How to Frame a Kitchen Counter

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Things You'll Need

  • Circular saw

  • Saw horses

  • Safety glasses

  • Tape measure

  • Pencil

  • Carpenter's square

  • Framing square

  • Nails (#12 rosin coated and #16 common)


When you install a horizontal row of blocks in a wood frame wall, make sure all blocks are in a level line and at the same height from the floor.

These framing ideas are designed for a interior wall that has no wall covering. If sheetrock or some other type of sheathing is present, then mark the location of the studs with a pencil and secure the counter top and cabinets directly to the studs. You still need to build a base.


The base frame installed in step 2 needs to be level, so that the cabinets and countertop are also level. Cedar shims placed under the frame can help level the base, if that is necessary.

The surface of a kitchen counter can be made from anything from Formica glued to a pre-shaped piece of particle board, to a counter top made from baked and glazed clay tiles. The wall and base, however, are almost always made from a 2-by-4 frame, while the bulk of the counter that is used as counter area will eventually hold a row of cabinets. Learn how to frame the wall that is located directly behind the counter space as well as special pieces that form the base of a kitchen cabinet.

How to Frame a Kitchen Counter

Step 1

Check any adjoining walls to see if they are square. Often, a counter is built against a straight section of wall, so you can skip this step. But if there is a section of wall that adjoins the counter space at a right angle, then check the juncture to see if it is square. If the side wall is not square or plumb and you are installing cabinets, then you might want to allow room for a spacer piece to fill the gap between the edge of the cabinets and the wall. If this is the case, add some room to the frame that goes on the floor beneath the cabinets.

Step 2

Build the frame that goes underneath the cabinets. It should be made from 2-by-4s standing on end (just as if you were building a floor) but the cross pieces need only be every 24 inches and they should be located on the center. If your cabinets are 24 inches deep (a likely scenario) and 72 inches long, then your base will come out to be 20 inches by 72 inches. This allows for a "kick space" that is four inches deep underneath the cabinets. To make this base you will need two long 2-by-4s at 72 inches and four short pieces, each one 17 inches long. Cut the pieces and then nail them together using the rosin coated nails.

Step 3

Place the frame exactly where you want it to go and then nail it to the bottom plate of the rear wall. Drive several #16 framing nails through the rear piece of the base and into the bottom plate of the interior wall. Place several nails along the length of the rear piece. Don't forget that the bottom plate only comes up 1 1/2 inches, but you can also nail the base to the lower portion of the vertical framing members.

Step 4

Make sure the base is square (check it with your frame) and then nail the frame of the base right through the sub floor and into the floor joists. Also, make sure the nails penetrate the sub-floor and grab into the top of the wooden joists.

Step 5

Place 2-by-4 blocks in the wall behind the counter so the Formica countertop can be anchored to the wall. Calculate the height of the countertop before you nail the blocks. Examine the counter top and locate, where on the splashboard, the screws are inserted, when you attach the counter top to the wall. When you make the measurement for the height, include the height of the base and the cabinets, as well as the vertical distance along the splashboard. When you know the precise height for the blocking, begin to put the 2-by-4 blocks in place. Turn the blocks sideways so that the 3 1/2 inch wide face is flush with the outside edge of the vertical wall studs. Nail the blocks to the uprights with #12 nails, placing at least four nails for each board.

Step 6

Add another row of blocks so that the cabinets can also be attached to the rear wall. This row of blocks is installed in exactly the same manner as those in step 5, except the location is different. This row of blocks should fall midway between the top and the bottom of the cabinet.

Henri Bauholz

Henri Bauholz is a professional writer covering a variety of topics, including hiking, camping, foreign travel and nature. He has written travel articles for several online publications and his travels have taken him all over the world, from Mexico to Latin America and across the Atlantic to Europe.