Do You Lay Flooring Before Cabinets?

Installing flooring before cabinets is a crucial decision to make when renovating or building a new space. While some may argue for installing cabinets first, there are compelling reasons why laying flooring beforehand is a wise choice. This article explores the pros and cons of both approaches, aiming to provide you with an informed perspective to ensure a successful and efficient home improvement project. By understanding the implications of this decision, you can ultimately achieve a flawlessly designed space that seamlessly integrates your flooring and cabinets.

Table of Contents

Importance of Floor Installation Order

Floor installation order plays a crucial role in the overall layout of a space. The decision to install flooring before or after cabinets can significantly impact the functionality and aesthetics of the room. It is crucial to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of each approach to ensure a successful and satisfying outcome.

Advantages of Laying Flooring Before Cabinets

Ease of installation

Installing flooring before cabinets simplifies the installation process. With an open space, there are no obstacles to work around, making it easier to lay the flooring evenly and efficiently. This can save both time and money during the installation process.

Flexibility in cabinet placement

By installing the flooring first, you have the freedom to choose the ideal cabinet layout. You can easily adjust the positioning of the cabinets without worrying about the constraints of the flooring. This flexibility allows for better utilization of space and ensures optimal functionality in the room.

Avoiding damage to the flooring

One significant advantage of laying flooring before cabinets is the reduced risk of damage to the flooring. During cabinet installation, tools and heavy objects can accidentally scratch or dent the flooring surface. By completing the flooring installation beforehand, you can protect your investment and maintain the pristine condition of the flooring.

Better visual continuity

Installing flooring before cabinets creates a seamless and visually pleasing look. When cabinets rest on top of the flooring, the transition between the two is smooth, enhancing the overall aesthetics of the room. This visual continuity adds a sense of cohesiveness to the space, resulting in a polished and sophisticated appearance.

Do You Lay Flooring Before Cabinets?

Disadvantages of Laying Flooring Before Cabinets

Potential need for additional flooring

One of the potential downsides of installing flooring before cabinets is the requirement for additional flooring material. Cabinets may cover a significant portion of the floor, creating the need for extra flooring to cover the exposed areas. This can lead to additional expenses and may require careful planning and coordination with installers.

Potential challenges with future floor replacements

Laying flooring before cabinets can present difficulties if you need to replace or update the flooring in the future. Removing and replacing cabinets to access the underlying flooring can be a time-consuming and costly process. Therefore, it is essential to carefully consider your long-term plans for the space before committing to this installation order.

Difficulties in adjusting cabinet heights

Installing flooring before cabinets may pose challenges in adjusting the height of the cabinets. If the flooring height differs from the initial measurements, it may require additional adjustments to ensure that the cabinets align with the countertop or other fixtures properly. This adjustment process can be complex and may require the assistance of a professional.

Increased risk of damage to cabinets during installation

While installing flooring before cabinets can protect the flooring, it can potentially increase the risk of damage to the cabinets. Heavy flooring materials or tools used during installation can accidentally scratch or dent the cabinet surfaces. Extra care must be taken to avoid any mishaps that could compromise the quality and appearance of the cabinets.

Advantages of Laying Flooring After Cabinets

Easier cabinet installation

Opting to lay flooring after cabinets simplifies the cabinet installation process. With the cabinets already in place, the flooring installer can easily work around them without the need for additional adjustments or temporary removal of the cabinets. This can save time and minimize potential disruptions during the installation process.

Ability to make precise cuts for a seamless finish

Installing flooring after cabinets allows for precise measurements and cuts to achieve a seamless finish. The flooring can be precisely cut to fit snugly around the cabinets, resulting in a clean and professional look. This attention to detail enhances the overall aesthetics of the room and creates a visually pleasing transition between the cabinets and flooring.

Reduced risk of damage to cabinets during flooring installation

By installing cabinets first, the risk of accidental damage during flooring installation is minimized. Flooring materials can be heavy, and the tools required may pose a threat to the cabinets. By completing cabinet installation first, you can ensure that they remain intact and undamaged, providing a solid foundation for the flooring.

More options for cabinet materials and designs

Laying flooring after cabinets allows for greater flexibility in choosing cabinet materials and designs. With the cabinets already in place, you can make informed decisions about their style, color, and materials without being limited by the flooring choice. This freedom opens up a wide range of possibilities to create a custom and personalized look.

Do You Lay Flooring Before Cabinets?

Disadvantages of Laying Flooring After Cabinets

Limited flexibility in cabinet placement

Opting for flooring installation after cabinets limits the flexibility in cabinet placement. Once the cabinets are in place, it may be challenging to make adjustments or explore alternative configurations. This lack of flexibility can impact the overall functionality and layout of the room, potentially limiting your design options in the future.

Potential difficulties with future floor replacements

Installing flooring after cabinets can present challenges when it comes to future floor replacements. Removing and replacing cabinets to access the underlying flooring may be necessary, which can be a labor-intensive and costly process. It is crucial to consider the long-term implications and potential costs associated with future flooring changes.

Increased risk of damage to flooring during cabinet installation

Delaying flooring installation until after the cabinets are installed increases the risk of damage to the flooring. Heavy cabinets, tools, or accidental spills during installation can potentially scratch, dent, or stain the flooring surface. Extra care must be taken during cabinet installation to protect the flooring and prevent any damage or costly repairs.

