I’m a first time home buyer. I am going to purchase a home that needs some TLC, especially in the kitchen. Should I replace the flooring before or after installing the new top and bottom cabinets?
This is a great question, and there are two main schools of thought. The perfectionist would tell you it is best to install the floor first and install it all the way under the cabinets. This has the advantage of creating an even floor across the whole space and prevents you from having to shim up the cabinets to match the height of a new floor. However, this also results in wasting a lot of flooring product. Now, if we’re talking about linoleum or vinyl, that’s no big deal. (Here are some of our favorite durable, low-maintenance kitchen flooring examples that you can also look into.) But if we’re talking about ceramic, hard wood, or marble, it’s going to cost you a few bucks to install flooring under cabinets that you’re never going to see.
The other way to do this is to bring the flooring up to the edge of the cabinets. What I would do in that case is install the cabinets first, and then shim them up using materials that would equal the height of the flooring. This is a very important step. If you were to install the cabinets on the floor and then bring the flooring up to it – let’s say the flooring is 3/4 of an inch or 1 inch thick – you’re going to have a big problem when it comes to the dishwasher. You’ll now have a big lip in the floor to push that dishwasher over when it comes to putting it in place. Even worse, when it comes time to replace the dishwasher when it inevitably breaks, you’re going to have a hard time getting it out. There have been times where folks have not planned for that outcome and actually had to disassemble the countertop and lift it vertically.
If it were my money, I would probably choose to shim up the cabinets to meet the height of the flooring. Then, I would install all kitchen cabinets. Finally, I would put the flooring in – but only under the area where the dishwasher is going to slide into place. This will make that part of the job a lot easier on the initial installation, as well as making it easier to ultimately remove and replace dishwashers in the future.
Good luck with that project, and send us some pictures when you’re all done!