In 1967, Hermann Miller designed the first cubicle to provide more privacy for workers, making it easier for them to focus than it was in an open, chaotic working environment. Cubicles took off over the following decades and became a staple of most American office spaces. While cubicles today provide that same much-needed privacy for employees, they have come a long way in their design — well, some have.
Some cubicles are still a challenge to put together, while the design of more innovative cubicle systems enables them to come together more quickly. If you’re wondering how to assemble cubicles, we’re going to go over some basic cubicle installation instructions to help you get started. In addition to traditional cubicles, we’ll also look at how to put together Sunline cubicles — a sliding cubicle system that’s much easier to assemble than standard workspaces.
How to Assemble Traditional Office Cubicles
Traditional office cubicles come together through a fairly involved process. The exact steps may look different depending on the specific brand and model of cubicles you have selected. Depending on the layout you’re creating, you’ll need the following types of panel connectors to bring your cubicle panels together:
- Straight panel connectors
- T-shaped connectors
- Corner connectors
- Four-way connectors, also called star or X-connectors
In addition to the cubicle panels themselves, you’ll likely also need the following tools on hand to put them together:
- Allen wrench
- Phillips-head screwdriver
- Flathead screwdriver
- Power drill
- Tape measure
- Rubber mallet or hammer
- Magnetic torpedo level
Now, let’s look at how to install cubicles. There are 10 essential steps you’ll need to work through.
- Check your design plan: Before you get started with assembly, make sure you have all your materials ready to go and that you know exactly what configuration you are aiming to create. You also want to know that the design you have planned will fit into the available space, so don’t be afraid to get out your tape measure.
- Assemble panels: In some cases, your first task will be to put together the panels you’ll use to create your cubicle. This step typically entails connecting metal frame pieces to flat pieces of material that form the walls or windows of your cubicle.
- Install straight connectors: Connector plates attach along the vertical edge of a panel and are what allow you to connect panels. The panels should have grooves for the connectors to fit into. With most cubicles, you’ll need to screw connector pieces into place on the edge of one panel, then lock your other panel into place using the connector. Start by using straight connectors to attach panels you’re joining side by side to form a longer wall.
- Add other connectors: Next, move onto creating connections that involve 90-degree angles. The type of connector you use in these instances will depend on whether you’re creating corners, T-shaped intersections or four-way intersections of panels. Choose the appropriate connector pieces and screw them into place before using them to connect panels to form the cubicle layout you’ve planned.
- Cap off exposed edges: Once all your panels are in place, you’ll want to cover unfinished edges that are showing. Use end trim pieces to cover the exposed vertical edges on panels and kickplates to cover the bottom edges of panels. Finally, use end caps to create a polished finish for the bottom corner where the vertical edge piece and kickplate come together.
- Arrange wiring: The wiring system you use to power electronics in your cubicles will depend on whether you have panels with raceways that contain electrical wires or whether you need to use extension cords under the panels, so each worker has a power strip to connect their electronics to. Whatever method you’ll use to provide electrical power to your cubicles, now is the time to get that sorted before moving on.
- Install storage options: If your cubicle system includes overhead storage or file cabinets, install these accessories next. The way you attach overhead storage containers to your cubicle will depend on your specific cubicle model. Typically, you’ll use cantilevers, pieces that affix to the wall and protrude out, to hold the accessories. Filing cabinets can likely sit wherever you want to place them.
- Install countertop: Next, space out cantilevers and screw them into place along your panels so they can support a countertop. Once the cantilevers are in place, you should be able to set your counter pieces down on top of them before screwing the cantilevers and any other necessary connector pieces to the bottom of the counter.
- Add accessories: Next, add any extra touches you want in your cubicles, such as marker boards, tack boards, track lighting or anything else you need to fully equip your cubicles to get them ready for your employees.
- Invite employees in: Finally, wipe down surfaces to ensure your cubicles and the workspaces they contain are clean. Then, you can allow employees to move their possessions into the cubicles and get working.
