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Old 02-20-2009, 01:58 PM   #1
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Leveling Kitchen Cabinets for Granite - how level??


Doing a whole hours remodel/update - U shaped kitchen

The past couple days I had a company come in and install new cabinets in my kitchen - they look great and the installers seemed to know what they are doing. They did encounter the concrete slab floor to be falling away from one side of the kitchen to the other - with the cabinets starting on the high side with no shims under them to having 3/4" plus shims on the other side of the kitchen.

Today I have the granite installers from the same company here installing granite countertops. They are having problems with the cabinets being not very level. First they screwed 1/2" plywood to the top of the cabinets. When placing an 8' level across the sink base and the cabinets on either side, one can readily rock the level with maybe 3/8 difference end to end. They are placing several 1"x2" x 1/8" thick shims around under the granite to bring it level.

The question - is this normal and ok to have to shim under the granite like this? My expection was that the cabinets would be quite level with the granite uniformly in contact and supported by the plywood.

thx!
Vince

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Old 02-20-2009, 02:12 PM   #2
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Leveling Kitchen Cabinets for Granite - how level??


Usually they install the cabinets level then after that "here in Michigan "they install the countertop without plywood,shims are often used while installing the granite countertop to make sure it comes up even. You must live somwhere in the west, over there they use the plywood first then install the countertop in top of it. Have a great one

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Old 02-20-2009, 02:19 PM   #3
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Leveling Kitchen Cabinets for Granite - how level??


If they installed the cabinets they should be perfectly level before they install the granite. There's really no excuse for installing new cabinets that are not level. My last kitchen dropped 3" or more on one side & my cabinets were level

I installed a granite hearth
I put enough thinset down to bed the granite & allow it to level out
If the counter isn't level then the granite may crack
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Old 02-20-2009, 03:20 PM   #4
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Leveling Kitchen Cabinets for Granite - how level??


Vince,

That was a poor cabinet installation.
When I install cabinets they are all level....at the same level. If you had counters on either side of the room and an island, you could run a level from any 2 spots in the room and they would be dead on.
That's how you install cabinets.
Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for granite installers to come across cabinets that aren't level. They do the best they can to shim to get the counters nice and level. Not much else they can do. Actually, some installers will charge extra for having to level. That's the cabinet installers job!
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Old 02-20-2009, 04:11 PM   #5
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Leveling Kitchen Cabinets for Granite - how level??


they must be perfectly level in both directions. Otherwise as posted the installer will shim to level. If they do not, the seams will not line up at the top and the edge.
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Old 02-20-2009, 10:02 PM   #6
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Leveling Kitchen Cabinets for Granite - how level??


As they progressed around the kitchen it got even worse - the granite was having to be spaced up to where the plywood was showing under the bullnosed front edge - I questioned it and was told the cabinet installer would come back and put a piece of trim to cover it!

I declared it unacceptable and called a halt. A call to the company office and the cabinet installer was back onsite with an hour. All the base cabinets were properly re-leveled and the granite went on without shims.

Thanks everyone for the excellent and prompt replies - a HUGE help!

Vince

Last edited by vsheetz; 02-20-2009 at 10:07 PM.
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Old 02-20-2009, 10:06 PM   #7
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Leveling Kitchen Cabinets for Granite - how level??


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Originally Posted by detroitMi View Post
Usually they install the cabinets level then after that "here in Michigan "they install the countertop without plywood,shims are often used while installing the granite countertop to make sure it comes up even. You must live somwhere in the west, over there they use the plywood first then install the countertop in top of it. Have a great one

Yup - house is in SoCal, with plywood on top of the cabinets and a bullnosed edge overhanging the front of the cabinets.
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Old 02-20-2009, 11:01 PM   #8
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Leveling Kitchen Cabinets for Granite - how level??


That's great!!
Even if they shimmed it there would have been large areas unsupported

Can you imagine someone sitting up on the counter??
Snap!!
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Old 10-21-2009, 01:47 PM   #9
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Leveling Kitchen Cabinets for Granite - how level??


Sorry to resurect an older thread, but I thought my question would further add to the above discussion...

In levelling the base cabinets in prep for granite, how do you shim up a back corner of a cabinet up against a corner of 2 kitchen walls? I'm finding it almost impossible to get a shim back there. I'm off by less than 1/8" of level front to back and side to side... I want it "perfect" as mentioned above, but I'm about to go crazy and start ripping up the floor.
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Old 10-21-2009, 04:32 PM   #10
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Leveling Kitchen Cabinets for Granite - how level??


As I understand it, you want the cabinet not only level front to back but also level with any adjoining cabinet but you can't get the shims back there with the cabinet in place. Here's what I would do. I would use a two foot level and using shims cut from a scrap 2x4, I would level the floor (prior to installing the cabinet) both front to back and side to side. I would make a bunch of shims from a scrap of 2x4 and increase the the thickness of each shim by 1/16 of an inch starting with the thickness suggested by my initial use of the level. I would make sure that the shims produced a level floor with regard to any adjoining cabinets. If the cabinet was made properly, it should be level once it is placed over the shims since the base is now perfectly level. I would tack the rear shims down so they don't shift during installation. You can fine tune by adding front shims if necessary since the front of the cabinet is accessable. There are probably other ways to accomplish this but this is the way I'd do it.

