One of the most essential aspects of kitchen cabinet installation is blocking. What is blocking, you ask? It is a way to make life a lot easier when it comes time to hang cabinets, shelves or even a heavy piece of artwork.
Blocking is a process that is done during the building process or when renovating because studs need to be exposed in order to install blocks. The builder or DIYer installs 2×4 or preferably 2×6 pieces of lumber in between studs wherever cabinets or other fixtures will be installed. The wood is generally leftovers, the small cut-off ends from larger pieces used in the project, and when installed properly, they give you a solid surface to hang heavier items.
How Does Cabinet Blocking Make it Easier to Hang Cabinets?
If you’ve ever tried to hang something up on a wall, like a picture frame or a small shelf, then you’ve probably spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out where the studs are so that you can put your nail or screw into solid lumber and not just drywall. Sometimes you can use a stud finder to locate studs but other times you have to resort to drilling holes in the wall until you find a stud. As you know, a screw or nail fastened to drywall alone and not a stud behind the drywall will just come loose as soon as you hang something heavy on it.
If your walls have blocking, that means that you can put away your stud finder and stop drilling holes in the drywall. If you installed the blocks yourself, you should know how far from the floor and ceiling they are – or your builder will inform you of their location. You can mark out the location of the blocking on the walls and then drive nails or screws into the blocks without spending extra time (and causing extra damage) hunting for studs that can support the weight of cabinetry.
Blocking isn’t just for upper cabinets. Base cabinets can benefit from blocking, too. In fact, no matter what room you happen to be remodeling, it is always a good idea to install blocking in likely spots, such as areas where you might hang photos, shelving, a TV mount or other heavy objects.
Blocking Tips and Tricks to Make Cabinet Installation Easy
Blocking sounds simple – and really, it is! But there are still a few things you’ll need to know to make life easier.
- Bigger is better! Wider blocking, made with 2×6 lumber or larger, gives you more room for fasteners and lessens the likelihood that you’ll accidentally drill above or below the blocks during cabinet installation.
- Use solid wood, not plywood (and not metal, even if your house features metal studs) to make the blocks. Scrap wood leftover from a framing project works beautifully because it is sturdy and doesn’t require specialized drill bits or tools to cut, hang or drill into.
- Don’t skip nail plates. These are metal plates specially designed to fasten to the front of blocking wherever there is plumbing or wiring. They are meant to keep you from accidentally driving a nail or screw into a wire or pipe.
- Install blocking before you insulate. If you are planning something other than roll or sheet insulation (like sprayed foam or loose-fill cellulose), it will be easier to work around the blocks rather than removing insulation in order to install the blocks.
Cabinet blocking really does make it easier to hang your cabinets. Even better, it ensures that your new cabinets are rock solid, capable of holding your dishes, kitchen gadgets and more without loosening or pulling away from the wall.