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How to measure for cabinets

March 20, 2012

The cabinets for my basement install arrived yesterday, and I learned (too late!) a valuable lesson:

If you are ordering cabinets for an enclosed space, leave 1-3 inches and order the filler strip.

First, note that each of the cabinets is about 1/8 of an inch larger than the specification (so a 36″ cabinet is actually 36-1/8).  This really complicates things for me, because in some cases I didn’t leave much/any room.

So far:

  • In my built-in entertainment center, I left about half an inch.  This is the least complicated of my installs, and everything seems to fit okay.  Unfortunately I ordered a matching (wood) countertop to match what I thought was the total width of the cabinetry (87″) but the cabinets are actually wider than that.  In hindsight, I should have ordered the countertop to be longer, and cut it to size.  Not the end of the world, though, because I was going to have to install some kind of molding to hide the edges anyway.
  • I left a half inch in the wet bar.  We plan on getting a granite countertop, and the installer asked that I build in a 3/4″ plywood edge to support it over a built-in fridge.  Clearly, I only have room for 1/2″ plywood.  Thankfully the fridge is actually a little less wide than specified (24″) so I think I’ll be able to fit everything that I need to, but it’s going to be very, very tight. 
  • We are installing wall cabinets above the wet bar.  The folks at Lowes said I shouldn’t need a filler strip, but in hindsight I disagree (half an inch is too much to try to fill any other way).  So I have to call Kraftmaid and order one.
  • I already mentioned in an earlier post how I planned poorly for the laundry room — but I thought I should have three spare inches to work with for the base cabinets.   The cabinets are 1/8″ wider than spec, and I need to install two 3/4″ plywood supports (one at the wall and one between the washer and dryer) so I really only have 1.25 inches to work with — which isn’t a lot of breathing room for the washer/dryer.  I can eliminate one of the 3/4″ plywood supports by moving one of the cabinets to the opposite side — but then I have to rip out half the back wall (not a big deal b/c you’ll never see it) and redo the plumbing (not a huge deal, but not ideal as I’m sure it will take the better part of a day for me to do).
  • I did actually order a filler strip for the laundry room wall cabinets so I should be okay there.
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