Cabinets installed before site finished hardwood floors - opinion

Mom23EsAugust 17, 2012

How many of your builders did this? None of our floors have been installed, but they are already installing our cabinets.

Last night I was infuriated. This morning DH told our builder to immediately stop cabinet installation so we could figure things out. We contacted our architect who contacted her contractor, and the contractor said that it is the most common way to install cabinets/floors around here. So, after getting that input and talking to our builder, we have decided to go ahead and install all cabinets on plywood (or whatever material theyre using to get it to the proper height) except for the kitchen island and the powder room. The powder room has open toekicks so it HAS to have the hardwood installed underneath. The island was compromise since we thought it would be the most likely to be affected if we ever renovated.

Now I'm just bummed. I know it shouldn't make any difference because we will never see the floors under the cabinets. I get it. But it just seems like a cheap thing to do. Am I having unreasonable expectations?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
minneapolisite

Our hardwood floors and ceramic tile go in Sept 4 - 19. Trim and cabinets are installed Sept 26 - Oct 4.

I believe our trim and cabinet work is done by the same sub-contractor.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 3:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
auroraborelis

That is the way that our kitchen was done. It was explained to me that there was two reasons for this:

1. If you were to ever to need to replace your floors (for instance, water damage) then you would not need to rip out your cabinets.

2. Might as well not pay for wood you can't see.

I was pretty nervous about it as well since my floors were also sight finished, but in the end they look great. Also, I was concerned about the neight, but the difference in the wood height was so negligable that we can't tell.

Our island was also then installed on top of the flinished flooring just in case we ever change our minds! :)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 3:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
minneapolisite

It's entirely possible that the hardwood in my kitchen will not go under my wall cabinets, but will just go up to where the cabinets will eventually go. I don't know much about building houses, but is it possible cabinets usually happen after wood floors only because trimwork HAS to happen after wood floors, and the cabinet contractor is often the same company as the trimwork contractor?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 3:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
auroraborelis

If the hardwood is going in before the cabinets it should go all the way to the wall.

Getting that lined up perfectly after the fact would be difficult, and a receipe for disaster.

However, I don't think the situation described by the OP is anything out of the norm.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 4:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brickeyee

It just means pieces of plywood need to be placed under the cabinets to bring them up level with the floor.

this is especially important for appliances, especially ones like a DW that can become trapped by flooring installed after they are placed.

Trying to lift a large range up to clear a flooring lip is not a picnic either.

Luckily most can be tipped forward.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 4:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
auroraborelis

Oh, I should have said that when they installed our floors they put the hardwood all the way under both the fridge and DW (we have a built in oven)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 5:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
nini804

Our site finished hardwoods were installed before our cabinets and appliances.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 6:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bowyer123

Our hardwood floors will be installed first and cabinets will then go on top of the floors.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 8:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Houseofsticks

My contractor said they would install the cabinets first we are building 2X_(3" I think)boxes to make them a little higher than the average. No hardwood will go underneath. We are doing a false velcro toe kick detail that will go ontop of the flooring (to cabinet). Velcro for ease of cleaning and so I don't have a mass collection of matchboxes and loose change under my cabinets it's closed. I think it's the norm now not to have the flooring underneath.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 9:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brickeyee

" I think it's the norm now not to have the flooring underneath."

More like a cheap way to save a few square feet of flooring and finishing.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 9:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Sophie Wheeler

No, it's not "the norm". It's the hard labor way--but the cheaper material way--of doing it. You have to cut plywood to fit under the cabinet footprint to avoid issues with appliance heights. You have to cut flooring to fit around the cabinet footprint. You have to be very very careful when finishing not to ding the cabinets with the sander or slop stain on them.

It's what happens when you have cheap labor. And the only cheap labor on a construction site is usually non documented persons. A master cabinet maker would never consent to doing this, nor would a quality flooring finisher.

The proper sequence to do site finished is the install of the flooring, the sanding, staining, and 2 coats of finish. Then the floor is protected and the rest of the finish carpentry done, including the cabinets. WHen all of that work is complete, the floor protection comes off and the final finish coat goes on.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 10:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
gaonmymind

hollysprings - Other than the floor finish getting on the cabs are there any other potential problems? I want to know in case my GC does it this way.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 10:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
auroraborelis

As I mentioned, in our current kitchen the cabinets were installed first, then the flooring, and the hardwood was installed in any "gaps" where appliances would go (in our kitchen this was just the fridge and dishwasher) so that there wouldn't be any height issues.

