Kitchen Renovation Tips

What comes first flooring or cabinets?

Consider this familiar scenario: You are doing a full-scale, rip-down remodel of your kitchen where everything comes out and gets replaced, including walls, cabinets, flooring, and appliances. After the demo, it’s time to put in new flooring and cabinets. 

It’s a big undertaking, so you want to follow all the right steps to ensure the final results match your original design vision. In the pursuit to create the ideal kitchen, you may be wondering whether to install floors or cabinets first during a kitchen renovation. So which should be installed first—cabinets or flooring? Hitch Property Constructions has an extensive range of kitchen renovation Melbourne to take the hassle out of deciding the right furniture that matches.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of either order.

Installing Flooring First


Many people like to put in floors first to avoid having to cut the material around cabinets and appliances. This is the main draw for those who start with floors. What’s more, some worry that by installing cabinets first, it will be harder to switch them out in the future, as you’ll be stuck with the same cabinet footprint you had before. However, if you’re remodelling the kitchen, you’re likely doing so in style you won’t want to change later. Finally, putting flooring down beneath base cabinets offers a clean look and saves you from having to install quarter rounds with your cabinets.


Installing the floors under the cabinets, wastes flooring materials. You won’t see the flooring beneath your cabinets and appliances, so why pay for the material and installation? If you replace the flooring at a later date, you’d have to take out the cabinets as well. This makes for a costly renovation down the road for you or future homeowners.

Finally, the material you choose may also affect the order of your installation. Wood floors expand and contract with changing temperature and moisture, and it needs room for this process. Installing floors beneath your cabinets could cause wood to buckle when it tries to expand. This will damage your new floor. For this reason, some experts recommend installing wood floors after you finish your cabinets. Also, floating floors can’t be installed under cabinets because the cabinets will be too heavy and restrict the floor from expanding and contracting. This could cause the floor to come apart.

Cabinets First


Starting with cabinets allows you to avoid many of the issues you’d face with doing things the other way around. You won’t waste time and money on the flooring you won’t see. You’re less likely to damage your new floors by starting with cabinets – if you have your new floors down and add cabinets, you run the risk of scratching or denting them during installation.


By starting with cabinets, you essentially create a footprint you’ll have to stick to during future renovations. Additionally, you’ll have to cut your flooring to fit around the base cabinets, which makes installation more expensive and time-consuming. Built-in appliances will be trapped in place as long as you have this flooring. You’re cornering them with your flooring material, making switching built-ins much harder. Of course, you can purchase appliances that aren’t built in to solve this issue.

As you can see, there are pros and cons in choosing to install floors or cabinets first, though there are more risks if you install floors at the start. For this reason, carefully consider the materials you chose, what appliances you have and your future renovation plans when making a decision. If you’re working with a contractor, ask which method he or she typically uses.

Typically Cabinets Come Before Flooring

In most cases, given standard flooring heights, you will install the cabinets before the floor covering. Floor covering, or finish flooring, is the surface that you see and walk on, not the subfloor (under the underlayment) or underlayment (between the subfloor and finished layer).

Kitchen Renovation Tips

The floor covering will be cut to size and almost butted up against the cabinets. A minimal gap should be left between the flooring and the cabinets. This gap will be covered by baseboard or shoe moulding that is nailed to the bottom of the base cabinets.

There are a couple of advantages to why you may want to stick with the traditional choice of putting in kitchen base cabinets before the floor covering.

You’ll Potentially Use Less Finish Flooring.

Installing kitchen base cabinets before flooring can be a money-saving advantage. For example, most of the costly finished hardwood flooring is usually placed sight unseen underneath the cabinets. Why pay top dollar for imported hardwood that remains hidden? To keep the floor flush, consider installing a different, cheaper type of flooring underneath cabinets and appliances, or even plywood risers.

You’ll Minimize the Height of Flooring.

Sometimes it is not necessary to gut a kitchen and remove the existing cabinets and appliances because they are in acceptable condition. Yet the flooring still needs to be replaced.

