Attaching Wall Cabinets to Steel Studs

Steel wall framing poses a particular challenge when it's time to hang upper cabinets. Here are a few installation tips. November 19, 2005

What is the best method and fastener for attaching cabinets to drywall covered steel studs?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor D:
I use #10 x 2-1/2" wood screw at 3 per stud with 2 in the top and 1 in the bottom for the uppers. I use 2 in the top to insure that at least one really does grab. I have never had trouble with cabinets that I have installed myself this way but I have had to go back and install toggle bolts on some cabinets that have let go recently that were installed by employees.

I think that they over tightened the screws and stripped them out. I prefer wood backing but it's not allowed in many buildings these days. A lot of architects are specifying 16 Ga. sheet steel backing. I find that this doesn’t work very well because the screws just push it out of the way so you still have to hit a stud.

From the original questioner:
One thing I am a little worried about though is getting a good connection on the top cabinets.

From contributor J:
I would do all of what Contributor D said except use wood screws. I would suggest using the fine threaded drywall screws they are designed for metal studs. Your pilot holes through the cabinet should be the same as the screw diameter plus a little more.

You only want to screw through the sheetrock and into the metal stud - not the cabinet. Make sure you hold tight against the wall and set your clutch so you don’t strip the hold in the metal. Also, I would glue them with Pl 300 ,400,500, even liquid nails.

From contributor R:
To contributor J: Make sure not to mistake drywall screws with wood screws. They are for hanging drywall. I suspect that you have been using them for some time to hang cabinets, but they haven't been designed for that purpose.

I like the point about using the fine thread screws for attaching to studs, but not a drywall screw. Make sure to use a screw with a shank diameter designed to carry the load of the cabinet and its contents - drywall screws are not. I'm sure Baer Supply and all other fastener companies carry a fine thread wood screw to do the job.

From contributor J:
I don’t use drywall screws. I use cabinet installation screws 2.5" #17 double auger tip. I was using drywall as a generic term.

From contributor M:
I find the most important thing is not to over tighten. I always try to put wood blocking between studs before sheet rocking. It's not always possible however. I ask the contractor to have them put in before the sheetrock and they usually will do it.