Do cabinets need a solid base? Flooring or subfloor first?

When it comes to installing cabinets and flooring, it’s essential to prioritize the order in which they’re installed. To answer the question directly, cabinets are installed after the subfloor and underlayment, but before the final flooring or finish. Here are some details about this process: • Subfloor and underlayment: The subfloor is the layer underneath your flooring, while the underlayment sits on top of it. These layers provide stability and support for your floor and help to prevent moisture from seeping through. • Cabinets: Once the subfloor and underlayment are in place, it’s time to install the cabinets. This will ensure they are at the correct height and level with the rest of the room. • Flooring or finish: With the cabinets in position, it’s now time to install the final flooring or finish. This will be cut to fit tightly against the cabinets, leaving a small gap that can be filled with baseboard or shoe molding. • Baseboard or shoe molding: To finish the look and ensure a smooth transition between your cabinets and flooring, it’s important to add baseboard or shoe molding around the base of the cabinets. This will cover any gaps and protect against dust and debris collecting in hard-to-reach areas.
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By following these steps, you can ensure a seamless and professional-looking installation of your cabinets and flooring. So, make sure to prioritize the order and don’t rush through the process.

Proper Placement of Cabinets: Above or Below Flooring?

When undertaking a kitchen or bathroom remodeling project, homeowners often wonder whether the cabinets should be installed above or below the flooring. The answer, in the majority of cases, is that the cabinets are put in prior to the floor covering, but they are installed after the subfloor and the underlayment. This ensures that the flooring is cut to fit snugly against the cabinets, leaving only a small gap that can be filled with baseboard or shoe molding.

Reasoning for Installing Cabinets Before Flooring

The primary reason for installing cabinets before flooring is to avoid unsightly gaps between the cabinets and the flooring. When the cabinets are installed first, the flooring can be cut precisely to fit around the cabinets, ensuring a seamless and professional-looking finish. Additionally, installing the cabinets first provides a solid base for the flooring to be installed on, helping to prevent any potential damage to the new flooring.

Preparing the Subfloor and Underlayment

Before installing the cabinets, it is important to ensure that the subfloor and underlayment are properly prepared. The subfloor should be level and free of any debris or irregularities that could cause the cabinets to sit unevenly. The underlayment should be installed over the subfloor, providing a stable and level surface for the cabinets to be installed on.
  • Check the subfloor for any squeaks or dips and address those issues before moving forward.
  • Choose an underlayment that is appropriate for the type of flooring being installed.
  • Familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and follow them carefully.
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Filling the Gap Between Flooring and Cabinets

Once the cabinets are installed, there may be a small gap between the bottom of the cabinets and the flooring. This gap can be filled with baseboard or shoe molding, which should be nailed to the lower part of the base cabinet with finishing nails. This not only provides a finished look to the space, but also helps to prevent any debris or pests from getting underneath the cabinets. Pro tip: Choose a baseboard or shoe molding that matches the color and style of the cabinets and flooring for a cohesive look.

Utilizing Baseboard or Shoe Molding with Base Cabinets

Installing baseboard or shoe molding is especially important when base cabinets are involved, as these cabinets sit directly on the floor. Without the added molding, there may be a noticeable gap between the cabinet and the flooring, which can detract from the overall appearance of the space. The molding should be installed flush with the bottom of the cabinet and should have a smooth, finished edge.

Exceptions to Installing Cabinets before Flooring

While the majority of projects will benefit from installing cabinets before flooring, there may be some exceptions. In some cases, it may be more practical to install the flooring first, such as when dealing with an uneven or damaged subfloor. Additionally, if the cabinets are being replaced in an existing space, leaving the old flooring in place and installing the cabinets on top may be the most cost-effective option.

Professional Considerations for Cabinet and Flooring Installation

Unless you are a seasoned DIYer, it may be best to leave cabinet and flooring installation to the professionals. A skilled contractor can not only ensure that the cabinets are installed correctly before the flooring, but can also provide expert advice on the best materials and techniques to use, saving time and money in the long run. When choosing a contractor, be sure to check their references and portfolio to ensure that they have the experience and expertise necessary to complete a successful project.

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