What Goes In First Kitchen Cabinets Or Flooring

Can Kitchen Cabinets Be Installed Before The Flooring

Installing new cabinets and redoing the flooring of a kitchen needs careful and proper planning, even if you are a seasoned contractor or attempting to give your kitchen a makeover yourself. A small mistake can cost you to redo everything if you do not know which goes first, the flooring or kitchen cabinets.

Kitchen flooring goes in before the cabinets are installed. Kitchen cabinets are manufactured with set specifications, and installing the floor after ward shortens the height of the cabinet. Installing the kitchen flooring after the cabinets causes removal issues with dishwashers and appliances.

The standard practice when installing kitchen cabinets is to do it after the flooring installation is complete. It may seem that it does not matter if the kitchen cabinets are installed first, but it will cause a problem with kitchen appliances unless you are informed regarding the sequence and process.

Why Are Kitchen Cabinets Installed After The Flooring?

If it is time for a new kitchen and you decide to change the flooring and the cabinets simultaneously, you need to consider a few factors. Remodeling your kitchen is a great idea if you want a change, but you must follow the right steps to avoid a disaster.

The main reason that most people want to do the kitchen flooring after the cabinets is that they do not want any damage to the new floor when the cabinets are installed. A lot goes on in a kitchen when the cabinets are installed with tools constantly placed on your brand-new flooring. Protecting the new floor is a legitimate concern, but there are reasons why it is installed first.

Kitchen cabinets are built with a standard height of 34.5inches, and when installed on a base surface, there will be a height difference between the flooring and the top of the kitchen cabinet. The new flooring is installed on top of the base surface and decreases the length between the top of the cabinet and the tiles or new flooring you installed.

If you create a space for your dishwasher to slide in and out and it needs replacing or fixing, you will find installing the floor afterward that your dishwasher does not fit. A standard cabinet is a half inch higher than a dishwasher so that it fits neatly without any extra space on top for dirt to collect. Because the flooring is done afterward, it shortens that space so the dishwasher won’t go into its place.

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Another issue you will encounter if you do the flooring after the kitchen cabinets are installed is that sometimes the dishwasher is installed inside the cabinet before the flooring is done. If the dishwasher is removed at any time because it needs to be replaced or fixed, the higher floor will prevent it from coming out.

Can Kitchen Cabinets Be Installed Before The Flooring?

Many people remodeling their kitchen have different beliefs about the schedule and installation sequence, and there are two main reasons why someone wants to install the cabinets first. The first reason is to save money by only running the flooring to the front of the cabinet, and the second is when you use prefinished wood flooring, installers and tradesman may damage the floor.

Saving money installing the flooring up to the cabinets is not a big save, and it will cost the same, if not more, after the extra work is done to make them the correct height. The second reason is that the floor can damage, but professional installers must use blankets and shoe protectors inside your house to prevent it from damaging.

Cabinets for your kitchen can be installed before the flooring, although generally, it is recommended not to set it directly on the subfloor. If you decide to install the cabinets before the flooring, some adjustments need to be made to the cabinets before it is installed.

If you run your finished flooring right to the front of the cabinet, it removes three-quarters of an inch to one inch of height, depending on what flooring thickness you pick.

To overcome this problem, you must attach blocks the same height as your flooring to the bottom of all your base cabinets. These blocks on the bottom of the base cabinets will add tothe cabinet’s height. Adding the blocks gives you a consistent countertop height from a finished floor, and appliances like your dishwasher will easily go in and out from under the countertop.

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It does not matter what material you use as flooring; installing the cabinets first will not affect the height if done correctly. If you decide not to add blocks to counter the height lost with the flooring done afterward, it could be costly to fix and a hassle to deal with if you must remove or install a dishwasher or other kitchen appliance.

If you do not want to replace your doors learn more in What Is The Difference Between Refacing And Resurfacing Cabinets?

What Flooring Cannot Be Installed Under Kitchen Cabinets?

There are certain flooring placed after the kitchen cabinets are installed. These kinds of flooring must be measured so that the kitchen base cabinets can be lifted with blocks the thickness of the flooring to counter the height difference of a standard cabinet.

If you install click-lock vinyl plank flooring in your kitchen, do not install it under the base cabinets. Click-lock vinyl flooring float on the subfloor and connects solely by its locking system.

Click-lock vinyl plank flooring expands and contracts when the temperature changes, and it needs space to move and prevent damage to the floor. Heavy kitchen cabinets will prevent the expansion and contraction of the floor and cause the flooring to buckle and brake its locking system.

If you consider click-lock vinyl plank flooring or a similar product, seek advice from the manufacturer or an informed trade professional who knows the product before you install your kitchen cabinets.


You only install kitchen cabinets before the flooring in rare cases, such as with click-lock vinyl plank flooring. If kitchen cabinets are installed before the flooring, the height difference caused by the thickness of the flooring is added to the bottom of the base cabinets to counter the difference. Kitchen cabinets are installed after the flooring to avoid appliance removal and installation problems.

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