To define the space above cabinets and balance out the room, install kitchen soffits. A soffit can be framed to be just decorative, or it may hide a length of air conditioning duct work. In order to properly frame kitchen soffits, follow these instructions.
Step 1 – Check for Blocking
Check out the place where the soffit will be installed to determine if more blocking will be needed before drywall installation. Blocking will be needed if the joists run the same direction as the soffit will. If so, place 2x4 blocking every 16 inches. Don’t worry about the 2x4 sizing even though the ceiling timbers are bigger. Attach the blocks with framing nails.
Step 2 – Hang Sheetrock
Place sheetrock on the ceiling and wall where the soffit will go. This will serve as a fire barrier and does not need to be finished off with any plaster since it will be hidden by the soffit.
Step 3 – Check for Ceiling Level
If the ceiling is level then go to the next step. Make sure it doesn’t vary more than ¼-inch each 4 feet or adjustments will need to be made during installation.
Step 4 – Frame It
Build 2 small L-shaped frames from the 2x4s using a pair of saw horses and a circular saw. You need to cut four 2x4s to fit the overall soffit length.
Cut 6 vertical pieces at the desired height. Attach the verticals to the horizontal lengths to create a small wall using the framing nails.
Step 5 – End Caps
If the entire length of the soffit allows it to butt against the adjoining walls, you won't need any end caps. Measure the outside opening ends to cut 2 pieces of ¼-inch plywood board, and then attach each using framing nails.
Step 6 – Soffit Walls
Cover the soffit frame with ½-inch drywall using an electric screwdriver with drywall screws. Sand all cut drywall edges smooth.
Step 7 – Paint and Finish
Paint the walls of the newly created soffit, allowing adequate dry time before installation.
Step 8 – Hang the Soffit
Get a couple of helpers to hold the completed soffit in place. Nail it to the ceiling joists and wall studs.
Make sure to square off the two separate soffit units by using a measuring square. Adjust carefully so the two units will line up correctly.
Tips to Consider
- Build the frame making sure verticals are 16 inches on center.
- Use #12 resin-coated nails to prevent the wood from splitting.
- The soffit bottom should always be level even if your ceiling isn’t, especially when kitchen cabinets will be installed underneath.
- Always exercise proper safety procedures, like wearing protective eye goggles and gloves.