Do Kitchen Cabinets Have Backs? (Explained!)

Quality kitchen cabinets offer a sturdy, full-height back panel for strength and ease of installation.

With a full back panel, the cabinet can be directly fastened to wall studs at any place on the cabinet back. If the cabinet must be cut around ductwork, plumbing, or electricity, the alteration will be easier on the complete back.

Here’s If Kitchen Cabinets Have Backs

A kitchen cabinet has a full back panel from the time it is built in the factory. The rear panel is essential for maintaining the cabinet straight and level, making installation easier.

Kitchen Cabinets

Do kitchen cabinets need a back?

Yes, kitchen cabinets do need a back. Installing one in your kitchen cabinet will help you reduce the possibility of deformation and dampness, its overall performance will be stronger whilst providing a uniform force.

Reduce the possibility of deformation and dampness.

The kitchen is a damp environment. If there is no card slot back plate (that is, the back plate does not lean against the wall and is still 1 cm away from the wall), your items within the cabinet will be wet on the wall. Food stored in the cabinet becomes moldy as a result of direct touch.

The overall performance is stronger, more beautiful

A kitchen is a tool that you can utilize on a daily basis. Assume that you will view your wall tiles every time you open the cupboard. It does not appear to be a separate space.

More uniform force

Everyone understands that in physics, the weight of the countertop falls primarily on the cabinet. The addition of the rear panel not only serves as a moisture-proof barrier, but it also applies a uniform force. 

The addition of a rear panel can significantly reduce the cabinet size. The incidence of deformation extends the cabinet’s service life.

Why do Kitchen Cabinets Need a Back?

Kitchen cabinets need a sturdy, full-height back panel for strength and ease of installation to give the cabinet more stability, durability, better appearance, and safety


A cabinet rear panel keeps the box square and keeps it from being pulled out of alignment (also known as racking). From corner to corner, it acts as cross bracing. The back additionally provides additional stability for base cabinets with thick stone counters.


Plywood back panels are more sturdy than drywall behind the cabinet and will withstand more wear and tear. A plywood backing is also much easier to replace than a chunk of drywall.

Typically, sink cabinets do not have a back for easy access to the plumbing. If you look inside yours, you’ll undoubtedly see shambles of scrapes and drips on the drywall!


The majority of the drywall behind a cabinet is unpainted and has marks and notations from the cabinet installation. The back conceals the drywall behind it and gives it a more professional appearance.


For an older home, it is possible to have holes in the drywall that allow insects or rodents easy access. A cabinet back safeguards your food by blocking their secret entrance.

Note that your home’s walls may not be perfectly straight. Shims can help straighten cabinets during installation, but they can also leave gaps between the cabinet and the wall. Small items could be lost in the gaps between the wall and the cabinet, never to be seen again!

Can Kitchen Cabinets be Without Back?

Kitchen cabinets can be without a back, instead of a back panel, the kitchen cabinets contain strips that serve an important function in ensuring that they are linked to the wall and stay in place.

As a result, once installed, the wall serves as the back of the kitchen cabinets. Instead of having planned backs, the walls will efficiently serve the role of backs. 

If the cabinet lacks a back, your wall will serve as its back. That may be alright for a time, but cabinets are subjected to a lot of abuse, and a quick wipe down versus cleaning or repainting a wall would be far less labor.

More significantly, the back keeps the cabinets square. The frame and door would be unsteady and weak if they were fitted alone because they would not stay square.

What do you call the back of a cabinet?

The back of a cabinet is called a cabinet back panel. The back of a cabinet is not thick enough to be considered a board like the rest of the cabinet box. It is therefore considered to be a panel.

There are other panels in the anatomy of the kitchen cabinet – for example, the end panel – so the panel of the back of the cabinet, to avoid confusion or redundancy, is called the cabinet back panel.

Do kitchen sink base cabinets need a back?

No, a sink base cabinet is designed specifically for use with a sink. The lack of a back panel on the cabinet provides for easy access to the plumbing. 

Sink base cabinets are also devoid of drawers, which would interfere with the water lines, waste traps, and any other pipes located beneath the sink. 

A sink base cabinet can be made of the same wood as the rest of the cabinets in the kitchen or bathroom. The finish and door style can be customized to match the other units.

Before purchasing a sink base cabinet, homeowners should select which sort of sink they want to use, as the style of the sink may influence the type of cabinet required.

How thick should the back of a kitchen cabinet be?

The thickness of the back of a kitchen cabinet can be as little as 4mm or as thick as 15mm. The most common backing thickness being 12.7mm.

This is significant since the 4mm option is essentially a piece of hardboard attached to the rear of the cabinet, whereas a 15mm back panel will be actual wood, which will look and feel higher quality.

Can you attach a back panel to a kitchen cabinet without one?

Yes, it is possible to include a cabinet back panel to a kitchen cabinet that was manufactured without one by nailing or stapling the back panel onto the kitchen cabinet box.

The most straightforward approach is to simply staple or attach the panel to the back of the cabinet. Ideally cut a 1/4″ plywood piece large enough to cover the box’s borders and tack it down every 8-10 inches. The back panel can stretch all the way to the floor if the toe kick is integrated into the sides.

For this task, you can use staples or panel nails. Staples are more convenient, especially if you have a pneumatic or battery-powered stapler. Panel nails have wide, flat heads with threads running the length of the shaft to keep them from falling loose over time.

The most difficult element is ensuring that all of your corners are square and that you don’t hit your fingers with the hammer.

Because the nails or staples might work their way out of the wood over time, this method of fastening the back isn’t the most durable. The thin plywood backing isn’t sturdy enough to support the weight on its own, you’ll still need to add a nailing strip inside the cabinet.

When viewed from the side, the nailed-on panel adds 1/4″ to the depth of the cabinet, and the exposed plywood edges are visible. 

Bottom Line

The major purpose of the back panel is to keep the area clean and vermin-free. It also keeps the case square and prevents racking.

The sink base may have a back panel, but drilling holes again for the sink drain and water supply in the exact location would be troublesome.