I am remodeling my kitchen and took down all the drywall and took off all the soffits/bulkheads. I had a plumber shift the pipes up to make room for 36" cabinets. Question: do I need to frame/drywall new soffits, or can I just install the cabinets and then trim out the top of the cabinets with crown/casing to close that space (which is full of wires and PEX plumbing). Is there any any benefit to closing in that area first with 2x3 framing and drywall, and then installing the cabinets right up to it?

Update: were these soffits unnecessary? enter image description here

  • It's unclear what you're saying about wires and pipes. Are they exposed on the face of the wall? In some cases wires need to be enclosed for protection. Photos would be great.
    – isherwood
    Feb 3 '21 at 15:24
  • The wires require cover but the plumbing can be left open I think this is what the op wants. I thought the plumbing required cover but work with one plumber that specializes in fancy heated towel racks in the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry utilizing a recirculating loop on the hot water. Really pretty when it’s new and the clear coat is intact, not sure how it will look in a few years.
    – Ed Beal
    Feb 3 '21 at 20:25

Do I have to have soffits?


You can leave the mechanicals exposed. If they're hidden enough by the new, taller cabinets, nobody will know. If they're not hidden, people will know and whether you care or not is up to you.

If you're going to trim out the space above the cabinets, some sort of soffit framing will be very useful for attaching your trim and moldings to. You could, however, work out a system of attachment (possibly with pocket hole screws) that doesn't require attaching the trim to any sort of framing material, but it will probably be more work to do so than it would be to frame out with 2x2 or 2x3 and attach the trim to that.

If the soffit framing is going to be totally hidden behind wooden trim, I see no reason to drywall it. Simply build the soffit to the point where your finish trim will be at the level you want it to be then trim over it. There's no requirement for drywall between the layers of wood (or other trim material).


No... but in in your case kind of.

No there isn't a requirement of course because lots - maybe most - kitchens do not have soffits. However yours includes electrical, a plumbing manifold, and a duct nearby.

Sure you can get rid of it but it will be ridiculously expensive unless you feel going soffit free is worth 3-5k (maybe more).

Also I want to point out that if your cabinets run all the way up to those soffits there is absolutely no use having that little of space exposed. It will just be an ugly dust trap. You leave cabinets open on top when you can set something on them. Not sure I have seen a lot of kitchen with 10" of open space above them.

  • those are the new soffits i built and installed for about $50 (old soffit was made for 30 inch cabinets). I dont have the cabinets yet i want to install i just know i made this soffit high enough to accommodate 36 inch cabinets and i made the soffit about 11 inch deep. I just wasnt sure if that was a waste of time and i couldve just installed the cabinets and then closed up the gap with trim (so none of the mechanicals would be visible)
    – Chris
    Feb 6 '21 at 5:01
  • @Chris - you have a ton of plumbing there. I don't see what you are saying that it an option. The soffit can be smaller - to fit your plumbing and electric but there has to be something there.
    – DMoore
    Feb 6 '21 at 18:18

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