Consider installing thin floorings, such as luxury vinyl, laminate, or tile, which are possible to lay right up to the cabinets. The ragged edge of the flooring is then covered over with quarter-round or base moulding. Thicker types of flooring such as solid hardwood present a problem because your cabinet counter may not be the standard height of 34 inches to 36 inches. This issue can be mitigated in two ways:

Use engineered wood flooring rather than solid hardwood. Engineered wood, a “sandwich” of wood veneer on top and high-grade plywood below are slightly thinner than solid hardwood.

Lay the finish flooring straight onto the subfloor with no additional underlayment. An underlayment adds another 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch to the total flooring thickness. Looking for kitchen renovation Melbourne? Look no further? Hitch Property Constructions has you covered.

When To Install Flooring Before Cabinets

If due to design circumstances (for example an odd appliance height or construction anomaly) your total flooring height will need to be elevated and finished higher than normal—two inches or more—consider installing flooring before putting in the kitchen cabinets and appliances. There’s a good reason to do this.

If you were to first install those base cabinets and appliances straight onto the subfloor and then the hardwood flooring around the cabinets and appliances, the height of the cabinets and appliances would be all wrong. For example, it won’t be easy to achieve the correct countertop height of 34 inches to 36 inches if everything is out of alignment. One way to correct this would be to put plywood risers underneath the cabinets and appliances. But the floor covering itself can be the risers, as well.

If you have to install the flooring first, here’s a method that will avoid some of the problems I just described.

  • Put all the base cabinets in place, then mark a line on the subfloor corresponding to the front edge of the toe kick.
  • Remove the cabinets and screw a plywood filler piece to the subfloor about ½ inch inside the line, where it will be under the cabinets. This piece should be at least 2 inches wide and about ⅛ inch thicker than the total thickness of the flooring, including any vapour barrier or cushion.
  • Screw a strip of the same thickness to the floor next to the wall.
  • Now install the new flooring, but keep it about a ¼ inch from the first filler strip.
  • Finally, install the cabinets on both strips and attach the toe kicks. The flooring will be able to expand and contract beneath the toe kick without revealing a gap.

Laminate Flooring or Cabinets First?

If you aren’t installing laminate flooring for any other type of floating floor that is made from a wood-based product, it is better to install the cabinets first. The floating floor allows the pieces to move more freely As they expand and contract. Installing cabinets on top of the floating floor could lead to issues what’s the buckling and gaps because the cabinets can prevent the floating floor from moving freely as it’s intended to do. Check out our range of kitchen renovation at Hitch Property Constructions.

Tile or Cabinets First?

Regardless of whether or not you’re playing to add a tile in the kitchen floor bathroom, one of your first and primary concerns should be the condition of the subfloor. In older homes, the subfloor could be made from 1 x 4 or 1 x 6 planking running diagonally across the floor joists.

1 x 6 plank float subflooring is not an adequate subfloor to install tile on 1 x 6 with a modern subfloor which comes in 3 x 5′ sheets, or you can add subfloor on top of the one by six if the floor heights in your space will allow.

 If you are installing floor tile and a bathroom as part of a larger project that includes wall tile such as a bathroom tub surround or shower it usually makes sense to complete all the tile at the same time.

This eliminates the need for the tile installer to come back twice. Another benefit to installing the tile in the bathroom first is that if you change your mind about the style of the bathroom vanity will be much easier. To change it up in the future and you will not have to replace or change the tile if you don’t want to.

When you’re installing tile floors, it’s important to pay very close attention to the condition of the subfloor because unlike other floors any movement can cost the floor so a weekend in overtime this movement can cause the tiles to come a loose from the sunset and the grout to crack and eventually the tiles may come loose pop-up for.

Do Hardwood Floors Go Under Kitchen Cabinets?

You can install hardwood floors before you install cabinets or you can wait and install them afterwards. Choose to install the hospital floors afterwards. You can’t save a little on materials and labour because you’ll be effectively decreasing the amount of floor that you’re covering with hardwood.

