When it comes to installing cabinets or cabinet hardware the cabinet screws are the #1 thing you’ll be working with. Having a great drill, high quality bits and other tools or jigs won’t matter if you don’t have the right screws for installing cabinets. In this article learn what the best cabinet screws are for your next project.
I’ll confess I’ve installed cabinets with drywall screws before. And, oddly enough, it was during the 1990’s when I was working at a professional cabinet shop (of all places).
Perhaps we did it this way because specialty screws like the FastCap Powerhead Screws weren’t around yet.
But cabinet screws have come a long way in the last 25 years and there are a huge variety of screws to choose from. So, put away that random box of screws from the big box store (who doesn’t sell the screws we’re going to talk about today) and learn what screws you need and where to buy them:
- Hinge screws for doors that won’t shake loose
- Cabinet to wall screws for both to the wall and cabinet to cabinet
- Screws for building cabinets
- Drawer slide screws for maximum holding power
- BEST CABINET TO WALL: FASTCAP POWERHEAD 2-1/2
- FOR CABINET TO CABINET: FASTCAP POWERHEAD 1-1/4
- CABINET CLAW FOR FACE FRAMES: bESSEY CABINET CLAW
- BEST FACE FRAME SCREWS: GRK TRIM HEAD
- FOR HARDWARE INSTALLATION: ROK #8
- FRAMELESS POST SCREW: CHICAGO POST BOLTS
- HIDDEN SCREW STICKERS: FASTCAP SCREW CAP COVERS
Warning: Installing cabinets is a high risk project that could involve injury or damage. If you aren’t sure, hire a kitchen remodeler to do the job for you.
Types of cabinet Screws
If making or installing cabinets wasn’t hard enough, attempting to pick screws should be easy. Right?
Well, because of the nature of cabinets and how they are installed finding the right cabinet mounting and hardware screws takes a little research.
And, that research will pay off when it comes time to start drilling.
So, to help you navigate, here are the types of cabinet screws:
- Cabinet to wall screws are self-tapping, washer head designed screws made to take a load.
- Cabinet to cabinet screws are generally the same as cabinet to wall screws.
- Face frame screws are typically best using a trim head screw.
- Drawer installation screws require a heavy duty, aggressive thread that will hold up to decades of drawer slamming.
- Cabinet hardware screws are a machine thread screw in a variety of lengths.
- Post screws are used to connect frameless cabinet sides together through the shelf pin holes
- Confirmat screws are uniquely designed to screw into particle board (MDF).
While that seems like a lot of options, most projects will require just 2 or 3 cabinet screws depending on your application.
Cabinet to Wall Screws For Hanging Cabinets
- Country of manufacture: United States
- Package Dimensions: 5.7 L x 21.5H x12.1W(centimeters)
- Made in America
Last update on 2021-05-28 at 06:44 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The first and MOST IMPORTANT screw you’ll need is one that will hold the weight of the cabinet (and it’s contents) against the wall.
A few things to consider:
- Total screw length is key as every house can be different. Consider at least thickness of the cabinet back, wall surface thickness (plaster/lathe, drywall, etc) and then stud thickness.
- Stud construction on metal vs. wood studs
- Quantity – I like to plan 4 screws per every foot of upper and base cabinets. So a 25-foot long kitchen will take 100 screws.
- Screw head designs are typically a large, flat surface screw that offers maximum holding power against the cabinet back.
I typically start with 2-1/2″ screw and work my way up from there but, again, check your cabinet construction first.
Concerned about hitting the studs? Use a cabinet hanger like these EazyHang hangers (affiliate link) that will let you install a secure hanger to the wall FIRST. These are a great DIY option for upper cabinets.
Wall Screws for Cabinets
Cabinet to cabinet screws for lateral connections
- Use GRK Bit T-10
- Self-Tapping W-cut thread design
- Patented Climatek coating
Last update on 2021-05-27 at 14:06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
When installing cabinets I have a preferred tool for any face frame installation that will GREATLY IMPROVE your finished installation: the Pony Cabinet Claw or Bessey Cabinet Claw . These clamps quickly go on, hold cabinets in position and let you worry about the screws. Not the alignment of the frame.
As you likely know, connecting the cabinet sides together is a must to hide any gaps between the cabinet sides or face frames.
And, not surprisingly, there are a few custom screws and methods that will let you achieve the best results. In fact, there are three types of screws you’ll want to use depending on the construction of your cabinets.
Frameless Cabinet Installation Screws
Frameless cabinets, as you may know or have guessed, lack a face frame on the front of the cabinets. And, for cabinet screws this gives you TWO options during installation.
Option 1 is using post screws that have a male and female side that connect from either side of the two cabinets. It’s common to install these in the top and bottom shelf pin holes to blend them in them.
Tip: while a tight installation usually works, some installers will use Loctite to make these screws hold extremely tight (removable, but essentially locked).
Option 2 is using a shorter version of the cabinet to wall screw we just reviewed. And, with most frameless cabinets having a 3/4″ sidewall a 1-1/4″ length should work in almost all installations. But if your sidewalls are 5/8″ just shorten up to a 1″ screw.
