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Should the floor go under the cabinets?

Posted by luvmyguys (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 18, 09 at 14:59

When cabinets are installed, is the floor supposed to go under them? Our house is on a concrete slab. Our contractor originally told us he was going to put a 1/2" thick plywood board under the cabinets, but then he ended up installing the cabinets directly on the slab. I've since realized that when the wood floor is installed, the counter top will effectively be about 5/8 to 3/4" lower, putting it a little over 35". I never realized it before but my old counter top was actually over 37" high and I had a thin vinyl floor, so my new counter top seems extremely low! Ahhh, something totally unexpected! It's too late now but I was just wondering how it is usually done.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

I'm in the middle of our kitchen renovation and our contractor put the tile down over the whole floor. Cabinets will be going in next (on top of the tile).


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

My contractor installed plywood.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

We are putting in hardwood...but not under the cabinets. But I'm 5'2" and don't really mind losing some counter height.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

If the cabinets are not installed at the same height as the floor, you won't be able to pull out your refrigerator (if it's built-in), range or dishwasher. Normally, if a contractor doesn't want to inccrease material costs by running hardwood, tile or stone under the cabinets, the cabinets will be installed on a piece of plywood that is the same height as the finished floor so appliances can be removed for repair or replacement in the future.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

Our hardwood was installed first, and goes under the cabinets.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

Your contractor should have either put the floor under the cabinets OR installed plywood to equal the "finished" floor height of the rest of the kitchen floor.

You may run into a problem w/your appliances if the floor under the cabinets is lower than that of the rest of the kitchen...installing as well as removing later for service or replacement.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

We will be having our entire floor tiled and then the cabinets are going to be installed.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

Our new floor (laminate tile) is being put under our appliances so that they won't get wedged in and in the future can easily be pulled out if repair or replacement might be in our future.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

"Our contractor originally told us he was going to put a 1/2" thick plywood board under the cabinets, but then he ended up installing the cabinets directly on the slab."

Then he should rectify the situation by removing and reinstalling those cabinets (at no additional cost) with plywood under, for the reasons others have stated. Was this a mistake, or did he do it intentionally?


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

I agree with everyone else. The cabts shoud at least be built up to meet whatever your floor will be. You'll run into problems with your appliances if not. We install tile under the whole kitchen, then reinstall the cabinets. Plus what if down the road, someone (yourself or somebody else) wants to change the layout of your kitchen. Then they'll have to deal with it.
Good Luck :)

Here is a link that might be useful: granite countertops


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

Floor first.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

I replaced my floor, but kept my cabinets. My GC moved the cabinets and installed the floor (travertine tile) under the cabs.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

I have a question. If the flooring goes under the cabinets, what happens if you want to replace the flooring but not the cabinets? That is what is happening to me in my laundry room. The PO installed tile(ceramic?)throughout the room. Then had custom built floor to ceiling cupboards built. I hate the tile. Now I am not sure how I can remove it without removing all cupboards first. :-(


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

OK...now I'm getting a little freaked out. I don't know why he decided it wasn't necessary to put the plywood down. He plans to have the wood floor go under the dishwasher and frig. Is that going to work or does that create other issues?


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

That's definitely an issue - is your dishwasher under your counters, next to other cabinets? They won't be the same level. What's that going to do to your counter? Why wouldn't he just put something under all of them?

I'm starting to freak for you - your contractor is scaring me. Tell him to STOP and re-do it right. Seriously. And make sure he levels the cabinets! You need to be on him, apparently.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

The dishwasher is under the counter, between a corner cab and the sink base. I'm having a hard time visualizing how this will look. The floor will stop against the toekick of the cabinets as it goes under the DW, so won't that make it look level?


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

but they won't BE level - your dishwasher is sized to be the same height as the cabinet base - so your cabinet base will actually sit 1/2 inch lower if it doens't have floor (or something the same level as the floor) under it. So when you go to lay your counter across, it won't be able to be installed correctly. If you have stone it's a MAJOR issue.

I'm sure the kitchen designers on here tomorrow will be able to tell you more reasons - but he's doing it flat out wrong - everyone here has floor (or something level with the floor) running under their cabs - because that's how it's supposed to be done. It might be a PITA for him to fix it, but you should be furious.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

Sometimes it depends on the flooring. We were going to lay the floor first but the resilient sheet flooring we used is really supposed to be loose layed without glue over concrete. We did it after install (it has nominal thickness) and it wasn't a problem. But the installer left off the toe kick, boxed filler between dishwasher and range and fridge panel so we could avoid quarter round and the flooring was layed under those elements and the appliances as part of the one overall piece. If the toe kick is in he'll need to add quarter round which sort of seems like a waste.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

My two cents, I think it's all about height. The bottom of your dishwasher, refrigerator, and range (if you have one) need to be at the exact same level as the bottom of your cabinets.

Two ways to accomplish this. One, install the flooring first so the cabinets and appliances sit on the same floor. Two, install plywood underneath the cabinets to simulate flooring.

There are pros and cons to both methods, I think the logistics of the build/remodel are the most important factor in determining which method.