The reason for this is if there is ever a problem with the flooring (such as water damage from a leaky fridge) then the flooring can be pulled up without having to pull out the cabinets. To me this is a huge advantage and shouldn't be overlooked.

My aunt actually had her fridge leak and damage her wood floors, and was saved from having to pull out her cabinets because of this very same set up!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 1:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Sophie Wheeler

It's not difficult to saw out flooring at the toekick if it needs to be removed. And any water event that damages flooring will certainly damage the subfloor, or the plywood that the cabinets should be sitting on.

Standard counter heights and cabinet alignment heights in kitchen design are all designed to begin at 0 as the finished floor height. Depending on the design, this can be an issue with tall cabinetry not being tall enough for the ceiling and needing to add a horizontal filler for the molding planned for it and the other cabinets. It all starts at the finished floor level. Appliances like DW's need the full 34.5 height or you may be restricted to only models that can adjust to much shorter heights. Slide in ranges are especially problematical because they aren't very adjustable and depend on the cabinets being the standard 34.5 above the finished floor. That's why plywood has to go under the cabinets and you have to know the thickness of the flooring being used during the design phase.

Any other issues with doing the cabinets first mostly amount to the amount of damage that the flooring guys can inflict on the cabinets. Which can be considerable if a sander gets away from them. It's much easier to repair a hole in the drywall than it is one in the side of a cabinet. That has to actually be replaced.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 2:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Houseofsticks

Brickeye and Hollysprings thanks for weighing in. When I questioned my builder (several months ago)he did mention Laura's water leak point. We were initally going with site finished flooring but may consider prefinished flooring. I would think that this does not apply to tilework but thinking back now my open toekick bathroom vanity tile was put in first using the same GC. Would you reccommend across the board to finish flooring first or are there exceptions with different material choices? Thanks again, I love this forum!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 2:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mjtx2

Hollysprings said, "The proper sequence to do site finished is the install of the flooring, the sanding, staining, and 2 coats of finish. Then the floor is protected and the rest of the finish carpentry done, including the cabinets. WHen all of that work is complete, the floor protection comes off and the final finish coat goes on."

You're going to hear lots of reasons to do things one way or the other, but Hollysprings is right on. We've torn out three kitchens and now building a house, and this is *exactly* the way all our contractors have done it (and the exact process being done to our new house right now - two coats, cover with cardboard taped down, at the very end one more light sanding/coating). I don't buy the water damage argument, for the reasons Hollysprings cited above. The plywood (under the cabs) is just as vulnerable to water damage, and maybe moreso because it has no finish!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 4:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Mom23Es

Thanks for all the feedback. I'm still very disappointed by my builder's plan, but after talking to other people in the neighborhood and other friends who have built in our area, I've learned that this is pretty standard practice around here. I'm pretty sure every local builder does it this way unless you explicitly request otherwise, and at this point, for us, it's not worth the delay and possible extra charges. Apparently philosophies on building practices vary by region?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 2:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
auroraborelis

It seems so on this one!

Going back to the water issue, in my example of portion of the floor was damaged, but the cabinets were fine, so because of the flooring only going up to the cabinets it was easy to pull out the flooring with harming the cabinets!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 2:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
doc8404

'Standard practice' or not in your area, I think it is a huge mistake.

I just finished redoing my kitchen and had to have the hardwood fixed to run under the new cabs.

In my area, to not run the hardwood under the cabs is a sign of a cut-the-corners type job that suggests you look with a critical eye to the other details in your home.

Doc

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 3:42PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
5 panel interior doors
I love this door. I have Trustile- 2 panel, in my present...
ILoveRed
It's March 2015: How is your build progressing?
Zorro-anyone can start one. :) Link to It's February...
autumn.4
Sending my floor plan modifications to the architect. Ideas?
I have to have all my structural changes decided by...
houserookie
2 car vs 3 car attached garage price
We are in the beginning stages of trying to figure...
dotydreamhome
Need help with 8' porch drop-off
I'm needing ideas for terracing steps from my front...
Beth LaPenna
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™