2x4 Base Under Base Cabinets

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Constructing ladder bases. December 26, 2004

Do any of you use 2x4 bases/legs under base cabinets? Level the base, then attach the cabinets and add a toe kick?

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Yes, we call them ladder bases. Sometimes we use plywood, sometimes 3/4 melamine. Never have used 2x4, but suppose you could, depending on your height requirement. Level it, shim, screw to wall. Easier in some situations than leveling the boxes.

Been doing ladder bases for some time now. I've tried legs, 1-piece cabinets, etc. and in my opinion, a level ladder base is the way to go. I use 3/4" ply for wall mounted bases, and 2 x 4 bases for some islands. I screw 3 1/2" square blocks to the inside of the base to the floor, leveling front base as I go. 1/4" finished toe skins (pre-cut in shop) go on last, to the floor. Skins are ripped 1/16" short, but bottom FF rail reveal hides it.

We use the ladder system as well. Works great on a long run of cabs. We cut out heels on the ladders so you only have contact in areas directly under partitions. On a long run, you get kick level, which is easier on a small 4" high piece with open back (opposed to box reaching under to adjust legs or shim), then just start dropping on your boxes and screw together. I have heard of people using CDX for the ladders in bathrooms and kitchens. Not a bad idea, although how practical I'm not sure. If you have water damage, the cabinet itself would probably have to be redone in addition to the kick box (ladder).

I typically use "ladder bases" as well. I use melamine, MDF, or plywood. I wouldn't use 2x4's if you are talking about Doug fir. There is too much shrinkage if you use green Doug fir, and you will end up with settling problems. Try a more stable material.

Plywood = good. 2X4 = okay. MDF or particleboard = risk if there is a sink or other water use in the run.

The ladder base does provide a level on which to install cabinets. Legs or levelers have advantages, but it's almost a different discussion.