Cabinets first or flooring first?

31 Replies

I am working on one of my rentals and need to do the flooring and the kitchen cabinets. I am thinking vinyl planks for flooring, ones which glue, not the floating ones. What do you put first - cabinets or flooring? I think its cleaner if I get the flooring complete and put cabinets on it but I have never worked with vinyl planks before. Any advise from experienced members here would be helpful. Thanks!

When I did mine I put the cabinets in first.  You save yourself some square feet of flooring.

We did a tile floor and pulled the base cabinets out for that.

I would think it easier to do the flooring first if that's an option @Mona Verma Less cuts and fewer chances for mistakes and gaps!

Cabinets first. Then the flooring 

Thanks all for your inputs. Cabinets first would save some sq ft cost, is there any other reason to go in with cabinets first for glued vinyl planks?

Flooring first if you can. Especially if it is Vinyl. It will contain any potential leaks from a sink drain, dishwasher or fridge. It will alert a tenant to a leak by pooling water rather than letting the sub-floor absorb it.

If your using glue down do flooring first. You will be stuck to the same footprint if you do cabinets first. It will also effect your appliance heights. Exception would be floating floors, the weight of the cabinets could prevent them from expanding and contracting and could buckle them.

It would appear that I am wrong if it is floating vinyl- that it should not be placed under the cabinets... though there are many installers that say they install on top and it doesn't become an issue unless there are huge swings in humidity/temp...

I am about to lay some down, so we shall see ;)

If your unit is going to have a dishwasher it can be tricky to pull them in and out if your flooring does not go u set everything.

*does not go under everything.

@Mona Verma Definitely flooring first, as you don't save a ton of money from the extra footage left. Remember, the flooring comes in packs anyways.

On our recent project, we realized that it wasn't worth the effort from a cost perspective and definitely from a design angle. Also, our projects are typically high-end finishes. 

Hope this helps. Goodluck. Thanks! - Ola

@Mona Verma I like to do flooring first. It saves on install time and then you don't have a tile edge exposed where it meets the cabinet. I have seen flooring peel up by a cabinet if water gets in there, but that won't happen if the tile goes under the cabinet.

The advantages of cabinets first are less tile used and would be easier to replace a tile. If a tile gets damaged and half of it is under the cabinet, you need to cut it with a utility knife to replace. No big deal, but would be an extra step.

When you're tiling, it's tile first, then cabinets.  Two reasons:

1.  Overall cleaner look (and tile is cheap)

2.  Saves you from having to wrestle a dishwasher out from under a cabinet with a lip up to the tile.  

When you're putting in plank flooring, it's cabinets first, then flooring.  One major reason:

A.  When you have the inevitable kitchen leak and your flooring gets wet and warps, you don't have to remove the cabinets to get at the warped and damaged flooring to replace it.  Yes, I know - you're getting the stuff that claims not to warp.  Most of it does.  The only plank flooring I've worked with so far that got completely soaked and had no issues is Adura.  It's a little pricier, but the 99 cent Home Depot special - it ain't so special when it's waterlogged.

I always go flooring first.

@Mona Verma at the risk of adding more confusion to the volley of opinions - 

Personally, I'd suggest doing cabinets first no matter what type of flooring you're using. Any sort of floating floor needs to be able to move (expand/contract), even solid flooring is sooo much easier to deal with if it's not run in underneath cabinets. Typically flooring needs updated/repaired before cabinets.

Doing flooring first IME, is a DIY shortsighted hack. I've remodeled too many kitchens and have had to deal with flooring under cabinets that I've had to change...to me it's not worth it. Even the costs savings don't make up for the headaches down the road. 

@Mona Verma Cabinets first (unless you need subflooring). Though you may need to do cutting around the cabinets when installed, you may end up needing less material. :) 

Cabinets first for flooring that will likely need to be replaced before the cabinets, like vinyl plank.  On our last remodel, we put wood-look tile first, then cabinets as we expect the tile to last as long or longer than the cabinets.  

It doesn't really matter, IMO.

@Lynn M. hit it on the head, it depends on what you expect the future to look like.

The only thing you should definitely not do, is install the cabinets first on top of the sub-floor, without adding a layer of underlay to match the height of the finished floor (or very close). 

Cabinet first people, how are you addressing the height difference? The flooring she's talking about will add 3/8 - 5/8 inches worth of height from her subfloor. So say I installed cabinets on subflooring, butted my flooring to kick plate of cabinets, dropped my dishwasher into place, the put a countertop on. How you getting that dishwasher out? You're not without ripping the countertop back off or ripping out 48" worth of flooring.

I'll run with it a different way. Installed cabinets on subflooring, ran vinyl planking where the dishwasher will sit, put the countertop on...slid the dishwasher in? Yeah you're not getting that dishwasher in because the countertop are too low.

No one has mentioned shimming their cabinets with plywood to match the differences in height, this would work but would add work.

Floors first for what she is doing. Plus it's a rental so she plans on holding it for some amount of time, if she wants to re arrange the footprint in the future before she sells she can.

I like to start at the top and work my way down. So cabinets then floor. 

Cameron Whitehead, Real Estate Agent in Texas (#667268)
512-800-3230

I had to ask my contractor friend who focus on floors. He told me that wood floors it’s a bad idea to do floors all the way through. Cabinet base first otherwise you floors will squish under the cabinet weight.

I have only ever done tile or hardwood, but have done both floor first and put floor in without removing cabinets. Always prefer floor first. Never had my hardwood floor guy note the floor will squish under the cabinets. I imagine there might be furniture on feet that weigh as much as a cabinet/counter. The counter height with dishwashers is one reason, also makes the floor install easier. I prefer easier install verse the possible saving on material.

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