If you install the hardwood floors after the cabinets are installed, you have to be mindful of the dishwasher. In most installations, the dishwasher’s feet sit at the same floor height as the cabinets. In order to accomplish this, you’ll need to add a piece of plywood underneath or inside of the dishwasher opening so the dishwasher can slide into the designated space freely.

If you choose not to install a piece of plywood to level and raise the floor under the dishwasher, you may have issues removing the dishwasher when you need to replace or service it in the future.

How to install hardwood floors around kitchen cabinets?

If you’re installing hardwood floors in an existing kitchen, it is possible to run your hardwood floors up to the base cabinet toe kick. The most difficult part of forming this type of installation is being able to cut close to the toe kick of the base cabinets without damaging the cabin.

Tile to hardwood transitions

When planning a transition from tile floors to hardwood floors, you have to options. The simplest option is to install a threshold that covers the exact location where the tile and hardwood meet each other. The transition usually ends up being slightly higher than the finished floor, but it’s very common. The second option is to install the hardwood floors and tile with a seamless transition.

You need to ensure that your hardwood floors stop in a relatively straight line, so he won’t have too many issues with running your tile up to the edge of the hardwood floors. Metal edging is also commonly used between the hardwood floors and tile.

Be aware that the gap or grout line between the hardwood floors and tile may require some maintenance over the years. The tile and hardwood floors are two different building materials, and they each have different properties.

Because of the hardwood floors or a natural product, they will expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity. This is normal. For this reason, it is best to allow for a small gap between the hardwood floors and the tile floors to allow for expansion and contraction of the hardwood floors while minimally affecting grout of the tile.

Some tile installers choose to grout in this seam. However, it is a better solution to use grout-caulk, which is more elastic and resistant to cracking. Most grout colours come in powder form and tube caulk form, so you should not have a problem matching your normal tile grout.

Install vinyl flooring before or after cabinets

If you’re stalling vinyl flooring in a kitchen or bathroom, it’s much easier to install flooring before installing cabinets for plumbing fixtures like toilets. This is particularly true for sheet products like vinyl and linoleum.

If you choose to wait until after the cabinets are installed, then you must be careful to cut around the perimeter of the base of the cabinet to make sure that your lines are straight. In some cases, you may have to use shoe moulding for around to cover the edges of the vinyl where it meets the base of the cabinets.

How are kitchen cabinets installed?

Kitchen base cabinets are screwed to the wall behind them. Ideally, the cabinets will be secured to a stud to limit their ability to move after installation. Wall cabinets are installed in the same manner; however, with the wall cabinets, it’s more important that you hit a stud since they have to be able to hang from the wall.

How to install a kitchen island

Kitchen islands aren’t typically installed one of two ways. The quickest way to attach the kitchen island to the floor is to screw through the lower portion of The cabinet and directly into the floor. However, this method does require you to trim out the perimeter of the island with some baseball thing to cover the screw holes.

The second and more thorough way to attach the kitchen island to the floor is to first install 2×4 blocks directly to the floor and then place the island cabinets over the two by fours and then screw into the two by fours through cabinets.

The easiest way the easiest location is along the front of the cabinets because you can install the screws through the toe kick and then conceal the screws with a toe kick trim which typically you would do anyway.

Installing a Kitchen Island on Concrete Floor

In order to attach the kitchen island to a concrete floor, you can use either of the methods mentioned just above, but I would recommend the 2×4/toe kick method. For this application, you will need first to drill pilot holes in the concrete and then use concrete screws to attach the 2 x 4 directly to the concrete floor. Then you can use regular wood screws to attach the cabinet to the 2×4 that is now securely anchored to the concrete floor.

So, there are inherent pros and cons to either order of installation. You could deduce that there are more risks in laying flooring down first, but ultimately it’s up to you to weigh the factors and decide what’s best for your project. From the start, carefully choose your materials and appliances and try to determine what your plans for the kitchen will be – do you have another renovation in mind? If you’re working with a contractor, determine if you are on the same page. It’s important that all involved parties share the same goals. With a clear understanding of the circumstances, you are better likely to make the most of your project and be satisfied with your choices.

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