Potential visual gaps at the cabinet base

Installing flooring after cabinets may result in visible gaps between the cabinet base and the flooring. These gaps can disrupt the visual continuity and create an unappealing aesthetic. While these gaps can be minimized with trim or other finishing techniques, they may still be noticeable, especially if the flooring material changes over time.

Factors Influencing the Decision

Several factors should be considered when choosing between laying flooring before or after cabinets:

Type of flooring material

Different flooring materials have unique installation requirements and considerations. Some materials, such as hardwood or luxury vinyl plank, may require greater care and attention to detail during installation. It is essential to evaluate the specific requirements of the chosen flooring material and determine if it is compatible with either installation order.

Cabinet design and materials

The design and materials of the cabinets can also influence the installation order. If the cabinets have intricate designs or specialized installations, it may be more practical to install them before the flooring. On the other hand, if the cabinets have a simpler design or if the flooring material permits easy adjustments, installing the flooring first may be a more suitable option.

Room layout and size

The layout and size of the room can affect the installation order decision. A larger or irregularly shaped room may require more flexibility in cabinet placement, making it more advantageous to install the flooring first. Alternatively, a smaller or more straightforward room layout may allow for easier adjustments and make installing the cabinets first a viable choice.

Personal preference and style

Ultimately, personal preference and style play a significant role in the decision-making process. Some individuals prefer the seamless look of flooring extending beneath the cabinets, while others prioritize flexibility in cabinet placement. Considering personal preferences and the desired aesthetic outcome is crucial in making an informed decision.

Choosing Flooring Before Cabinets

When opting for flooring installation before cabinets, the following steps can guide the decision-making process:

Step 1: Evaluate the flooring material

Thoroughly research and assess the chosen flooring material to understand its installation requirements, compatibility with this installation order, and potential long-term durability. Consider factors such as thickness, flexibility, and ease of adjustment to determine if it is suitable for installing before cabinets.

Step 2: Assess the cabinet design

Examine the design and materials of the cabinets to determine if they can be easily adjusted or installed on the flooring without compromising their structural integrity or appearance. Ensure that the chosen cabinet design complements the flooring material and overall style vision for the room.

Step 3: Consider the room layout

Analyze the layout of the room and evaluate if the placement of cabinets before flooring would hinder the overall functionality or aesthetic appeal of the space. Consider any potential limitations, such as irregularities in the room shape or obstructions that may affect the installation process or restrict future flexibility.

Step 4: Consult with professionals for guidance

Seeking guidance from flooring and cabinet experts is essential to make an informed decision. Consult with professionals experienced in both flooring and cabinet installations to get their insights and recommendations based on the specific characteristics of your space. Their expertise will help you navigate through the advantages and disadvantages of laying the flooring before cabinets.

Choosing Flooring After Cabinets

When opting for flooring installation after cabinets, consider the following steps:

Step 1: Assess the cabinet installation method

Review the cabinet installation method to determine if adjustments or temporary removal may be necessary during flooring installation. Consult with the cabinet installer or manufacturer to understand the requirements and potential challenges associated with adding flooring after the cabinets are already in place.

Step 2: Evaluate the flooring material

Consider the compatibility of the chosen flooring material with this installation order. Assess its ability to be precisely cut and fitted around the cabinets, ensuring a seamless and visually appealing transition. Determine if the flooring material can withstand the potential risks associated with cabinet installation, such as scratches or dents.

Step 3: Consider the room layout

Evaluate the room layout and determine if the limited flexibility in cabinet placement due to flooring installation after cabinets is acceptable for your desired design vision. Consider any potential difficulties in adjusting the layout or repurposing the space in the future due to the installation order chosen.

Step 4: Consult with professionals for guidance

Seeking advice from flooring and cabinet professionals is crucial in selecting the appropriate installation order. Their expertise and insights will help you navigate through the advantages and disadvantages associated with laying the flooring after cabinets. Consultation with professionals ensures that you make an informed decision that aligns with your specific needs and preferences.

Special Cases: Existing Floors and Renovations

In certain situations, flooring cannot be easily changed due to existing floors or renovation constraints. In such cases, it is important to consider the following:

Situations when flooring cannot be easily changed

Existing floors, such as concrete or specific flooring types, may be challenging to remove or replace. Additionally, renovations may have restrictions or limitations that make it impractical or costly to remove the existing flooring. Understanding these constraints is essential in determining the best approach to installing cabinets in such scenarios.

Options for seamless transitions between existing and new flooring

To minimize the visual impact of different flooring materials, options for seamless transitions can be explored. Transition strips, thresholds, or creative design elements can be used to blend the existing and new flooring, creating a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing result.

How to minimize the impact of floor height differences

In cases where floor height differences exist, subtle adjustments can be made to minimize the impact. Transition strips or a gradual change in flooring height can help bridge the gap between different areas, ensuring a smooth and visually appealing transition.


When deciding whether to lay flooring before or after cabinets, careful consideration of the advantages and disadvantages is crucial. Evaluating factors such as flooring material, cabinet design, room layout, and personal preferences will guide the decision-making process. Consulting with flooring and cabinet experts will further ensure that an informed decision is made, resulting in a successful and satisfying outcome. With proper planning and thoughtful consideration, you can achieve a functional and aesthetically pleasing space that you can enjoy for years to come.