Hanging Cabinets from the Ceiling

No walls to attach to, and no backs on the cabinet — here are a few suggestions for securely mounting these custom cabs. March 25, 2007

I have a kitchen to build that has a row of wall cabinets that is to be hung from the top only, no side or back walls to mount to. Front and back have frame and glass doors. 20' run in U-shaped layout. Boxes are 18" tall X 14" deep, panel construction with 5/8" PB. What is the best method for building and hanging these boxes, taking into account that there is no back, FF, stretcher, or wall to support and carry the live and dead loads?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Fourm)
From contributor J:
My first thought, no PB. Second thought, no PB! Use 3/4 ply, run full length tops and bottoms, dado, glue, pocket screw tops, sexscrew units together. Other than this, I would need more info to get more specific.

From contributor B:
I'd run allthread through the boxes with a nut and washer under the top and a nut and washer under the bottom. Go up through the sheetrock and lay a 2X across the ceiling joists and double nut it with a washer. You'll have to hide the allthread somehow so it won't be seen through the glass doors. You could probably get by with T-nuts set into the bottom, but I'd use a real nut and washer under the top. And… no PB at all! You don't need to hang any extra weight - especially with something that has absolutely no strength at all!

From contributor J:
Good catch - I didn't pay attention to "how to hang." Here is a thought of how to hide, maybe? Double sides, add a skin inside, build as needed to install threaded rod without going through bottom, double wall it, rod through top not seen anyway.

From contributor B:
Assuming that everything were solid face frames and you used good 3/4" ply top and bottom glued and clamped really well, you could hang it from just the top. I like the skin idea, but I think I might use T-nuts in the bottom with a nut under the top, and then put a 1/4" skin under the bottom to hide the T-nuts. What about that?

From contributor P:
I've got this same predicament in my house. (My wife has been after me to replace our kitchen, and I've managed to avoid this by saying the shop's too busy.) The present builder-installed cabinets are simply screwed through the top into the 2x4's. They've been there for about twenty years. It makes me nervous, though, to hang my stuff like that. I've thought up several solutions, from using threaded rod secured in the joists above and down through the bottom of the cabinets to adding an oak furring strip to screw to. (I do like the threaded rod. My way of hiding it is simply to sleeve it in either a copper or stainless pipe, and make it part of the design.)

What I think I'll do is add some white oak pieces above the bottom of the wall and use this to bolt a panel of 3/4" Baltic birch to. Then I'll bolt the cabinets through the top to this plywood. Overkill? Yeah. I've seen no signs that the original installation is in the least bit faulty, and my wife can load up a cabinet. But I'll sleep better I think.

From contributor P:
I did have another thought on my personal cabinets, but the wife wouldn't go for it. I was going to have a stainless steel frame welded up with sliding glass doors. I was then going to fashion some large hooks which would hang over the joists in the attic. A few conduit clamps to keep it in place and I think it would have been pretty neat. Plus, she could stuff every Rachael Ray endorsed kitchen gadget in there she wanted and I wouldn't live in fear of a late night crashing sound.

From contributor M:
We have had to do this several times. All the threaded rods and special fasteners are overkill. We use an extra wide rail to accommodate for the crown. 3/4 ply roof pocket screwed and glued to the face frame all the way around (screws about six inches apart) and we simply screwed it to the ceiling joists with 3 inch washer head screws. Where the cabinet turned and fell into a bay, we had the contractor scab 2x8s flat in that bay to give us something to screw to. Me and my buddy both did chin-ups on it at the same time in front of the customer to show him it was strong. By the way, I weigh 260 and he goes 285.

From contributor T:
It might also be possible to make the end panels taller and cut slots through the ceiling and attach to ceiling joists. Inside panels could also attach this way. May have to add material to ceiling joists, as I'm sure that they wouldn't line up exactly - just a thought.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor E:
Timberlock brand screws with washers would work great for lagging the cabinets to the ceiling through two or three inch top rails.