This post was originally published on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade in March 2015.
Would you have guessed that these metal cabinets were removed from an old kitchen and found in a salvage shop? I’m so glad I saw some potential in them, and took the time to refinish the metal surface. Forever they will live in my entryway!
Installing floating cabinets is easy to do by yourself, but you’ll want to create a framework on which to level your floating cabinets at the desired height.
Start by planning how high on the wall the cabinets should be mounted. These particular cabinets are 24″ tall, and I had 8″ of baseboard heating to clear to achieve a flush floating install. That said, they were automatically going to be installed at 32″, so I decided to raise it an extra 0.5″ so that there was a little clearance between the heater and the base of the cabinet on the wall. You can’t really tell by the angle of the above photo, but there is a small space.
I made a sturdy frame out of scrap 4×4 and a 2×8, so that the cabinets could balance at the correct height, and I could keep them level.
Once the cabinets are centered where you want them to be, open your cabinet doors to find holes were they had been previously hung. Mark with a pencil or marker to transfer the location of those holes onto the wall.
Drill first with a tiny bit to see if you hit any studs – if you’re lucky enough to align with wall studs, screw through the cabinet directly to that stud and call it a day. Odds are though, with 4 holes in each cabinet, you’re going to end up popping through the drywall into open air. To secure the floating cabinet without mounting into studs, you’re going to want to use toggle bolts. (Side note: If you’re curious about that wallpaper, you can learn more about it and get a tutorial on installing vinyl adhesive wallpaper here.)
Toggle bolts are the ultimate in bolts; at least, I’m a huge fan. I use them a lot when it comes to installing heavy items because they’re very strong, easy to install, and affordable too. The nut that threads onto the bolt is actually, as the name suggests, a toggle mechanism that expands once pushed behind the wall, and bites into the backside of the drywall, locking in place when the bolt is tightened.
Each of my cabinets required four toggle bolts, which I calculated as being able able to hold up to 200+ pounds – very extreme.
All four bolts should be threaded at the same time, so when you align your cabinet on the base wood frame, you can align and push all four bolts into their respective holes in the drywall. Go slowly, it’ll all work out.
Once the toggles are folded and inserted into the drywall, “pop” them all the way through. If you pull on them from the inside of the cabinet, you won’t be able to extract them back through the hole, because they’ve unfolded.
To tighten a toggle bolt, it’s easiest to create some tension by pulling outwards on the end of the bolt as you tighten. The spinning bolt will tighten against the toggle inside the wall. Tighten each bolt 90% of the way, and check to make sure your cabinet is still level on the wall. This is a good chance to make adjustments, because the loose bolts will still have a little play if you need to raise one side of the cabinet to level it.
Tighten them completely one at a time (still watching level) until the cabinet is secured at the back by the four bolts.
- Don’t over tighten, because you might just bust the whole toggle back out through the drywall.
- Consider using washers between the head of the bolt, and the inside of the cabinet; in hindsight, I should have done this so that the bolt had something extra to tighten against, not just against the back of the cabinet, which as soft metals do, did dimple.
Do the same thing with the other side, continuing to work slowly to make sure the cabinets are both level and attached very closely to one another to limit the gap space between cabinets.
If you have a small gap, drill through the inside of the metal frame and bolt the front edge together in a few places to cinch the connection, and correct any unevenness between the cabinets.
Finish up the job by installing custom leather door pulls, find a custom top to unite the two cabinets from above, and enjoy your new storage potential.