How to Assemble Sunline Cubicles
Now, let’s look at Sunline cubicle installation instructions. When it comes to assembling this brand of cubicle, the process is much more straightforward. The only tools you’ll likely need are a level and a small drill along with just a handful of screws. You can watch a video tutorial that will break down the process even further, but we can boil it down into eight steps.
- Verify the installation plan: As with traditional cubicle installations, you’ll want to start by making sure you have a solid strategy in place for your cubicle layout. Verify that your design will fit well into your office space by taking measurements. Then, you can get started with the assembly process.
- Lubricate posts: Next, use the provided wipes to lubricate the grooves inside each post in preparation for sliding in the panel sections. This step will make the assembly go even more smoothly.
- Assemble the first panel: Start with a corner post and slide the first bottom panel into place. You may also want to include a raceway here. Then, you can slide a post onto the other side, most likely a two-way post to connect panels horizontally. Now, you can slide sections down to fill out your first panel. Since Sunline cubicles are highly customizable, you can create any configuration you like. You can choose from fabric sections to different heights and colors, clear window sections and raceways.
- Assemble your remaining panels: Now, you can stand up the next post and slide in more panels. Each time you come to a corner, make sure you use the correct connector post to create a two-sided corner, a T-intersection or a four-way intersection of panels.
- Install file cabinet and check height: Once you have all your panels assembled in the configuration you want, add your file cabinets. These cabinets are weight-bearing, so they will help support the countertop. Adjust the feet on your posts if needed to ensure the groove at the top of your base panel is even with the top of the file cabinet. This groove is where you will attach cantilevers for added support.
- Install overhead storage cabinets: Now, you can add overhead storage. This step is as simple as clipping the cabinet into the groove on the top panel. You’ll likely want to use some self-tapping screws to hold the cabinet to the panel more securely. If your cubicle butts up against a wall, use pole legs instead of cantilevers to support the weight of your cabinet.
- Add work surfaces: Now, it’s time to add the cantilevers and clips to support your work surface. Since you already checked the height of your panels to ensure the groove for your supports matches up with the tops of your file cabinets, this part should be a snap. Then, place the countertop on the supports and secure them underneath by screwing in flat metal plates.
- Invite employees in: Invite your employees to check out their new Sunline cubicles and personalize their work areas with plants, photos and other decorations.
Advantages of Assembling Sunline Cubicles Over Traditional Cubicles
1. Faster Installation
2. Fewer Tools
3. Lower Installation Costs
4. Complete Flexibility
Cubicle Assembly Tips and Recommendations
Now that we’ve covered the basics of cubicle assembly and some of the advantages of Sunline cubicles over standard ones, let’s go over a few of our recommendations to make your assembly a breeze.
- Wash your hands: Our first tip is to start with clean hands or use gloves to ensure you keep the cubicle panels clean.
- Read your manual: Since all cubicles come together a bit differently, make sure you read the manual for your cubicle system carefully and follow those exact instructions.
- Have a plan: You can make changes if needed as you go, but you always want to start with a detailed plan for your cubicle layout. As we mentioned, measure to make sure this plan works for your space.
- Grab a buddy: If you’re installing cubicles yourself, make sure you have another person to help you hold onto pieces and balance them as you connect them.
- Expect a learning curve: As with many things, assembling cubicles involves a learning curve, so be patient in the beginning and expect installation to go faster once you’ve got the hang of it.
- Use a level: Since some floors are not perfectly level, use a level as you assemble panels to make sure they match up correctly. You can adjust the feet on a panel if needed to raise it or lower it slightly.
- Prioritize safety: When you use a power drill or any other tools, exercise safety, so you don’t injure yourself.
- Hire a professional: The easiest installation option, even for Sunline cubicles, is to leave it to the pros.
As we’ve seen, there’s a lot that goes into assembling cubicles — especially traditional ones. Sunline cubicles are much more intuitive to put together, but you’ll still need to follow the steps above to ensure the various pieces come together correctly. When you want to outfit your office space with cubicles, but you’d prefer to have them installed professionally, Arnold’s can help.