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Old 01-29-2009, 11:55 AM   #1
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Installing Cabinets In Un-level Kitchen


I've been renovating a 1905 farmhouse and am nearing completion. Unfortunately the house, while very square and plumb, is less than level. one corner appears to have sunk almost 2 inches. I suspect that, since the walls are plumb, the basement wasn't poured level. Anyhow, as I've been renovating I've tried my best to compensate for the out of level floor, but am somewhat stumped now that I'm nearly ready to hang the cabinets. My kitchen slopes almost an inch to one corner, so if I hang my wall cabinets level it will be very noticeable. My cabinets are left 8" from the ceiling and I was hoping not to use a crown along the top. Do I cheat the base cabinets a little bit out of level, and cheat the wall cabinets just a little more? Or do I just hang them level and hope nobody notices? I'm worried that it will be very glaring if I hang them dead level. Both my drywaller and painter have said they've worked on new homes that were out that much, but neither had any suggestions. Help!

And before it gets mentioned, I'm not willing to jack up the low corner! If the house was on pilings I would, but it's on a basement so I've counted that out.

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Old 01-29-2009, 12:31 PM   #2
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Installing Cabinets In Un-level Kitchen


Countertops will be going on the bottom cabinets, right? If so it would be pretty annoying if the countertops weren't dead level. I realize you can shim the countertop when it is installed and you can shim the cabinets as they are installed. What material are you using for the countertops?

What about raising the location of the upper cabinets so crown would be an option. You could easily cover a 3" gap with crown (of course in your case it's be 3" on one end and 2" on the other).

I don't think the bottom cabinets will drawn any attention to the issue, but I agree the top ones could. I'd rather someone notice and say wow your floor and ceiling are really out of level than them say wow your floor and ceiling are really out of level and your cabinets are crooked, who did the work, they should be shot.....

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Old 01-29-2009, 12:50 PM   #3
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Installing Cabinets In Un-level Kitchen


Same year my last house, I had a ~4" drop
I leveled the cabinets, floor was off
I had a cathedral ceiling so the cabinets did not butt up against the ceiling. No matter what you do you will have something that will be off. Cabinets need to be level IMO
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Old 01-29-2009, 01:00 PM   #4
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Installing Cabinets In Un-level Kitchen


I agree, it seems almost sacrilege to install new cabinets out of level, I'll have to find a way to hide the discrepancy. I really don't want to put crown on top of my cabinets, they're shaker style (sort of) and crown would look silly. I was reading a post on woodweb on this topic, it seemed hotly debated.

Last edited by whiskeykid; 01-29-2009 at 01:02 PM.
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Old 01-29-2009, 01:56 PM   #5
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Installing Cabinets In Un-level Kitchen


My ceiling was off level also! Not as much as yours! here's how I resolved mine!
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Old 01-29-2009, 01:56 PM   #6
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Installing Cabinets In Un-level Kitchen


Absolutely do not even attempt to set the base cabinets out of level. You'll create all sorts of alignment problems with your cabinet doors and drawers. Start at the highest point of your floor, and work level from there. If you install out-of level base cabinets, you will probably end up with your countertop out of level too (although you CAN hide some problems there with molding between the base units and the bottom of the countertop). But all this is Mickey Mouse. Do it right, and the variance you make up down at the floor, up under the toe kick, will hardly be noticeable.
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Old 01-29-2009, 02:52 PM   #7
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Installing Cabinets In Un-level Kitchen


If you were planning on putting something on top of the cabinets, like say a beer bottle collection or some fake ivy, or some other crap that would block the view of where the wall the cabinets are hung on meets the ceiling, no one will notice.
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Old 01-29-2009, 03:39 PM   #8
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Installing Cabinets In Un-level Kitchen


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like say a beer bottle collection or some fake ivy, or some other crap
Sounds nice!
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Old 01-29-2009, 03:57 PM   #9
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Installing Cabinets In Un-level Kitchen


Not sure how much room you have to hang the uppers, but could you frame a tapered soffit down a couple inches to compensate for the ceiling? I'd hang the cabinets perfectly level and install a piece of material vertically on top of the to scribe to the profile of the ceiling.

