I’m often reminded that I should write articles about even the simplest details as what I might take for granted is not so obvious to all readers. If you’re building a new home or remodeling an existing one where cabinet installation is involved then you should pay attention to cabinet blocking. Installing cabinets is MUCH easier when the wall framing contains solid wood blocking. The wood blocking allows you to screw the cabinet “boxes” to the wall easily and it ensure a very secure strong installation.
Standard Blocking Heights
The location of solid wood blocking depends on the type of cabinets that you’re installing. However, there are some fairly basic standard dimensions that will cover most applications. Most base cabinets range in height from 30 inches (bathroom vanities and office desks) to 36 inches (kitchen cabinets). The key is to install the top of the blocking at the top of cabinet or the bottom of blocking at the bottom of cabinet.
We like to use scrap framing lumber for our blocking, obviously it’s a great way to reduce waste and keep material out of the landfill. At a minimum you’ll want to use a 2×6 and preferably a 2×8 or more. Even if you’ve framed the walls with metal studs you can use the same materials for blocking. If there’s a really long run of cabinets you can install a layer of plywood instead of the drywall. I did this in our first home when I remodeled the kitchen and it worked great. I ran a layer of 1/2 inch thick plywood behind the entire length of base cabinets instead of the drywall.
Install Nail Plates
One thing you won’t see in the photo above are nail plates. That’s not because they didn’t get installed, the photo was just taken before the plumbing and electrician had installed them. If you’re going to install wood blocking be sure to include nail plates to cover any plumbing or electrical that might be behind it. Sometimes blocking gives us a false sense of security that could lead to a screw through a pipe or wire!
Other Blocking Locations
Blocking isn’t just important for cabinets. Blocking should be installed in as many locations as possible for things like bathroom accessories (towel bars and paper holders), stair handrails, television support brackets, heavy artwork, chair rails, crown moulding and any other place that you’ll be fastening items to in the future. Installing it while the walls are open will save so much time in the future and it’s cheap and easy to do.