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Do Kitchen Cabinets Go on Top of Flooring

The choice depends on flooring type, design goals, and installation plans. Both methods have pros and cons, tailored to individual preferences.

Table of Contents

When planning a kitchen remodel or building a new kitchen, one of the key questions that arises is whether kitchen cabinets should be installed on top of the flooring or if the flooring should extend all the way under the cabinets.

do kitchen cabinets go on top of flooring

Understanding the Basics

Let’s start with the basics. When deciding if kitchen cabinets should sit on the flooring, think about a few key things.

  • What type of floor do you have?
  • How will you install it?
  • What do you want your kitchen to look like
  • How do you want it to work?

These points help decide if cabinets go on top of the flooring.

When planning your kitchen, the type of flooring you choose plays a crucial role, especially when it comes to installing kitchen cabinets. Let’s dive deeper into the two main categories of flooring: floating floors and stationary floors, and understand their implications for your kitchen design.

What type of floor do you have?

Floating Floors

Definition and Characteristics: Floating floors, such as laminate, luxury vinyl plank (LVP), and engineered hardwood, are designed for easy installation. They sit on top of the subfloor and are not directly attached by glue or nails. This design allows them to expand and contract with changes in humidity and temperature, which can help prevent warping and other damage.

Installation Considerations:

  • Why Caution is Advised: Installing floating floors under kitchen cabinets is generally not recommended. The reason? Cabinets can weigh down the flooring, preventing it from moving freely. This lack of movement can lead to problems such as gaps between the flooring planks or buckling, where the floor starts to lift off the subfloor.
  • Best Practices: To avoid these issues, it’s often suggested to install floating floors around the cabinets. This method ensures that the flooring can expand and contract without being obstructed, maintaining its integrity and appearance over time.

Stationary Floors

Definition and Characteristics: Stationary floors encompass materials like solid hardwood, tile, and bamboo. These floors are permanently affixed to the subfloor using glue or nails, making them stable and immovable. This stability is crucial for areas that receive a lot of foot traffic or under heavy furniture and fixtures, like kitchen cabinets.

Installation Considerations:

  • Compatibility with Cabinets: Unlike floating floors, stationary floors can safely go under kitchen cabinets. Since these materials are securely attached to the subfloor, they don’t need to move for expansion and contraction. This characteristic makes them ideal for supporting the weight of kitchen cabinets without risking damage to the flooring.
  • Advantages: Installing stationary flooring before the cabinets can provide a seamless look throughout the kitchen. It also offers the flexibility to change cabinet configurations in the future without worrying about gaps in the flooring.

Installation Order: Cabinets or Flooring First?

Cabinet vs Floor Which install first

Deciding whether to install cabinets or flooring first is a big decision. Here’s a deeper look at the pros and cons of each approach.

Cabinets First

Advantages:

  • Saves Money: By installing cabinets first, you’re not spending on flooring that will just be hidden underneath them. This can cut down on your overall material costs.
  • Less Risk of Damage: Putting in cabinets before the flooring means there’s less chance of scratching or damaging your new floors during the cabinet installation.

Disadvantages:

  • Limits Future Changes: If you decide to change your kitchen’s layout later on, you might find areas without flooring under the cabinets. This can be a hassle and might limit your remodeling options.
  • Footprint Locked In: Once your cabinets are in, their footprint is set. If you want to change the flooring later, you’ll have to work around the cabinets, which can be tricky.

Flooring First

Advantages:

  • Uniform Look: Installing the flooring across the entire kitchen first means you’ll have a consistent look and feel underfoot. This is especially nice in open floor plans or if you plan to change the kitchen layout down the road.
  • Flexibility for Future Remodels: With flooring already extending under the cabinets, it’s easier to change things up later without worrying about gaps in the flooring.

Disadvantages:

  • Higher Costs: You might end up using more flooring material than necessary, especially under areas where cabinets and appliances will go. This can increase your project’s cost.
  • Potential for Damage: There’s a risk that installing cabinets on top of your new flooring could lead to scratches, dents, or other damage. You’ll need to be extra careful during the cabinet installation.

Special Considerations

When you’re deciding if cabinets should go on top of the flooring, there are a couple of extra things to think about:

Height Adjustments

  • What Happens? The order you install things can change how high your countertops end up. If you put the flooring down first, everything else gets a bit higher.
  • Why It Matters: This change in height can affect how comfortable and practical your kitchen is to use. You might need to adjust things to make sure your kitchen works well and feels right.

Appliance Fit

  • What to Look Out For: Appliances like dishwashers and ovens that go under the counter need special attention. Their height matters a lot.
  • The Flooring Effect: The type of floor you choose and when you install it can make these appliances too tall or too short to fit right under the countertops. You might need to tweak things a bit to get a perfect fit.

In short, these details are important for making sure your kitchen not only looks good but is also easy and comfortable to use.

Conclusion

Choosing if kitchen cabinets should sit on top of the flooring isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. It really boils down to what kind of floor you’re using, how you want your kitchen to look and work, and how you plan to install everything. Plus, think about what might happen if you decide to change things up later. Both putting cabinets on the flooring and installing flooring first have their upsides and things to watch out for. The right choice changes from one kitchen to another, based on what you need and like. So, weigh your options carefully to make the best decision for your kitchen’s design and functionality.

FAQs Related to Cabinets or Flooring

Is it better to put flooring under kitchen cabinets?

It depends on several factors, including the type of flooring and future remodeling plans. While putting flooring under cabinets can create a uniform look and make future remodels easier, it may also increase costs and the risk of damage to the flooring during cabinet installation. For floating floors, it’s generally advised not to install them under cabinets to allow for necessary expansion and contraction.

Do kitchen floors go before or after cabinets?

The decision to install kitchen floors before or after cabinets largely depends on the flooring type and personal preference. Installing cabinets first can save on flooring costs and minimize the risk of floor damage. However, installing flooring first ensures a consistent flooring surface throughout the kitchen, which can be beneficial for open floor plans or future layout changes.

Do kitchen cabinets sit on bare flooring or finished floor?

Kitchen cabinets can sit on either bare subflooring or finished flooring, depending on the installation approach chosen. If cabinets are installed first, they sit on the bare subfloor. If the flooring is installed first, cabinets can sit on the finished floor. The choice should consider the type of flooring, installation ease, and potential for future changes.

Do kitchen cabinets go on top of hardwood flooring?

Yes, kitchen cabinets can go on top of hardwood flooring. Hardwood is a stationary floor that is glued or nailed down, making it stable enough to support the weight of kitchen cabinets. This approach allows for a seamless look and the flexibility to change cabinet configurations without flooring gaps.

Should laminate flooring go before or after kitchen?

Laminate flooring, a type of floating floor, is typically installed after the kitchen cabinets are in place. This prevents the weight of the cabinets from restricting the laminate’s ability to expand and contract, which could lead to flooring issues like gaps and buckling. However, installing laminate before the cabinets is possible if you prefer a uniform flooring look beneath your cabinets and appliances, with careful consideration to allow for movement.

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