Should Flooring Go Under Cabinets?

The decision of whether to run new flooring underneath kitchen cabinets or terminate it at the cabinet bases is a common dilemma faced during renovations. This choice has implications for the overall aesthetic, functionality, and budget of the project. Should flooring go under cabinets?

It’s a question that homeowners, designers, and contractors alike have grappled with for decades, weighing the pros and cons of each approach. On one hand, continuing the flooring beneath cabinets can create a sleek, continuous look. But, on the other hand, it may add complexity to the installation process.

With strong arguments on both sides, it’s an issue that sparks debate among industry experts and DIYers. Whether you’re planning a full kitchen overhaul or a simple floor replacement, the question remains – should that new flooring extend underneath those cabinets?

Should Flooring Go under Cabinets?

Source: / Photo Contributor: Nicholas J Klein

Should Flooring Go Under Cabinets?

Yes, flooring should go under cabinets. This ensures a seamless look and prevents issues like uneven flooring or gaps. It’s easier to maintain and looks better aesthetically. Installing cabinets on top of flooring can result in gaps or unevenness, which is not ideal. 

Also, having flooring underneath simplifies future cabinet replacements or changes without concerns about matching or redoing the flooring. Overall, it’s a good practice for a smoother and more cohesive finish.

So, flooring or cabinets first? Let’s look at the arguments for both sides to make a better decision. We will consider aesthetics and functionality to help you make the right choice. 

Arguments for Flooring Under Cabinets

Aesthetic continuity

Installing flooring underneath kitchen cabinets creates a sleek, cohesive look. It eliminates visually jarring transitions or exposed subfloor edges, making the room feel more spacious and streamlined. 

The continuous flow of flooring material draws the eye from one end to the other. It ties together the entire space for an upscale, high-end appearance. Many designers favor this approach for its polished aesthetic.

Flexibility in future renovations

While the initial installation may be more involved, having flooring under cabinets simplifies future updates. If cabinets ever need replacing or relocating, the new units can be placed right over the existing floors.

This avoids the hassle and expense of refinishing floors around cabinets. It also allows homeowners to easily change out cabinet components like doors or boxes. With uninterrupted floors already in place, these projects become much more straightforward. The option provides invaluable flexibility over the kitchen’s lifetime.

Flexibility in future renovations

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Potential for better seal against moisture

Some experts argue that continuous flooring creates a better moisture barrier around cabinets. By eliminating the open gap between the floor and cabinet base, there are fewer entry points for spills or humidity. 

This can potentially help protect both the floor and cabinets from water damage. However, the effectiveness depends on the specific flooring material installed. Impermeable surfaces like tile or vinyl may offer better moisture protection than wood flooring, for instance. Careful material selection is key to maximizing this potential benefit.

Arguments Against Flooring Under Cabinets

Cost efficiency

Not extending flooring underneath cabinets can provide significant cost savings. By only installing flooring in the open floor areas, material expenses are reduced. This makes it a budget-friendly option for many homeowners.

The amount saved depends on the flooring material and the size of the kitchen. For larger spaces with high-end floors like hardwood, the savings can be substantial. It allows focusing on the flooring budget where it will be most visible.

Simplification of installation

Installing cabinets directly on the subfloor simplifies the flooring installation process. There’s no need to carefully work around cabinet bases and toe kicks. This can lead to faster installation times and lower labor costs. 

The process becomes even more straightforward for floating floor systems. With no permanent attachments, floors can terminate against cabinet bases cleanly. It reduces the potential for installation errors or obstructions.

Considerations for fixed appliances

In kitchens with fixed appliances like ranges or dishwashers, extending floors may be impractical. These appliances are difficult to unlevel or reposition to accommodate continuous flooring. 

Creating a cohesive look becomes extremely challenging around them. In such scenarios, it often makes more sense to leave floors exposed around appliances. This allows appliance replacements without major flooring renovations in the future. It helps avoid potential damage during the removal process as well. 

Considerations for fixed appliances

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We hope this article has helped you solve the dilemma of whether should flooring go under cabinets. Even though many factors could be considered when making the decision, we advise that adding flooring under the cabinets is a better option.

By adding flooring under cabinets, you get better protection and seal from moisture, dust, and mold.

However, if you think that the cost may affect your budget – we have a good solution! You can place different, cheaper flooring under the cabinets that would not be visible but will provide you with the same protection and aesthetic!

Mark is a seasoned home services contractor and now serves as the Director of Market Research for Services Curated.