Out-of-Whack Floor Cabinet Installation Choices

Cabinet installers discuss leg levelers and other methods of installing base cabinets when floor levels vary. December 27, 2008

I am in the middle of installing cabinets in an out of whack floor. I am currently using ladder boxes for toe kicks. I start with the high spot and level to that. Problem starts at the dishwasher opening. I have a cabinet to the left of the dishwasher and a run to the right. Floor is off close to an inch roughly. Now the cabinet to the left I have to either shim that much, or build another toe kick 1/2" taller. For this reason I am considering using levelers. I have used levelers once in the past and found it to be a pain when using 4 levelers, but have read posts here where people use the levelers just for the front and a ledger on the back. This seems simple and I have leveling side to side and front to back. Are the levelers a better way to go? Also, do the levelers make the toe kicks sound hollow? With the clips for the levelers, does this make them harder to install?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor C:
We use legs exclusively, and started using screw-ons, doing them in front, with screwed-on wall cleats in back. Maybe we are hacks, but we could not get the precision we wanted with the wall cleats. We switched to using legs in back as well.

Ours are Camars, bought in bulk from True32, and the attachment to deck is via the press-fit 15mm dia tenon. Two quick whacks with a deadblow mallet, and the leg skids are in. The 15mm holes are cut at the CNC.

We have taken to doing leg arrays as two in front, and only one in back, centered. Much easier to set and adjust a three-legged cab than one with four or more. We feel that the big hanger screws we use to fix the basecabs to the wall blocking or studs provide plenty of support in back.

As for clipping on toekicks, in our opinion, there is no faster or better way. A clipped-on toeboard, bearing on the leg and skid flanges, feels as substantial as the cab fronts above.

Hollow sound? Who in the world is down on the floor knocking and objecting? Who is doing kick tests as a means of judging quality? If your customers are, please don't send any of them our way!

From contributor W:
The more out of whack the floor, the better leg levelers are. Two in front, cleat in back is a really good way to cut down on the froggin around.

"I have used levelers once in the past and found it to be a pain."

When was the last time you tried something new for the first time and were able to it as fast as you could 20 tries later? Good gawd, man, give 'em a chance - you'll soon find that when things are seriously out of level, you never consider anything but levelers.

From contributor S:
I used levelers since they came out, because of the ease of work. I sometimes did installs by myself and found it easier to put a cabinet in place and leave it there. No removing to add a shim here or there. You also don't have to worry about cutting around plumbing or electrical, and if a leg ends up in the wrong place, you just move it. If a client ever wants to change the flooring in the kitchen, you just remove the kicks, run flooring under, and reinstall or make new ones shorter.

From contributor J:
I am also a big fan of the leg levelers. I currently use the Blum levelers. These have a nice wide adjustability range from about 3 3/4" to about 5 3/4". I drill 10mm holes through the bottoms for attachment with one heavy hollow screw. You can adjust these from the inside of the cabinet if you prefer with a long thin flat bladed screwdriver so you don't need to crawl on the floor to adjust them.

My customers like the fact that they can remove the toe-kick plates if they need to have access under their cabinets. They also like the fact that if they have a minor flood from the dishwasher, their cabinets will likely be above the water and won't get damaged.

From contributor R:
I learned to love plastic legs while working in the Caribbean. Fast and easy to level, much easier to use on tile floors, and if minor flooding occurs (as is somewhat common in the islands) the kicks can be replaced much easier than any other style.

The toe kick clips that come with the legs are pretty useless, especially for multi-cabinet runs. I screw a narrow cleat along the bottom of the cabinet and use speaker clips to attach the kicks to the cabinets.

The other nice feature of removable toe kicks is the ability to access wires and plumbing that you might need to.

From contributor M:
We like the cleat on the wall and levelers on the front only. Works great, is fast, and saves half the cost on the levelers. We use Camars with the 15mm hole. We do our wall cabinets with a French cleat also. We go in and set the cleats first thing and then the boxes just set in place. As far as the kick goes, we use 18mm and it works fine. I have tried every way of doing this and for us, this works the best.

From contributor D:
Concerning toekick boards, I've been using Blum levelers for several years. The main complaint I've heard from customers is that they don't stay clipped on, or should I say they are too easily bumped off. Is this true of other brands? I use the clips on every riser available. This being said, I would never go back to the old way. Not after the last kitchen where there was a 2" drop in the floor (old house).