Agree with those above, you need to go back to your installer and have him do it right.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

Did I mention that the granite counter is already in? And most of the backsplash.

I just looked at my dishwasher specs and I'm not sure it's going to fit- it's very close. The height of the DW at its lowest plus the height of the floor plus a 1/4" clearance at the top of the DW will take up the entire space. If they have to do any floor prep that could add a little. But this is our old DW- maybe other brands are a little smaller. Geez, I hope I can sleep tonight.

Btw, our contractor is a good guy and he's been very meticulous. That's why I am very eager to find out tomorrow why he decided not to put down the plywood.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

To answer Mary Lu's question from above ("If the flooring goes under the cabinets, what happens if you want to replace the flooring but not the cabinets?")... Tile can be removed from the rest of the kitchen and left under the cabinets. As long as the old tile and new tile are the same or close to the same thickness, this shouldn't be a problem. I have some friends who replaced the tile in her kitchen several years after installing her cabinets, and it worked out fine.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

Mary_Lu, even if the old tile & new flooring (regardless of type) aren't the same height, you can still do it. But you have to build up the subfloor under the new floor so that the finished height of both the tile under the cabinets and the new floor are the same.

If the new flooring material is thicker than the old tile, then you may have a problem...


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

He installed the counters before the appliances were in place? Maybe it varies by material - but I thought that was another no-no? At least with soapstone it is. Or is my soapstone place different in telling me to have them installed before they'll come put the counters in?


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

I thought too the appliances had to be in place before granite is installed. At least that is what we were told at the granite company- that everything needed to be in place.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

I believe that if you have a floating wood floor (over slab), those are actually properly installed after the cabinetry is in. Otherwise (hardwood, tile, etc), the floor goes first.

I'm sure your contractor is doing it just fine, and can explain his reasoning re. the plywood to you -- after all, he's right there and we're not. :-)


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

So glad this came up.
We put a tile floor in before deciding we wanted new cabinets, and didn't remove the cabinets. One of the first things I noticed was that I scuffed the tops of my boots on the much shorter toe kick, but I never really noticed the shorter cabinet height.
We might have that problem of removing the DW before the old cabs can be removed. I don't have a GC, and the cabinet maker wants all the appliances out beforehand.
I'll definitely have him to put down plywood, so the counters will be higher.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

What others said: the type of flooring makes a difference in the way you/your contractor choose to do it (lay floor to the wall or build up plywood underneath the appliances), but under no circumstances should the appliances go direct on concrete.

I'm having my counters built to 37" and I'd kill my contractor if we lost even an inth of that.

MaryLu: no problem, your tile doesn't have to be removed under the cabinets. Your contractor will simply chip it away to that edge and lay the new floor in between. Might need a quarter round or something to create a clean transition between floor and cabinets, but your cabs won't have to come out (unless your contractor thinks that's easier).


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

I'm still waiting for our contractor to come this morning. While waiting, I'm measuring like crazy. The base cabinets are 34 1/2" - the toekick portion is 4 1/2" and the rest is 30". I assume that's standard (??). The granite sits directly on top of the cabs. That leaves 34 1/2 " (plus a smidge from shims used to level the cabs) for the dishwasher. If the floor is 1/2" thick, the DW is 33 15/16" at its lowest and the required clearance above the DW is 1/8-1/4", that means the space required is 34 9/16" minimum. That doesn't include any amount for leveling compound or glue under the floor either, but that may be negligible. It also would eliminate the Kahrs floor I was looking at, since it's 5/8" thick. I sure hope I am misunderstanding something here.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

I don't know how my contractor did it but they didn't install any hardwood under the cabinets except where the fridge (subzero 48" built-in) and dishwasher (FP dishdrawers) are. And the granite went in before the appliance. So it sounds like he did everything "wrong" but everything fits and is level. Maybe I'm missing something but if they can install the appliances after the floor, cabinets, and granite are in, why wouldn't you be able to remove it since it went in last?


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

Thanks to those who responded to my question. I suspect we will have to chip out the tile. I didn't mean to hi-jack. There are other issues too, but I will start a separate post for those.

luvmyguys, I hope everything works out for you. Please keep us posted.


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RE: Should the floor go under the cabinets?

Well, I found out our contractor is not coming today so I called him. He said he measured the DW and it is only 32" and will definitely fit no problem, even with a 5/8" thick floor. Maybe there is some part that can come off that I don't know about. He is going to come and check tomorrow. He also said that he's installed cabs this way before and it works fine.

So, once the floor is put in place, the counter height will be about 35"- 35 1/8". That's a little disconcerting since I'm 5'8" and DH is 6'6". As I mentioned earlier, my old counter was higher than standard, but I didn't know that, so this seems low. I feel like I grew a couple inches when I'm in there.

Here's another thing: we also remodeled the bathroom near the kitchen and used a kitchen height vanity (actually the KD ordered it that way- she thought it would be better for us because we're tall). In the bathroom, they tiled the floor first and then installed the vanity, so now my bathroom counter is 1/2" higher than the kitchen will be once the floor is installed. Seems backwards to me.


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