Installing new cabinets can transform the look and utility of your kitchen. When it comes to cabinet installation, one key decision is whether to mount the base cabinets directly to the wall or have them sit on top of the floor. RTA (ready-to-assemble) base cabinets give you both options. Here is an overview of mounting RTA base cabinets to help you determine if it’s the right choice for your kitchen remodel.
What Are RTA Base Cabinets?
RTA cabinets are sold unassembled in flat boxes, hence the name “ready-to-assemble.” They come with all the parts and hardware needed to put them together yourself. RTA cabinets are typically made from materials like particle board, MDF, and plywood.
The term “base cabinets” refers specifically to the cabinets installed along the floor in the kitchen. Base cabinets include elements like drawer bases, door bases, and lazy susans. They provide storage and support for countertops.
Pros and Cons of Mounting RTA Base Cabinets to the Wall
There are a few key advantages and disadvantages to mounting RTA base cabinets directly to the wall:
- More accessible floor space: Mounting base cabinets to the wall raises them several inches off the floor, leaving more usable space underneath. This makes cleaning easier.
- Easier to install: Wall cabinets have a simple installation process. You screw through the cabinet back or nail into the wall studs. Floated cabinets require precise measurements.
- Versatile placement: Mounted cabinets offer flexibility in positioning. You can place them anywhere along the wall as long as they hit studs.
- Reconfigurable layout: It’s easier to relocate wall-mounted cabinets if you later change the kitchen design. They don’t leave permanent marks on the floor.
- Higher cost: Wall cabinets require additional materials to construct the mounting frame and braces. This adds cost compared to floor-mounted cabinets.
- Weight limitations: Walls have load-bearing limits. Heavy contents in wall-mounted cabinets may require added structural reinforcement.
- Difficult to align: Precisely aligning multiple mounted base cabinets takes more time and effort than floating. Minor inconsistencies are more obvious.
- Vulnerable to damage: Kicked or bumped wall cabinets are more prone to shifting out of position or detaching from the wall.
Best Practices for Mounting RTA Base Cabinets
If you decide to mount your RTA base cabinets directly to the wall, follow these tips for proper installation:
- Use a level to mark perfectly straight mounting lines on the wall.
- Locate and use wall studs to provide sturdy attachment points.
- Consider adding plywood backing to reinforce the wall anchoring.
- Attach mounting rails vertically to give the entire cabinet a secure base.
- Use at least 3-4 screws per cabinet to attach to the wall through the cabinet back.
- Drill pilot holes in cabinet backs to prevent splitting wood when screwing in.
- Position mounted cabinets by securing them to adjacent cabinets.
- Place filler strips or panels between separate mounted base units to hide gaps.
- Caulk along the wall and bottom of mounted cabinets for a seamless finish.
Floor-Mounted vs Wall-Mounted Base Cabinets
The main alternative to mounting RTA base cabinets directly to the wall is installing them on top of the floor. Here’s an overview of how the two approaches compare:
- Floor-mounted:Cabinets sit flush on the floor, anchored to each other through the sides. The front is typically covered with a kickplate. This is a slightly easier DIY option.
- Wall-mounted: Cabinets are fastened securely to the wall through the back panel and are raised off the floor. The underneath space is more accessible for cleaning.
- Installation: Wall mounting is best done during new construction or remodels when the wall is exposed. Floor mounting can be done as a DIY project later on.
- Mobility: Floor cabinets are fixed permanently in place. Wall cabinets can be shifted lateral to alter layouts. They can also be lowered or removed completely with minimal patching.
- Alignment: Floating cabinets self-align when fastened together. Mounted cabinets require precise measurement and installation to appear straight.
- Accessories: Wall cabinets allow for extra storage with under-cabinet items like wine glass racks. Floor cabinets take more customization to add functional extras underneath.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should all base cabinets be mounted to the wall?
It’s not essential to mount every base cabinet. Many kitchen designs combine some wall-attached and some floor-anchored base cabinets. Just be sure wall cabinets are securely fixed to studs and floor cabinets are joined tightly together.
How much weight can wall-mounted cabinets support?
Most kitchen walls can safely support 50-75 lbs per linear foot with the proper mounting. Add cross-bracing or plywood backing if concerned. Stick to lighter items; avoid storing all pots and pans in a single wall-mounted cabinet.
What’s the best height to install wall-mounted base cabinets?
Standard installation height is 34-1/2 inches from the floor to the bottom of the wall cabinet. Sink base cabinets are slightly taller at 36 inches. Make sure any appliances below, like the dishwasher or fridge, have enough clearance.
Should I mount RTA cabinets directly over drywall?
It’s better to locate and attach into wall studs where possible for strength. If not, make sure to use hollow drywall anchors and cross-bracing. Alternatively, add plywood or 2×4 blocking behind the drywall first to screws into wood studs.
How do I ensure wall cabinets are perfectly level?
Use a 4-foot level and laser line to mark the wall at the exact planned height. Measure from this line up to cabinet bottom to transfer marks. Place shims under cabinets to level side-to-side. Recheck with the level after securing to the wall.
Mounting RTA base cabinets directly to kitchen walls takes more skill and effort than floor-mounted installation but offers a cleaner, more customizable look. Securely mounting into studs and coordinating all measurements is crucial to prevent issues down the road. Pre-drilling and using corner braces or rails for reinforcement also helps strengthen connections. Combining some wall and some floor cabinets gives the versatility to design your ideal kitchen layout. With proper planning and care taken during installation, mounted RTA base cabinets can provide both form and function.