Kitchen cabinets are built to last a long time, consisting of a core structure with moveable parts. Yet, they will undergo a lot of wear and tear. Cabinet doors open and close, they bear the weight of countertops, and hold heavy items on the shelves.
Keep on reading to learn about reinforcing kitchen cabinets. You will learn about supporting the core structure as well as the moving parts of your cabinetry.
How To Reinforce Kitchen Cabinets
Kitchen cabinets may need reinforcement as a whole unit or only on certain parts. The following directions offer steps that look at the cabinetry as a whole. So, you may be able to skip some steps (and tools) if it does not apply to your cabinetry needs.
Things You’ll Need
- Table saw
- Miter saw
- General tools and accessories – hammer, screwdrivers, weight-bearing screws, wood putty, measuring tape, etc.
- Drill and its accessories
- Safety Gear – mask, gloves, eye protection
1. Build a kitchen cabinet carcass
The sides and walls of cabinets bear the weight of countertops and may need internal framing for reinforcement. If you want to reinforce cabinets for concrete or granite countertops, a cabinet carcass can provide support. Often this technique provides strong structural support throughout all of the interiors.
The specific logistics for your cabinet carcass are going to vary. It is important to measure the size, shapes, and angles of your cabinets.
This video on YouTube describes how to build a carcass with accommodations for drawers. It also comes with a free universal template.
Additionally, if you can remove your countertops, install a thick plywood top underneath it, to allow for a more even distribution of weight.
A cabinet carcass can also be used for reinforcing cheap particle board cabinets. Cabinets made from this material tend to bend or bow under excessive weights.
2. Install angled metal hardware in areas that are bending or need support
You can put in iron or steel hardware that fits into the angles inside the cabinets’ corners and seams. This will brace the cabinets for heavier weights and provide support.
This is a discrete, yet sturdy way to reinforce kitchen cabinets. There are various sizes and shapes that you can install.
Take inventory of and measure areas that you wish to put the hardware in before purchasing them.
Some kitchen appliances are very heavy and can cause shelving to bow in the middle. You can also install hardware on shelves that are bending by adding a metal piece underneath the middle of the shelf.
3. Replace or tighten moving parts
Kitchen cabinet hinges and moving shelf parts can become worn with heavy use and need reinforcement or replacement. Tighten screws and replace parts as needed. Often you can find a kitchen cabinet repair kit that gives you the parts for replacing a hinge.
This is a good time to repair damaged kitchen cabinet doors. You can sand and repaint or restain them. Give your cabinets a good cleaning too.
4. Support the empty space underneath floor cabinets
Look and see if the thin horizontal “legs” called kick frames are bending or bowing along the bottom of your floor cabinets. The hidden space underneath your cabinets, behind these kick frames, may need support.
If possible, remove the legs and place solid blocks of wood that are pressure-treated in the open or empty space. You can then replace or put the old kick frames back on. You’ll need to paint or match the stain for any new pieces.
5. The backs of cabinets should be securely attached to the wall
Medium-density fiberboard cabinets can pull away from the wall if the wooden nailer strip splits or fails. Overburdened cabinets could also pull away from the wall supports.
You may need to reinforce and fix the kitchen cabinets attached to the wall.
Hopefully, upon installation, your upper cabinets were secured to the wall studs. If not, you may need a professional to safely reattach your cabinets. If they need reinforcement with thicker wood, then the entire front of the cabinet may need to be removed to put in a new layer.
There are different types of anchors used to attach cabinets to the wall. The Robertson screw is slowly gaining popularity in the United States, since it has a larger head for more holding power. It requires its own style of screwdriver. Regardless, you should use a screw designed for bearing weight and for use with cabinetry.
You can replace any toggle bolts and plastic wall anchors with weight-bearing screws. These screws should go through the cabinet nailer inside the cabinet at the top into a stud. There may be another strip at the bottom as well. If you add in a plywood backing you will have more options to securely attach the cabinets instead of just using the nailer strip.
This will be a labor-intensive step. It may be best to have a professional that knows how to do this to return your cabinetry to its original position.
Other Wall Cabinet Issues
Oftentimes, when you start a repair job, other issues arise such as these:
- Wall Repair: If a cabinet is coming off of the wall, it will need to be reattached to studs and will likely result in the need to repair and putty the wall itself. If tile extends up behind the cabinets, it may need to be removed or repaired during the process.
- Bad Studs: Another issue is if the wall studs are rotten or infested with termites, the cabinets will fall from the wall. The only way to correct this problem is to replace the studs. This will require removing the cabinets and drywall for a bigger and more intensive repair project.
General Tips and Considerations
Consider the following when reinforcing kitchen cabinets to save yourself some time and to reduce frustration:
Before removing shelves, doors, and so on, take a picture of how it looks assembled. Label parts as you remove them.
You could write on painter’s tape, put small pieces in labeled baggies, or label pieces of paper and place the parts on them. This will help you to reassemble everything with the same fasteners and positioning to line up again properly.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The cabinetry is bulky and heavy. You may need someone to hold a flashlight for you too.
Go to YouTube for visual examples of how to do specific steps of repair, reinforcement, and bracing.
You can also look for ways in which to remove tiles or laminate from behind wall cabinets or under flooring that is inhibiting the repair of your cabinets.
If you find more issues as you work on the cabinets, don’t let the project overwhelm you. It may be more cost-effective to call in a professional before the damage gets out of control.
Update The Look
If you are putting in all of this work to reinforce the cabinets, you can consider updating their look with new hardware or drawer fronts. Perhaps you will want to paint your ceramic tile backsplash while you are working in the kitchen too.
Rearrange the Contents of Your Cabinets
Avoid overloading wall cabinets. Excess weight can put too much pressure on the fasteners connecting the cabinet to the wall. Or, excess weight can pull the structure of the cabinet apart at the seams.
Remove contents or rearrange them inside to more evenly distribute weight. Put heavier items on the lower shelves to reduce stress on the fasteners.
We hope this guide helped you to find solutions to reinforce cabinets in your kitchen without replacing them. Be prepared for a labor-intensive project, and have a willingness to ask for help if the project demands more than what you can handle.
Easing the stress on your cabinetry by securely attaching it to the wall and reinforcing the inside can help it to serve its purpose for your use for a long time.