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Does Hardwood Flooring Go Under Cabinets?

Dear Bob and Betsy,
I’m building a new house from the ground up. In the kitchen, we plan to have hardwood flooring. What should I install first – the cabinets or the floors? Does hardwood flooring go under cabinets?
Thanks! Elvia C.

Dear Elvia,

Your new house sounds exciting! Putting hardwood floors in your kitchen will look luxurious. Great choice.

When building your kitchen, we almost always recommend installing your flooring before adding any cabinetry or appliances. The only times when we might recommend installing cabinetry first is when you are installing the floor and cabinets at separate times with long intervals in between, or if there is water damage.

Neither of those scenarios sounds like they match your situation, so we give you our full endorsement to install the flooring before the cabinetry. Here’s why:

1. Cabinets Vary in Height

If you’re installing your cabinets before your floors, you’ll need to measure the height to make sure there is enough room for your flooring to slide underneath your appliances. Some people put plywood in the place of the flooring to give an estimate of how much extra space will be needed between the top of the cabinets and the appliance. This isn’t ideal.

Instead, we suggest installing your cabinets over your hardwood floors. This saves you the hassle of measuring and reduces the risk of error. It also saves you the hassle of cutting the planks of your hardwood flooring in exact measurements once the cabinets are installed.

2. You Want Flexibility

You’re married to this design now because you’ve toiled over it for a long time. Still, you might want some flexibility to change your kitchen’s footprint years down the road.

Hardwood flooring can last for decades, if not centuries with the right upkeep. It would be a shame for you or the future owner to want to change the kitchen footprint and need to replace all of the flooring in the areas where you did not install it. This is especially true if you have a kitchen island with cabinets.

3. It Looks the Best

Ultimately, the reason you should install your flooring before your kitchen cabinets is because it looks better. Plain and simple.

With your flooring already installed, you can be sure there are no gaps or awkward edges in the room. Everything will flow together seamlessly giving your new kitchen a complete look.

If you have more questions, please write them in the comments below. We will be glad to help!

Learn More:

9 comments

  1. Thanks so much for your feedback, Joseph!

  2. Such as useful article! As someone in this industry, this is such great info for those out there. Thank you.

  3. Great article! Have installed a lot of flooring for clients and couldn’t agree more! It’s just better for overall planning and easier when executing.

  4. Hi Mona – No insulation is needed between the island and the hardwood flooring. You would install the island directly on top of the hardwood flooring. If you have anymore questions, please feel free to reply yo this comment!

  5. Do I need to put insulation between the hardwood floor in the kitchen and the island?

  6. Hi Rob! Thanks for sharing your feedback. Glad you enjoyed the article!

  7. I am glad I bumped into this article. I have been installing cabinets in the Huntersville NC area for a long time now, and more and more of my customers are switching from Tile/Laminate to hardwoods. They say the exact same thing… “It just looks better.” I personally agree. You cannot go wrong with hardwoods underneath cabinets. Glad to know these articles/blogs are out here. Thanks for writing!

  8. Thank you Destiny! Glad they could help.

  9. I love reading these articles because they’re short but invafmotire.

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