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DIY built in cabinets

How to Build a Custom Built-In Cabinet

Learn how to build a custom built-in cabinet in your home to maximize storage space with the help of your Wagner FLEXiO 3500 paint sprayer.

DIFFICULTY: Intermediate


When I moved into my new house I knew that the large space in my laundry room (that was originally designated for a large deep freezer) was the perfect space for a built-in cabinet. I needed a space to house my tools, hold my dog's kennels and give me a little extra storage for all of those fun *ahem* spare bits and bobs that end up in the laundry room. There’s a few steps for this one so let’s jump in!


built in cabinet before


built in cabinet after

Plan your Cabinet

Ready to plan your cabinet? Since we're working with a predetermined area that's 53 inches wide by 34 inches long we know the cabinet will need to fit inside that space... your space might be different dimensions but you can always work off these measurements to make a custom piece to fit your area.

To start with think about how you'll use the space, then start to sketch out rough plans for how many shelves and cubbies you'll have. I wanted to make sure that certain items would fit in certain areas... so I started with those and made the rest of my measurements around those pieces.

I knew I needed to store dog kennels, my Wagner spray guns and a few pegboards… which made the plans easy to draw up.

plan the cabinet

Cut your Shelves and Cleats

We have a bunch of cuts to make so we're going to start at the top of the cut list and work our way down. Mom came over to help me cut the larger boards (and I finally ordered hearing protection!) and we worked our way through the cut list. Each time we cut a large piece we carried it into the laundry room to make sure it fit properly... just a little precaution!

This took a few minutes but once we finished with the large cuts it was on to the smaller ones. For these you could easily keep using your circular saw but we pulled out the miter saw and chopped all the cleats and trim down to size.

cut the shelves

Use your FLEXiO 3500 to Spray all the Boards

Ready for the best part? Spraying our boards! These cabinets are going to get a lot of wear and tear (my dogs will literally live in them) so I decided to do a layer of primer topped with a layer of water-based cabinet enamel. These paints will go on smooth and nearly in-destructible if applied properly... and since we're spraying both layers they'll be super even. Which is kind of the definition of applied properly.

Either way I couldn't wait to break my new Wagner Flexio 3500 out of the box... I've never met a Wagner sprayer I didn't like and this one is definitely at the top of my list. It's super light weight and sprayed continuously without any trouble. I even had to run inside for a puppy emergency (it was nothing but they were barking like someone's leg got cut off!) and by the time I got back outside I was convinced the sprayer would have clogged. I mentally prepared myself to clean out the nozzle but it was good to go. It really seals itself in between sprays... plus it's super fast.

Once all the boards are painted (front, back, sides, primer and topcoat) you're good to go! Let them dry (and cure!) and then we're on to the next step.

spray cabinets

Install the Cleats & Shelves

While we'll have a few vertical support pieces these cleats are the main supports of our shelf... so we need to be extra sure they're going into studs. That's the only way they'll be able to hold the weight of our shelf (and the items on the shelf).

Use a stud finder to mark the studs and then measure the distance from the floor to the first cleat. Once you've marked the top of the first cleat you can install it on the wall. Then add the side cleats (making sure they’re level) before adding your first large shelf.

installing cabinet

Add the Vertical Supports

To start go ahead and drill pocket holes in the top (and bottom for the supports with a top and bottom shelf) of the vertical supports. Then cut out a notch from the back of the vertical support so that it fits snuggly under the back cleat (the one we already secured to the wall).

Once the vertical support was in place I used a square to make sure the support was... square. Both to the shelf above it and the floor below it. Then I used a long t-square (actually the guide from my rip cut) as a guide to mark where the vertical support is from the top of the shelf. Then I sank several 1 3/8" brads all the way down the guide... through the top of the shelf and into the vertical support. Once I had secured the piece with brads I wiggled into the cubby's and added pocket screws into the pre-drilled holes.

installing cabinet

Repeat Steps 4 & 5 for Each Shelf

Alright y'all... you have the basic formula! From here on out we're going to add a few more shelves using the same techniques as the first one. For my cabinet I'm adding 3 large shelves (53 by 30) and 2 shelves that are a little less wide (53 by 12).

installing cabinet

Add Pegboards on Drawer Slides

Now that we have all of our shelves installed let’s add a few pegboards! These will go flush to the front of the cabinet and be mounted on drawer slides. That way they can be fully organized but move out of the way when you need to access the back shelves. Just make sure to install spacers behind the drawer slides so that they can clear the front trim piece!

installing cabinet

Add your Trim Pieces

At this point we have the bones of our cabinet finished! You can see the shape of the piece and how it's going to look... but we're not done yet. I want this cabinet to look like was built into this space... like it was always meant to be here. So let’s cut a few trim pieces and add them to the front of our cabinet. Make sure to measure twice and cut once… and if you’re being extra fancy you can cut the molding sections above and below of the trim out so that you get a perfect fit.

installing cabinet

Spackle and Caulk

Ready for the finishing touches? Let’s add a bit of spackle to all of the brad nail holes as well as any gaps between the shelves and the trim boards. Then we’ll finish the whole thing off with a bead of caulk between the trim and the wall. That will really sell the built-in look!

spackle and caulk


Doesn’t it look fabulous!? I’m so proud of how it turned out… I just want to sit in the laundry room and stare at it! I cannot wait to organize this baby! I can’t wait to load it up with tools, dog supplies and laundry room essentials. In the meantime… here’s a close up of the baby soft painted finish of my brand new cabinet.

This sponsored post was created by Happily Ever After Etc. Head to the blog for the full post and details.

DIY built in cabinets
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