills, but it isn’t that hard to do. Owning a laser level is key to proper leveling and installation, so if you don’t have one already, it’s time to go shopping.

Have you ever installed cabinets on uneven floors? Which of the two methods above do you prefer? Tell us in a comment.

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