Attaching Cabinets To Concrete Or Steel Stud Walls

      Pros give tips on cleats and specialty screws. April 14, 2005

I have some cabinets to attach to both concrete and steel stud walls in a condo. I plan on shooting 3/4" wood strips into the concrete with a nail gun to attach the lowers where the counter will cover the gap. The uppers, however, need to be tight to the wall. I am considering metal "Z clips", but am open to anything that will make installation in the concrete and steel environment easier. Does anybody have helpful experience dealing with the non-wood zone?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor A:
Shoot a 1" thick hardwood Dutch cleat with the 45 angle cut on to the wall and use a 3/4" matching cleat on the cabinet back.

From contributor A:
I got my terminology mixed up. I was describing the hidden "French" cleat behind the cabinet where the "Dutch" cleat is the older exposed cleat inside the cabinet. Sorry.

From contributor B:
We use Tapcon (or equivalent) in concrete and sheet metal screws in steel.

From contributor C:
Use concrete anchors with 6mm diameter lag bolts or screws with 8mm anchors. Some use 8mm with 10mm anchors but I think thatís a little overrated. We do concrete and brick installs all day, every day. If the backs of the cabs are recessed you might want to think about using cleats in there somewhere. The best is the metal track on the wall with the adjusters inside the cabs, but I donít know what kind of cabs you are hanging.

From contributor D:
For concrete or concrete block I use Tapcons. Make sure you get your shimming right the first time, as they don't back out and go back in tight 60% of the time. Also the blue or green to me doesn't cut it; carry a supply that you've pre-painted silver and use beauty washers. For light gauge metal, 22 and 25 gauge, use sheet metal or painted fine thread drywall screws with washers. For heavier, 20 gauge metal, use self tapers, nickel plated. And actually if they're 25 gauge, I pray someone screwed up and put blocking in the walls.

From contributor G:
Iíve always used Hilti fasteners. A few days ago I was out so I decided to try Tapcons. They either break or strip, and are absolutely useless. I canít believe people use them.

From contributor E:
If you want a clean installation without visible fasteners, do it contributor Aís way. Unless the wall is perfectly straight, I would not fasten the Z clips to the wall. Instead, shim a full length cleat to the wall, and then mount the Z. The only reason to use the Z clips is that they don't take up as much depth, but if you have to shim them out, youíre not really gaining much. The 3/4" cleat system that Tele describes is pretty much standard around here. If you do go the Z route, use the full length extrusion, and you'll save time in shimming and leveling.

From the original questioner:
Could you give me a bit more detailed description of the French Cleat? Do you cut a wall cleat notched in an L shape then attach the reverse shape to the cabinet back so it locks in place? Is that it?

From Carl Hagstrom, Systems Administrator, WOODWEB:
I've included a link below to one of our Knowledge Base articles - you'll find some illustrations in that article.

Also, it often surprises me the WOODWEB search engine isn't used more often. It can be accessed in the upper right hand corner of nearly every page at the site. Try entering "hanging rail" (include the quotes ... it will limit the results to articles that contain the two word phrase), and you'll find a handful of helpful articles.
Scribing Cabinets and Z Clips

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