The base cabinets should be level as well.

If the cabinets are not level, it will absolutely show in the backsplash reveal...I'd rather see it at the ceiling.
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Old 01-29-2009, 10:06 PM   #10
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Installing Cabinets In Un-level Kitchen


JMTCW (just my two cents worth) I once did a kitchen in a house that had a floor that dropped 3/4" of an inch over 7' with a ceiling that climbed 7/8" over the same span, making over 1 1/2" difference in such a short distance. Normally, you can hide some of this with crown molding or the space above the cabinet, but to add more fun to the combo, the ceiling was only 83" to begin with! The only solution was to shim the base cabinets to make them level, and to cut a 6 foot shim for the top cabinets that went from 7/8" to 0" over 6 feet(there was a corner space of 12" to accomodate window) The human eye detects level more than one might think, and to do it improperly will be picked up by somebody. The house in question had had many problems (a fire, a flood, and wayyyy too many additions). But making it right, or more accurately, CLOSE to right, was my job. Between the architect not having direct knowledge of the job and the previous subs not following the architects vision, it was definitely a challenge, but a fun challenge at that. My girlfriend was very instrumental in helping me out( her head came in handy while hanging the cabinets! OUCH!!,, just got a sharp poke in the ribs for that one since she is sitting here next to me)
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Old 01-29-2009, 11:26 PM   #11
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Installing Cabinets In Un-level Kitchen


Wow I thought I was the only one with a sloping old house...

I guess I'll just repeat what everyone else said. You want your cabinets and countertops to be true level, otherwise your eggs will roll right off the counter in the morning

I shimmed my bottoms all level to the highest point, and put some black vinyl cove base/quarter round as the kick board, that hid the bottom 1" gap or so.

The wall cabinets are all then level too of course. I've never bothered to measure them in relationship to the ceiling, I'm sure mine's off but you'd never notice.

In retrospect, I need to shim my stove level, you'd never know until you're frying something in oil and only half the pan is cooking since all the oil drifts to the side!
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Old 01-29-2009, 11:28 PM   #12
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Installing Cabinets In Un-level Kitchen


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Originally Posted by wrangler View Post
My girlfriend was very instrumental in helping me out( her head came in handy while hanging the cabinets! OUCH
my wife's too short to be of much help, we just screwed a 1x level to the wall and rested the cabinets on it,
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Old 01-30-2009, 06:25 AM   #13
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Installing Cabinets In Un-level Kitchen


I love working on old homes, they present many challenges to anyone's profession. it all boils down to, how to you fix the problem.
when I come into the house for the first time and meet with the owners, I point out to them all the problems that will arise from there initial project.
The above posters are correct, You must install all the cabinets plumb and level which in return means ordering wider side skins for the base and wall cabinets if the walls are not plumb. wider toe kick panels to fit the floor gaps, and furring & leveling out the ceiling. Floors are mainly leveled out with a ceramic tile mud job. or by ripping up and furring the joists and then installing your finish. But there are other things to contend with, is there a window on the counter wall, Is it original? is it level? this will be picked up when the base cabinets are installed, You will need to reset that window.
This is where the term comes into play, you have opened a can of worms!. but anything can be done, it all depends on how deep your pocekt$ are. and the knowledge you have to proceed.
Bottom line. if the ceiling is going to bother you, and your looking for perfection then explore the option on furring it down and rocking it.
could you post some photos of your room in question, I would love to see what your up against. BOB.
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:06 AM   #14
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Installing Cabinets In Un-level Kitchen


Thanks for all the suggestions. I should be into the installation this weekend, maybe I'll post some pictures.
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Old 01-31-2009, 07:43 AM   #15
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Installing Cabinets In Un-level Kitchen


Here are some examples of what I did. The first one, where the book case is on the far end, the floor runs down about 2 inches in the corner. So when we built it, we cut the side bulheads of the bookcase at angles to keep the top, which is a bartop, level. The other is definitely where you could run into problems, we did a little wine area in the same kitchen and because the floor sloped so much there wasn't much we could do except run a small top style to kind of hide the funky gap.
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