Hanging Cabinets from Masonry Walls

What to do when the wall is cement board on furring strips over concrete block. April 25, 2006

House was built in the 40's by a mason who obviously liked to use his skills. Walls are block construction with interior finished with skim-coat-covered cement board over sheet rock. Cement board/sheetrock combo mounted on 1" furring attached to block. Planning on hanging frameless cabinets. What do you suggest as a method of attachment?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor L:
Use a rail system and hang the cabinets from that. Attach the rail system to the wall with tapcons. Size your tapcons for a minimum penetration of 1" into the block. Hopefully he filled the (hollow) blocks with concrete. If they are solid, you will have no problems. You can check the integrity of your rail system by hanging from them.

From contributor D:
When in doubt... get a big tube of Liquid Nails!

From contributor R:
Tap-cons are a good idea. Also, I've never hung cabinets on cement board, but I would imagine that cement board screws or possibly even drywall screws screwed directly into the cement board might be strong enough. Maybe try screwing a one by to the wall and see what kind of holding power it has.

From contributor C:
The rail system is your best bet, but has complications if the boxes weren't built with that in mind. If I understand right, the rock and board are on 1" furring strips. You could try to locate the strips and screw into them. The combined holding power of the cement board, furring strips, and Liquid Nails could work. Or since there is a 1" gap between the block and cement board, you could try an expanding fastener of some sort. If you could get it to flare out behind the cement board, it would have quite a bit of strength. Whatever you do, if it's not solid mechanical fastening like the rail system, use Liquid Nails.

From contributor F:
I see a couple of recommendations for holding up wall cabinets with adhesives. I wonder if that is up to any kind of building code? I think I would find the furring strips and fasten the cabinets themselves or hanger strips to those.

From contributor S:
I have a similar install issue in which I have to mount kitchen cabinets to a brick wall. The bricks are over 100 years old and are not very hard. Think tapcons would hold?

From contributor D:
I definitely wouldn't rely on adhesives alone, but I would back up any mechanical fastener (in situations like these) with some for sure. I'd say an inspector would love to see some glued up cabinets. Maybe we can start a line of peel and stick cabinetry!?

From contributor A:
Mounting lower cabinets to only the cement board or furring strips should be okay, since the floor is the weight bearing surface, and all you are really doing is using the grip on the wall, be it screws or glue, to position the cabinet. However, I would never trust the furring to hold an upper cabinet. The furring I have seen is only attached to the cement block with concrete nails, and that's not enough to safely hold a run of uppers. Unless you know exactly how the furring is attached and if it can bear the additional weight, I would attach via lead shields or expanding fasteners directly to the cement block.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all the input. As this is a family owned home, I have decided to go with the following - cut out a 4 in swath of existing plaster, etc. at anchor heights, attach a 2x4 to the block via lead anchors and lags. Attach cabinets to 2x4. This should stay up until the house falls down. A little extra work, but it's family.

From contributor U:
Just got done hanging a set of boxes in Manhattan. About an inch of plaster right over brick. What a bugger. We used Tapcons, but had to drill all the holes without a hammer drill. That was tough.