Hanging Cabinets in Straw Bale Walls

Written by Andrew Morrison

cabinet backing on straw bale wallThe easiest way for hanging cabinets in straw bale walls is to use the chainsaw to cut a notch in the bale wall about 1 1/2 inch deep and 4 inches tall at the top of the base cabinets, as well as the bottom and top of the upper cabinets. This notch should be about 3-6″ up (or down in the case of the top notches) from the edge of the cabinet. In other words, this will be for screwing the cabinets into to and so needs to be below the top of the cabinet for access and above the bottom of the cabinet as well.

If you look inside your current cabinets, you should see a few screws through the back. That is the area you are looking to provide the nailers for. Once you have the notch, place a 2×4 into it and tie it through the straw bale with a baling needle and some twine to hold it in place. Do this right before you add the mesh to the wall. When the mesh is installed, staple it to the nailers well. Sew the mesh through the wall and to the mesh on the far side of the wall. Now you have cabinet nailers! If there is a significant void around the 2×4 due to over cutting of the bale wall, use a little expansion foam to fill it in. That will help provide further strength to the nailer. Try not to let the foam expand through the mesh as that will need to get cut off if it does.

Be sure to take a picture of a tape measure stretched from the floor to the center of each nailer. The picture should be a close up that shows the exact height of the nailer in the wall. Remember that it will be buried in plaster and you won’t want to take random shots in the plaster trying to find the nailers again. I usually run my nailers wider than I know they will need to be across a kitchen wall so if a change is made in the cabinetry, I will usually have enough nailer to accommodate the additional upper and lower cabinets on a long wall.

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12 Responses

  1. This brings up something I’ve been wondering about. Do you have to provide this kind of “nailer” for anything that you want to hang on the walls?

  2. eat question Katie. The answer is no. You only need to add nailers if the stuff you plan on hanging is very heavy, like cabinets or specific items you know weigh a lot. If you want to hang pictures, you can use standard wall hangers with no problem. The biggest problem is filling holes in plaster walls when you move pictures! I find the best thing here is to paint your walls with a quality, green paint so you can spackle and repaint over holes created by moved pictures.

  3. I really appreciate seeing images like this! They are inspiring. Do you know of any books that are good for browsing lots of design ideas? The only one I’ve looked at is “The Straw Bale House.”


  4. Katie,
    Catherine Wanek’s book “The New Straw Bale Home” has some nice shots. That said, I think there is a bit of a void for exactly what you are looking for. I’ll try and fill that in the years to come!

  5. Can old trailer house I-beams be used for post and beam building? My husband works in a rock quarry with clay available,Can this be used? Planning passive solar strawbale with reclaimed barn wood for interiors. Thanks Denise [email protected]

  6. It would be great if the instructions you mentioned about hanging heavy cabinets are illustrated in clear detail. It would make things much easier to understand.

  7. Hello, is there a way to hang kitchen cabinets after the home is built? We purchased a straw bale home but a large wall of the kitchen was left without any cabinets and we would like to have some upper cabinets but can’t seem to find any info on doing this. Thank you.

  8. Hi Jennifer. There are a few ways to accomplish this (probably more). You can use wall anchors through the back of the cabinet and into the plaster. As long as they are rated for the weight requirements and the material they are installed into (the plaster), you can anchor this way. Another option is to build a framed wall behind the cabinets and in front of the bales. One other option is to hang the upper cabinets from the ceiling and place the base cabinets on the ground (on cabinet feet). Hope that helps.

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