How to finish kitchen cabinets at ceiling

How to finish kitchen cabinets at ceiling

How to finish kitchen cabinets at ceiling

How do you finish kitchen cabinets at ceiling level?
There is a small gap above mine so I need to add a trim/molding above the kitchen cabinets to close the gap. As you can see from the attached picture, the frame-less cabinets go nearly to the ceiling. The contractor who installed the cabinets added that small piece of wood on top (is that called a cleat?)- I think he said so that the trim would have some place to attach. Now he is unable to finish the job and I need to explain to someone else what to do.
The issue is: the ceiling is not straight. On one side of the cabinets there is 3/4 inches between the ceiling and the bottom edge of the cleat. On the other side there is 1 and 1/8 inch between the ceiling and the bottom of the cleat, a variance of 3/8. I would like the molding to go all the way up and be flush with the ceiling.

My questions are:

1. Do I trim the molding so that it is thinner on one side and wider on another (I'm assuming having uneven molding would not look good)
2. do I use a small enough piece of molding so it fits in the narrower end and then on the wider end I just fill in with caulk/plaster between the top of the molding and the ceiling?
3. there is 1/8 inches of cabinet before the doors start -- do I slightly overlap the molding on the top edge of the cabinet, or should the bottom edge of the molding just line up with the bottom edge of the cleat?


Comments for How to finish kitchen cabinets at ceiling

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Jan 01, 2017
I agree
by: Anonymous

Great answer. when houses are out of level, you have to pay somewhere.

Aug 06, 2015
by: Anonymous

Thanks so much for your response -- I just am seeing it now for some reason. I will need to read it a few times (I am completely inexperienced at this!) to see if I can understand it completely. I will let you know if I have any questions.
Thanks again!!

Jul 23, 2015
How to finish kitchen cabinets at the ceiling
by: Gary

Hello anonymous,

Thank-you for a good question and supplying a picture.

This is relatively straight forward to answer. Unfortunately, assuming the cabinets are in level it is the ceiling that is not level. Anything you do should stay level.

In other words, you need to scribe a piece of trim or molding so that the bottom edge very slightly overlaps the kitchen cabinet covering the join between that and the cleat or batten/infill.

The top of this molding will be scribed to match exactly the same uneven shape of the ceiling.

To explain, imagine the gap is 3/4in on the left hand side and that grows to 1 1/8in on the right hand end of the cabinets.
In order to scribe this tight to the ceiling, take the cabinet doors off and pin the molding you are using to the cleat, so that it is touching the ceiling where the gap is the smallest (left) and parallel all the way along the cabinets. On the right hand side this will mean a 3/8 gap above the batten as the batten is pinned temporarily level with the lowest point of the ceiling. Now you need to know the measurement from the bottom of the molding, to where you want the bottom of the molding to finish (just covering the cleat). Lets imagine this is 1/2inch. Get a offcut of timber and cut a small block half inch thick. Now use that as a guide to run along the ceiling with a pencil marking a line 1/2 inch down from the ceiling onto the molding. Now when you cut/plane this off the molding and return it to the top of the cabinet it will have shifted up perfectly 1/2 inch. The top of the molding will be cut to the exact shape of the ceiling and the bottom of the molding will just be covering the bottom of the cleat and very slightly overlapping the top lip edge of the cabinet.

Glue/pin in place and caulk if necessary. Put the doors back on and voila.

Hope that makes sense?

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