Leveling Cabinets Runs Containing Appliances

Cabinet installers consider the problems involved when floors slope and there are ranges and dishwashers involved. July 10, 2009

What are your thoughts on leveling base cabs? I have been doing quite a few kitchens in some historic looking houses that are over a hundred years old and the floors are pretty bad. Do you guys have any problems leveling a base run because of dishwasher clearance and stove height? If you level the cabinets where the stove is the countertop is too high, can't cut the bottom off the base where the dish washer is because the dish washer won't fit underneath the top? Some of these that I have done, the floors have been out as much as 4'' over a 10' length. I have made it a point to tell these customers that leveling might be a problem, and so far they have understood when it has been. Understand that I'm not talking about having to trim and scribe, that part is easy, just the stove to countertop height difference and the dish washer clearance.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor B:
Try making a reference level line on the walls using a laser level (make this line a couple of inches higher than the finished counter height). Now find where the floor is highest (closest to this line) at this location make a mark the required height (for 34 1/2"). Reset the laser level to this new mark and draw a level line on the wall. This will be the working level line to set your cabinets to.

From contributor G:
In older homes where everything is out, plumb, level, square and not a thing is straight, the best way around it is to use short runs with countertops on each section. That way if you have a 4" drop in the kitchen from side to side you only worry about it in 3-5' sections. Each of these can be leveled pretty easily and the height requirements of the appliances can be conformed to. The hardest part is selling it. Most want a traditional looking kitchen and the staggered countertops really do look that way. Throwing in a 30-32" high section for "working/rolling dough" is a good way to break up the cabinets and allow for leveling a large lean.

From contributor B:
If you are the cabinetmaker as well, you could build a box for the appliance to sit on to get it up to countertop height. I just did an install in a new house where the floor ran 1/2" in 10'. Not too bad, but the homeowner (who is also the builder) was quite distraught about it.

From contributor S:
With a design set for a solid countertop height along the drop on the floor there isn't much for an option. As mentioned, install off the high point in the run and that will ensure DW clearance and ample height for the freestanding range. I've had to lift freestanding ranges, DW's, refers and other appliances with buildup boxes because of excessive floor out-of-level conditions. Most appliances have around 3/4" to 1 1/4" adjustment on included leveling feet. I've never seen a floor off 4" in 10' before though. Thatís steeper than required slopes on draining floors. You might suggest the homeowner look into re-leveling the subfloor because surely structural damage has occurred if the whole of the area has settled that much.

From contributor A:
I had a floor that required us to shim the fridge with a piece of 3/4 plywood on the right side. Second floor of an old building built in the 1800's. There was a 10' run that was out at least 4". It was a granite counter top 34" by the wall and 38" in the middle of the room and 36" at the sink/dishwasher.