Last edited by retired guy 60; 10-21-2009 at 04:34 PM.
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Old 10-21-2009, 04:45 PM   #11
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Leveling Kitchen Cabinets for Granite - how level??


pull the cabinet, tack glue a shim on the floor, reset the cabinet, if need be you can also scribe the cabinet that way u dont need shims, HOWEVER be aware if you scribe one most likely you will have to do ALL cause the height of the cabinet will decrease when u scribe the base.
Second and easiest way is to hold cabinet level, push tight against the wall and just screw it into the wall, if there is a gap between cab back and wall then just put shim to fill gap and screw thru it.
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Old 10-21-2009, 05:15 PM   #12
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Leveling Kitchen Cabinets for Granite - how level??


You can always use self levelling compound on the floor, this effectively guarantees a stable, level surface to start with. But realistically, there is no such thing as a perfectly square cabinet, there are always tolerances. Also, the wall behind your cabinet is almost certainly not perfectly plumb, and is likely to "wobble" both vertically and horizontally along the line of cabinets, possibly as much as 1/2 an inch. If you push the cabinets hard up against the wall and screw them to the wall (which you probably want to do in earthquake country), the tops of the cabinets are not going to be perfectly level.

When I had my granite installed on my kitchen cabinets (all of which I built myself), there were gaps of up to 1/4 inch between the granite and parts of the cabinet tops, which was absolutely no problem for the installers, they simply put shims in, and finished the install using silicone sealant. I figured in a 50 year old house, with 20 feet of cabinet, a quarter of an inch wasn't bad.
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Old 03-02-2012, 07:36 PM   #13
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Leveling Kitchen Cabinets for Granite - how level??


If the cabinets aren't fabricated plumb and properly leveled in all directions when installed the cabinet doors and drawers won't align. It throws everything off including the counter top. Using all the proper tools to level is crucial. There is not such thing as level floors and walls, the installer needs to shim cabinets to level them to the existing irregular surfaces. If there are upper cabinets installed at the ceiling and the ceiling is uneven the best way on lower ceiling heights is to correct the ceiling prior to installation. The cost of scrapping the old texture and retexturing isn't that expensive. I have pictures reflecting the out come of cabinets not being properly leveled.

Last edited by mjuncker; 03-02-2012 at 07:45 PM. Reason: adding more and correcting incomplete sentences
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Old 03-02-2012, 07:54 PM   #14
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Leveling Kitchen Cabinets for Granite - how level??


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Originally Posted by mjuncker View Post
If the cabinets aren't fabricated plumb and properly leveled in all directions when installed the cabinet doors and drawers won't align. It throws everything off including the counter top. Using all the proper tools to level is crucial. There is not such thing as level floors and walls, the installer needs to shim cabinets to level them to the existing irregular surfaces. If there are upper cabinets installed at the ceiling and the ceiling is uneven the best way on lower ceiling heights is to correct the ceiling prior to installation. The cost of scrapping the old texture and retexturing isn't that expensive. I have pictures reflecting the out come of cabinets not being properly leveled.
You DO realize this thread is 3 years old, right?

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Old 01-19-2014, 09:03 AM   #15
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Leveling Kitchen Cabinets for Granite - how level??


I level cabinets for a living as a specialty, having done this over 1500 times. No one seems to be doing it quite the way I do. Average time per kitchen is 6 hours to remove old tops and level cabinets. I use a 360 degree line laser (costs about $450.) which paints a bright, perfectly level line around the entire kitchen at an arbitrary height. Using a stick and a pencil i quickly find the highest point of the exposed cabinets. I use a digital caliper ($30.at home depot) on which I have drawn a line on the moveable jaw. Placing the caliper upside down (jaws on the wood) I move the caliper up and down until my line meets the laser line. Now I press the zero button on the caliper. The established highest point now becomes zero on my caliper.
So now anywhere else I place the caliper and adjust the two lines to meet, I will get a measurement in millimeters - to the 100th place. This measurement is how much wood (shim) needed to bring this spot even with the establish high spot. I repeat this until I have a thickness measurement at each end of each cabinet rail (bearing surface).
I make a plan view drawing of the cabinets similar to any architects site plan which has a benchmark (the high point) and elevations (thickness measurements), and rail lengths.
From this plan, I fabricate a series of tapers (continuous shims, no gaps) to place on the cabinets after which all cabinets are level with the high spot, perfectly flat every time no matter how large the kitchen. Tapers are stained to match the existing finish.
Other strategies I have seen on this site are from the stone age and rather stupid including: adding adjustable feet, adding plywood, leapfrogging with a 4 foot level, worst of all, resetting cabinets. New granite has never ever cracked after my work. Any response appreciated, thanks, Steve

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