Leg Leveler Tips And Tricks

First-timer gets advice on installing and adjusting leg levelers. April 10, 2005

I am starting on an entertainment center tomorrow that will require me to use leg levelers. I have never used them and would like to know the pros and cons. The reason I am using them is the basement floor where the base units will be installed has a 1 to 1-1/2" hump in the 25" depth of the cabinet where a drain line runs under the concrete. The levelers were the only thing that makes sense to use given the extreme rise in the floor. Building a 2x base is an option, but even that seems like it would be an unusual amount of extra work to get the time leveled. Fortunately the run length shouldn't be a problem, only the width. There is no need for a toe kick. I have considered using fin construction with 3/4" material and bracing installed from front to rear but it seems like the cabinet wouldn't get the true amount of support it needs. Suggestions are appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
I would build a pressure treated foundation for your entertainment center, shim with pressure treated shims where needed, then apply a vapor barrier before installing your most valuable addition to a damp environment.

From the original questioner:
I had considered the pressure treated base before, but had not thought about the vapor barrier. The client has recently laid new carpet which stops af the front of the entertainment center, and there will be a piece of base molding applied to the lower case when trimmed in. I'll be stopping by there later today to look at the situation again, and will consider the vapor barrier. I may let the client make that decision.

From contributor B:
One big plus about leg levelers is the fact that if you ever got water on the floor, (and what basement isn't just waiting for that to happen one day?) they don't absorb water and rot or mold away. If you got over 4" of water in a basement, you’d have to kiss everything down there goodbye anyway.

Pressure treated won't rot (as long as all cut ends are re-treated) but it will take on water if it isn't saturated when you buy it. And it will transmit that water to the cabinet. If there are clip-on toe kicks or attached end panels, they can be unscrewed and re-made without re-doing the entire cabinet if they are damaged.

Four legs will support 800#. Make sure the sockets are under the cab sides to support the downward loads. Wide cabinets should have additional legs mid-span to prevent sag. A vapor barrier is a good idea. It's just a heavy sheet of visqueen laid on the floor before the cabinet is set on it.

From contributor C:
I would also apply some sort of waterproofing finish to the bottom of the cabinet. A simple trick to test the moisture content in the concrete is take a 3 x4 foot piece of plastic, lay it on the concrete and tape the edges down, and come back in a couple of days. On a dry floor you will see no change. A moist or darkened floor means of course moisture, i.e. trouble.

From contributor D:
Leg levelers are the way to go in a damp environment. Pressure treated will take on water and swell, but also as wet as pressure treated is, what happens when it dries out?

From contributor E:
I install cabinets and have been told that it is not acceptable and possibly illegal to use pressure treated lumber within living space. With all the recent changes forced on the lumber treating business due to the harmful chemicals, this indicates that it would not be morally correct to use any treated lumber within the living space. I use leg levelers and think they are very user friendly in any situation, especially the circumstances you are describing.

From contributor F:
I'm just finishing up my first leg leveler application and I really like them. In my case I had a 13 foot floor to ceiling entertainment center. The floor was only off 1/2 end to end but had bumps in it. I just nailed a 2 x 4 to the wall for the back so I would have a reference level and then just adjusted the front levelers to level. I didn't want a set back toe kick and even though I bought the clip-on toe kick for the Blum levelers I thought they wouldn't be strong enough to keep a toe kick firmly attached and so didn't use them. I ended up just attaching offcut plywood nailing strips at 90 degrees to the edge 3-3/4 tall so they sat off the floor 1/4 or so. I used kreg pocket screws. I installed the toe kick 1/16 back from the cabinet edge and just shot through it with a finish nail to the nailing strip. I left the toe kick 3/8 off the floor so the carpet could be shoved underneath. Worked like a charm.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the help guys. To contributor F: Your application is exactly what I am facing, and looks like a perfect solution. I have a laser line I use instead of a 2 x 4. Less invasive when the home owner sees me nailing something they didn't expect to the wall.

I gave some thought to the vapor barrier, and actually think it would cause more problems that it would solve. With the barrier, you will get moisture buildup under the barrier, but then where does it go - either up the wall behind the unit, or into the carpet in front of it. If I use the levelers, there is more room for air movement under the unit. I am using eight 1-1/2" black eve vents (The small round plastic louvered vents used in soffits and end gable walls) to allow for air movement under the piece, and made the cabinet 1" shallow to the rear with a spaces left to allow air to move behind it. This should help prevent moisture build up.