2 Install Rail and Cap

Have the Install Manual, Drawings, and Organize your Tools

With any good installation, the installer needs his installation manual, as there’s a lot of information in the manual that you need to refer to such as the height of the rail and cap, and that’s the next step in the installation. In the video, this house has nine-foot ceilings, and so the customer wanted to take advantage of those high ceilings by putting in a tall unit. With a taller unit the gables are eight feet high, so you install the rail higher on the wall.

If you’re doing the installation by yourself, and of course it’s much easier if you have some helping you, it becomes even more difficult when you’re dealing with eight-foot gables. This is because everything you do you have to climb up and down a ladder as compared to a regular height gable where you can reach.

When installing by yourself, organization is the key, so get all our tools ready and within reach.

Finding the Studs

Start by finding all the studs behind the drywall. It’s important not to skimp on the quality of your tools, and this includes you Stud Finder. This step of the installation is an extremely important part because you need to make sure that the rail is securely fastened to the studs behind the wall. You also need to get used to the feel and sound of the drill you’re working with. As the screw enters the stud, your drill will drag down slightly and make a different sound. You need to become experienced with this sound and feel to make sure all the screws are firmly fastened into the studs. Drilling into the drywall, and missing the stud, will guarantee the unit will fall off the wall which can cause damage or injury.

When finding the studs first mark on the wall at the bottom of where the rail will go. Mark on the bottom because once the rail is lifted into position you will not be able to see a mark above the rail. An easier way to install the rail, that we discovered after years of blindly doing it one way, is to place the rail on the wall at the correct height, and then in the middle of the rail place a screw. This screw doesn’t have to be in a stud, it is only to hold the rail on the wall. Just make sure the steel rail has the correct side facing up.

Tip: Pushing the rail tightly toward the end wall, and then inserting the screw in the middle of the rail but facing toward the end wall, will help hold the rail in position so it doesn’t fall on either end.

Now use your Stud Finder and work your way along the wall. With most Stud Finders you will need to start in a spot where there is no stud behind the wall and at the same time hold the Stud Finder firmly against the wall and with the button firmly pressed. If you start on a stud and soon as you move the Stud Finder, it will start to beep. Reposition a few inches over and start again.

Work your way along the wall and using a felt pen mark right on the steel rail the beginning and end of each stud. This distance should be the thickness of a stud which is 1-1/2”. Anything wider could be a few studs packed together or something else…like plumbing or heating pipes. Once you mark out all the studs then take your tape measure and measure the distance between the studs. The most common distance is 16” on center (o.c.). However, you might have 24” o.c. or even some special application have a distance of just over 19” o.c.. Now put a small “X” in between each stud mark if it falls on one of the distance patterns previously mentioned. In this way it provides a little more confidence that it is actually a stud and not a pipe, electrical wire, or something else.

Inspect Opposite Side of the Wall

An important safety precaution, when you’re about to install rail and cap, is to inspect the other side of the wall that you’re about to install the rail and cap. If it’s a kitchen, bathroom, or utility room with an electrical panel, you need to exercise extreme caution. Knowing what on the other side will help you determine what the stud mark might mean especially if they are thinner or wider than 1-1/2”.

Insert Screw Fasteners

Once you’ve decided where each stud is located, you can start to insert your screws. We recommend using a 4-foot level and placing it on top of the rail. It’s important to have a very good level, do not cheap out on the level. Oh, and make sure when you purchase the level it is actually level. But you’re probably saying; “aren’t all levels level?” Sorry to say, no they’re not! Making sure the steel rail, than eventually the cabinet itself, is perfectly level is critical, especially when upper cabinets have doors otherwise the doors will never line up.

Tip: How do you check if a level is level? Hold the level against a wall and it’s best if you can actually draw a line on the wall. Make sure the level is reading perfectly level and draw a line. Now flip the level so the bottom of the level is now facing up and hold it against your line. If the bubble is not perfectly level, you know the level is no good…look for a better one.

In the video it shows a corner unit, and when installing rail and cap you need to figure out what wall the corner gable will be installed. To confirm, look at one of the fixed corner shelves to make sure you know where the gable notch is located. Once you figure out which wall the corner gable will be mounted you need to make sure on the adjacent wall you leave 6-inches of space before started the rail and cap. This is necessary so the corner gable can sit flat against the wall (See Fixed Shelf Installation for more details).

With the steel rail perfectly level start inserting screws. It is recommended to use a 1-1/2” screw as longer screw will penetrate the wall too deep and can puncture a pipe or electrical wiring. Plumbers and Electricians, if following local building codes, should run their pipe and wires in the middle of the stud. This is usually fine when they are running a small water pipe or 14/2 wire. If its 2×4 construction, then your 1-1/2” screw will penetrate 1/2” through the drywall (in some cases they use 5/8” drywall) and 1” into the stud. A 2×4 stud is 3-1/2” wide so the center of the stud will be 1-3/4” from the side of the stud or 2-1/4” from the face of the drywall. This usually gives enough room for screw insertion without screwing into something. However, you can never be completely positive because there might be a larger diameter drainage pipe or larger wire. There are more advanced, and more expensive, Stud Finders on the market that use radio frequency technology that can distinguish between different objects such as wood, metal stud, wire, and plumbing. We have found these very useful in our installations.

It is recommended that you install two screws into each stud by slightly angling them towards the center of the stud. This added holding strength will help in the overall support of a suspended cabinet.

Tip: Don’t push hard on the drill when inserting screws. If the screw is going into a wood stud the screw will grab and start to pull itself into the wall. If you find resistance, and the screw is just spinning, STOP! There is a good chance it might be a metal or plastic pipe. Taking caution during this step will save a lot of grief, problems, money, and frustration.

Tip: Don’t push hard on the drill when inserting screws. If the screw is going into a wood stud the screw will grab and start to pull itself into the wall. If you find resistance, and the screw is just spinning, STOP! There is a good chance it might be a metal or plastic pipe. Taking caution during this step will save a lot of grief, problems, money, and frustration.

Extending Rail and Cap on Longer Walls

The best practice for installing steel rail on walls that are longer than 8 feet (the length of one piece of steel rail) is to join the rail over the middle of a stud. In this way you get more strength and have less change of the organizer pulling the rail off the wall. Keep in mind that with the Sherwood Shelving rail system, all of the weight is carried by the gables, so if the position of the gable falls between two studs with a full piece of rail that is best. However, if the gable will land close to a steel rail butt joint, then we recommend using the Snap Toggler 1/4” that is sold in our Online Ordering platform. Just make sure to install the Snap Toggler a few holes apart from each other allowing enough drywall between them to provide the necessary strength.

Once the steel rail has been installed it is recommended that swapping the installation of the short cap on the long steel rail and put the long cap over the short steel rail. In this way the cap seam doesn’t fall directly over the steel rail seam, and this ends up looking much better.

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