Should You Put Flooring Under Cabinets?

Whether you're remodeling your cabinets and floor or just your floor, you may be wondering whether you should put flooring under the cabinets. Well, we've researched the topic in-depth and have an answer for you.

Some experts say yes to putting flooring under cabinets, whereas others say no. There is no one answer when it comes to whether you should put flooring under cabinets. Instead, there are some factors to consider which may push you one way or the other. Whether you decide to put flooring under cabinets depends on:

  • Whether new cabinets are being installed, it may be easier to install flooring around existing cabinets.
  • The type of flooring you are using. Some types will fair better under cabinets than others. 
  • Cost of materials and labor. Will it save you money in the long run or cost you more?
  • The type of cabinets being used. Can you see underneath them?

So we've given you some things to think about, but you might still be wondering whether installing flooring under cabinets is the right move for you. If so, keep reading as we elaborate on the factors we mentioned above. We'll also answer some additional questions you might have about installing flooring underneath cabinets.

Oak wooden cabinetry inside a white walled kitchen area with unfinished flooring, Should You Put Flooring Under Cabinets?

Putting Flooring Under Cabinets

Aside from the factors we mentioned above and that we're going to elaborate on below, there is no set method to installing flooring with cabinets. Some choose to install the flooring before cabinets, while others prefer to install the flooring last. The latter is most common, and you might understand why by the end of this article.

Interior of an unfinished kitchen with wooden cabinetry and unfinished cabinetry

New or Existing Cabinets

The first factor you should consider before deciding whether to install flooring under cabinets is whether you are installing new cabinets or not.

If you are not replacing your current cabinets, it would be a lot easier and make more sense to install the flooring around the existing cabinets. Though it might be more difficult cutting the edges to fit, it'll still be easier than removing the cabinets.

If you are replacing your cabinets, you might decide to install the floor before the cabinets, so you can install it wall-to-wall rather than around tricky edges. However, before you decide to put flooring underneath, make sure to read through our other factors to consider.

Types Of Flooring

The type of flooring you are planning on installing can play a big part in deciding to install the flooring under the cabinets. If you opt for vinyl or laminate flooring, you should lean towards not installing underneath cabinets. Tile and hardwood are some options that could be done both ways. We'll go over why below!

Do you install vinyl flooring under cabinets?

Vinyl is a popular and affordable option for kitchen flooring. It is also easy to clean. However, it is not indestructible and can be easily affected by changes in moisture or temperature. For this reason, installing vinyl under kitchen cabinets is not recommended. Because it could become damaged easily, and it might warp or expand, it could cause you lots of problems down the road.

Do you tile a floor under kitchen cabinets?

While tile floors would be fine under kitchen cabinets, there are also some instances where it makes more sense to do so than others. For example, if you are installing new cabinets, tiling wall to wall may be easier. However, when installing appliances and new cabinets, be careful not to crack any tile.

For this reason, many contractors prefer to leave the flooring until the end of a remodel when lifting heavy appliances and equipment back and forth won't be necessary.

If you need some inspiration for kitchen tile, check out our other post for some ideas: 6 Best Types of Tiles For Kitchen Floors.

Do you install laminate flooring under cabinets?

It is better not to install laminate flooring under cabinets. Like vinyl, it can become damaged by water, so if one of your appliances, like your dishwasher, began to leak, it could be difficult to reach the damaged flooring. That being said, some people still choose to install the flooring underneath the cabinets, so there is no loss in height when the floor is installed around them.

If you choose to install the flooring underneath the cabinets, make sure it is flooring that will be glued down and will not need to expand or contract.

Do you install hardwood flooring under cabinets?

Like most of the flooring options, there are pros and cons as to whether to install hardwood flooring under cabinets. Hardwood flooring is expensive, so you'll unlikely be redoing the floor anytime soon. If there's a chance you will be replacing your cabinets in the not-so-far future, it might make sense to install the hardwood under the cabinets. That way, when you replace the cabinets, you won't have to replace the floor too.

Cost of Materials and Labor

Another big factor of any remodel is the cost of labor and materials. It doesn't take a math whiz to figure out that if you're not adding flooring under cabinets, you'll need less flooring. Depending on the size of your cabinets and the type of flooring you've chosen, not putting flooring underneath can save you a lot of money.

Also, if for some reason you decide to change your floor in the future, you'll be able to remove the flooring without removing the cabinets and vice versa. If you plan on your floor outliving your cabinets, it's okay to install them underneath, but if you're afraid your cabinets might outlive your floor, it's better not to.

It's also worth mentioning that cabinets are often considered a more permanent feature than flooring, so most people choose not to tile underneath.

Types Of Cabinets Being Used

This might be a more obvious factor, but it's still worth discussing. Most cabinets will reach all the way to the floor, but if you have a style where you can see underneath them, you should install the flooring underneath. This will create a uniform look throughout the kitchen. For cabinets that do reach the floor, installing flooring underneath that won't be seen might waste time and resources.

Can you install base cabinets on a floating floor?

You should not install base cabinets on a floating floor. Floating floors, such as laminate flooring, need space to expand and contract within the environment. Installing them under cabinets where they might be restricted can cause issues with the flooring. These issues might include causing the floor to buckle or gaps forming between the planks.

How do you level cabinets on an uneven floor?

A worker measuring the flooring allotted for the cabinets

Not all floors are level, and the last thing you need is your drink, or anything for that matter,  sliding off the edge of the countertop. So how can you ensure the cabinets are level on an uneven floor? Fortunately, you're not doomed to have unlevel cabinets. Cabinets can be leveled using shims.

Click here to see Pro Project’s Cedar Wood Shims on Amazon.

Shims can be placed underneath the cabinets until they are level. Some cabinets have adjustable legs, which can be changed to make the rest of the cabinet level. Check out this YouTube video for a great way to use a laser level to make your base cabinets level.

Click here to see CRAFTSMAN Laser Level Tool on Amazon.

If your floor isn't level, you may also be wondering whether you can install laminate flooring on an uneven floor. Check out our other article on the topic here: Does A Floor Have To Be Level For Laminate Flooring?

Final Thoughts

In summary, there is no set standard for whether you should put flooring underneath your cabinets or not. It's ultimately up to you. The best thing to do is sit down and write a list of pros and cons. Hopefully, our article has given you some things to consider in your decision-making!

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