Cabinets on out of level floor

M.NolanDecember 14, 2012

I am installing semi custom cabinets and need to deal with a 3/8" floor drop between two separate runs of cabinets separated by a refrigerator. Doing the cabinets before the floor. My options are to shim up the low side and cover the gap to the floor with extra molding (the prefinished kick plates are not oversized). Not a big fan of the cluttered look this might lead to. Another option would be to build up the finish floor to take care of the gap, which should be OK since the dishwasher is on the low side of the kitchen. A third option I am considering since the run is broken is simply to reset the level for the second run meaning that on the low side of the floor the cabinets would still be ~34.5" off the floor. Not sure if the 1/2" countertop offset would be noticeable when broken up by the fridge.

Any advice as to the best way to proceed would be greatly appreciated.

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Sophie Wheeler

First of all, you need to figure out why there's a drop in the flooring. Sometimes it's just minor settling, and sometimes it's the symptom of a much larger problem.

Second, flooring always comes before cabinets. Or else the cabinets go on top of plywood that's the same thickness as the flooring. Otherwise you have clearance issues with appliances.

Third, all cabinet installs begin with the identification of the high spot in the floor and all measurments for everything else start there. Find that high spot, and then you shim everything else to be level to it. You won't use standard toe kick when you have that much slope. You'll get a tall skin and rip it to size after you figure out what size it needs to be.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 3:14PM
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In addition, the other issue that could arise is if you are doing a continuous backsplash. With the counter tops being different elevations, you'd have to take that into consideration if your backsplash has a pattern.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 6:29PM
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If I may add to all the good points above check the level of the ceiling. Sad when the floor issues have been addressed and you find bulkheads built before cabs go up or crown molding becomes a nightmare.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 3:36PM
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Never a good idea to reset the height. Just shim the cabinets, 3/8ths inch is not that much. Drop the kick plate to the floor, I doubt you will see the top of the kick plate but if you do add a small trim piece there

    Bookmark   December 16, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Did a kitchen in an old house with an unlevel floor once where the cabinets were Crown Point with decorative legs mounted. So there could be no shimming; all had to be scribed. Some of the feet were brass-capped. Ugh.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 7:30AM
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If I may add to all the good points above check the level of the ceiling.

Unless you're levelling everything in an old house, you might be better off leaving off perfection. I once built a bulkhead perfectly square and plumb over cabinetry yet to come. Trouble was, since the ceiling wasn't level, my bulkhead looked slightly off.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 8:05PM
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Having "composed" in this field of endeavor for several centuries, (7 days older than dirt & thats 3 days older than baseball), I level the base from the high point, measure down from the ceiling on the low side the height of the uppers, to establish the distance between the base and uppers.
Now, you can be satisfied with a dimension less than the standard of 18" or you can trim the top of the uppers which even in modular, (bag-n-box), there is about 1/2" of material above the top.

One last thought, particular and peculiar, both began with "pee."

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 10:51AM
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I have had to deal with this a time or two. What I have done was to order the same thickness material as the toe kick is which is normally(1/4") thick. Perhaps your cabinet manufacturer offers a panel similar to one that might be used on the back of a peninsula or the side of an utility cabinet. Cut whatever heights you need out of that and make custom height toe kick coverings. Hope this helps...

This post was edited by jhodg13 on Fri, Dec 21, 12 at 12:07

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 12:03PM
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