What Goes in First: Kitchen Cabinets or Flooring? Find out Now!

When it comes to renovating or building your dream kitchen, figuring out the order of installation can feel overwhelming. One common question that often arises is whether to install kitchen cabinets or flooring first. Based on industry standards and best practices, in most cases, the cabinets are installed before the flooring. Here is why:
  • Installation of subfloor and underlayment: Before cabinets or flooring can be installed, a proper subfloor must be in place. This means that the flooring material will be laid over the subfloor, which is made of wood or concrete. Additionally, an underlayment may be installed, especially if the chosen flooring material requires it, such as vinyl or laminate.
  • Cabinet placement: With the subfloor and underlayment in place, it is now time for the cabinets to be installed. This is done first to ensure that the cabinets are level and secure, as well as to ensure that they fit properly in the space. It is recommended that a professional installer is hired for this step to guarantee an accurate installation.
  • Flooring installation: After the cabinets are securely in place, it is time to install the flooring. The flooring material is cut to fit around the cabinets, leaving a small gap for expansion and contraction due to changes in humidity and temperature. Once the flooring is laid, the gap is covered by installing baseboards or shoe molding along the lower edge of the base cabinets.
  • By installing the kitchen cabinets before the flooring, you can avoid any potential damage that may occur when installing the cabinets on top of the flooring which could result in possible scratches, dings, or other damages to the new flooring. Ultimately, this method produces a more polished and professional look for your kitchen. Keep in mind that every kitchen installation is unique, so it is always recommended to consult with a trusted professional contractor to determine the best order of installation for your specific project.
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    The Importance of Proper Installation Sequence

    The proper installation sequence of kitchen cabinets and flooring can be a question that arises during a renovation or new construction project. Getting the sequence right is critical, as it can affect the overall look and feel of the room. Installing kitchen cabinets before flooring has been a standard practice for many years, and there are good reasons for it. As cabinets are an essential and permanent component of the kitchen, ensuring they are correctly installed is crucial. Any mistakes in positioning, leveling, or securing can cause issues that will require significant effort to remedy later on. Therefore, it is best to put this element in place before any other installations take place. When renovating or building a kitchen, it is always best to prepare a sequence plan that considers all possible variables. It is essential to select the right order to ensure the job runs smoothly, efficiently, and without any significant hiccups.

    Installing Subfloor and Underlayment First

    Before installing the kitchen cabinets, subflooring and underlayment must be put in place. The subfloor refers to the foundation layer upon which all other layers will sit, while the underlayment is a layer of thin material installed on top of the subfloor that provides a smooth surface for the final finish. It is essential to ensure that both the subfloor and underlayment are properly installed and leveled before any other installations occur. The cabinets must sit on a stable and level surface to maintain their structural integrity. Any gaps or unevenness will lead to wobbling cabinets or drawers, which is not only inconvenient but can also pose a safety hazard.
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    Flooring Cut to Fit Against Cabinets

    After the subfloor and underlayment are in place, the flooring or finish is then installed. The material used for the flooring is cut to fit against the cabinets, leaving a small, insignificant gap between the two. This gap is essential as it allows for expansion and contraction of the wood or other flooring material due to variations in moisture and temperature. Tip: Be sure to choose the right base material according to the type of flooring chosen.

    Filling the Gap Between Cabinets and Flooring

    Once the flooring has been cut and installed, there will still be a small gap between the edge of the cabinets and the flooring material. To fill this gap, baseboards or shoe moldings are attached to the bottom of the base cabinet. It not only enhances the aesthetics of the kitchen by hiding the gap between the cabinets and the flooring but also protects the cabinets from water and dirt. Tip: Baseboards come in different lengths, styles, and materials, so choose one that complements the overall design of the kitchen.

    Nailing Baseboard or Shoe Molding

    Once the baseboard or shoe molding has been selected, it is nailed to the base cabinet using finishing nails. The process of attaching the molding is relatively simple, requiring only a nail gun and a level to ensure it is straight. Tip: Use adhesive caulking in conjunction with the finishing nails for added stability.

    Exceptions to the Rule: When to Install Flooring First

    While it is standard practice to install kitchen cabinets before the flooring, it is not always the case. Certain situations may require flooring to be installed first, such as when using natural stone or tiles that require a specific pattern or design.
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    In such cases, working closely with the contractor or installer is essential to ensure the proper order of installation. By doing so, the design and installation sequence will ensure the best possible outcome and a satisfied homeowner. In summary, installing kitchen cabinets before flooring is the standard practice. It ensures a smooth and level surface and a stable base for the installation of cabinets. However, exceptions exist where flooring must be put in place first, as in the case of specific natural stone or tile designs. In all circumstances, proper planning and installation sequencing are essential for a successful and visually appealing outcome.

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