Finally, for holding a frameless cabinet during installation you’ll need a heavy duty clamp like the FastCap Jack of All Trades. Skip the cheap bulk packages of squeeze clamps as they will slip.
Face Frame Cabinet to Cabinet Screws
Face frame cabinets are both easier and harder to install.
Because the frame allows you to adjust the fit of the cabinets to each other and the wall you can make-up for imperfections (I use a belt sander and scribe for that job).
But they are harder to install as the face frame fit is a must since the cabinet doors won’t lay as close to the seam in most cabinets of this style.
Using Cabinet to Cabinet Screws Behind the Frame
There are two schools of thought on this. First, either install trim head screws in the frame (only). Or, second, install trim head screws in the frame AND use a screw just behind the frame.
But, I like insurance so I do both. And, as noted above with the cabinet claw, you can quickly close the gaps in your cabinet frames with a shorter version of either the GRK or FastCap screw.
Connecting Cabinet Frames with Trim Head Screws
After your first cabinet is installed and the second one is balanced in the air, hopefully on a cabinet jack, you’ll want to use that cabinet claw to secure the frame.
Then, using an extra long 1/8″ drill bit (4-5″ or more) you’ll drill a long hole using the guide bushing on the cabinet claw complete through the first face frame and partially into the next.
Last, you’ll install a trim head screw, like the GRK, at least 1/2″ into the adjacent cabinet or filler strip.
By using a trim head screw directly in the face frame you’ll have maximum control over the grip of the frame. While a cabinet-to-cabinet screw behind the frame can work, it won’t have the same holding power.
Cabinet Hardware Screws
It’s surprising to some that you’d even need to consider this type of screw.
After all, the cabinet hardware you just purchased should have came with the right screws. Right?
Unfortunately, I’ve had bad luck with being able to use all the screws (both wood and machine screws) that come with cabinet hardware.
Stock up on machine screws for drawers
After the cabinets are screwed to the wall you’ll likely end up drilling cabinet knob hardware and installing knobs and handles.
And guess what?
There are specific screws for this job as well. After hacking and cutting many machine screws I’ve learned to always have a box or two of 8-32 x 1-1/4 inch and 8-32 x 1-5/8 machine screws in your toolbox.
Why? Because most custom cabinet fronts are 3/4″, drawer sides are 5/8″ and knobs needing about 1/4″ of screw length a 1-5/8″ machine screw can make the installation smoother. And hardware manufacturers just don’t supply what you’ll need.
Installing drawer slides requires buying your own cabinet screw
Installing drawers requires a mix of skill and the right Rok #8 screws
In fact, as I found in our guide to the best soft close drawer slides, beyond inadequate drawer slide screws some manufacturers just plain send the wrong screws.
Lastly, for face frame cabinets you will almost certainly need screws in the frame. And almost all hardwoods will require a pilot hole, best done with a self centering pilot hole bit, to avoid splitting the wood (or worse – breaking the screw). But for the record, I rarely drill pilot holes in softwoods.
Cabinet Assembly Screws
While most traditional plywood and face frame constructed cabinets are glued and nailed there are uses for cabinet screws in construction.
Cabinet screws to join melamine and particle board
If you’ve ever assembled IKEA furniture you’ll know what this is about. And, personally, I think their systems for connecting furniture and cabinets is ingenious.
But I still prefer to build plywood cabinets.
So how do you join melamine (aka particleboard) at right angles? With a confirmat head screw, as pictured below:
What is a confirmat screw? A confirmat screw is a special cabinet screw that leverages a large thread design suited to particleboard cores and a recessed flat head that can be concealed.
However, to use this type of screw you’ll need to invest in a specialty confirmat countersink .
Frequently Asked Questions for Cabinet Screws
How long are screws to attach cabinets to the wall?
While wall construction determines the length most screws are a minimum of 2-1/2″ up to 3-1/2″.
What screws are used to connect cabinets together?
There are three types of screws for connecting cabinets together. Face frame cabinets utilize trim-head screws drilled through the frames. While frameless cabinets use either shorter screws or Chicago bolts to connect the cabinet.
How many screws do I need to install cabinets?
For wall screws plan for 4 wall screws per foot of cabinet and then four screws per cabinet box for connecting cabinets together.
Three Cabinet Screws to Avoid
So I promised three screws you should avoid.
And here they are:
- Drywall screws are NOT to be used for installing cabinets. Please, just don’t do it.
- Drawer manufacturer screws shouldn’t be counted on – instead buy an appropriate length Rok #8 screw used. And to be clear, I’ll only use manufacturer screws in face frame connection points. Otherwise, what they send just won’t hold up to years of weight and slamming.
- Deck/outdoor screws (see #1)
Summary: Cabinet Screws
Hopefully this article was helpful in understanding the subtle differences in screws you’ll need while building and installing cabinets. While not the most exciting purchase, a good assortment of cabinet screws will make an installation go smoother.
And prevent need for future adjustments caused by the wrong screw.
Cabinet Installation Series
Planning & Tools To Install Cabinets
Guides for Cabinet Installation
Finishing Cabinets With Molding and Hardware
Last update on 2021-05-28 at 06:44 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API