Should I Remove Cabinets Before Flooring? (8 Things To Consider Before)

Cabinets vs Flooring

Are you wondering if you should remove cabinets before flooring? Whenever you are remodeling your flooring or setting it up for your new house, you need to care about plenty of things, including the cost of installation, the ease of fitting, future changes, and the list goes on.

One such predicament is if you should remove cabinets before flooring. To understand what’s right for you, consider the ins and outs of both options, as these are long-term investments.

Should I Remove Cabinets Before Flooring? (8 Things To Consider)

1. Flooring Material

While there are several flooring materials to consider, the choice of material directly influences whether or not you should remove the cabinets before flooring. For example, there is no need to remove the cabinets in the case of floating floors.

Even if you choose tiles, granite, or marble flooring, you can install the flooring without removing the cabinets, as it can minimize the risk of wear and tear that may occur in the re-installation of the cabinets. 

2. Ease and Time of Installation

Cutting the flooring material around the cabinet area can be a tricky part of the installation and needs proper expertise. If you are removing your cabinets, make sure you can give sufficient time for installers to make way for a perfect finishing. Also, the longer the time required, the higher the labor cost. 

3. The Budget

You certainly wouldn’t want to waste the costly raw materials underneath the cabinets that will hardly be visible, right? If you remove the cabinets and then do the flooring, you will potentially be wasting the flooring material, thus, adding up to the overall cost.

If you have the budget and are willing to take that extra work, you can go ahead. However, it won’t be an economical step. Again, there might be cases where cutting the floor can be costlier. So, it is good to seek professional advice based on the type of flooring you choose.

4. Aesthetics

If you need to give a royal look and feel to your flooring, you might consider doing the flooring first. It can give your house a clean and sharp look. It will also provide the flexibility to change the setting of your space with much ease. You can play around experimenting with your home decor ideas and moving your furniture or cabinets with much ease.

5. Toe kick

Knowing the height of your toe kicks is vital before you decide to move your cabinets. Make sure that the toe kicks align well with the flooring height. In most cases, the flooring installation will furnish extra height to the floor, and the cabinet may need some rise. Note how tall you want your cabinets to rise, and do not forget the toe kicks!

6. Underlayment

It is a supporting, thin material between the top floor covering and the base of the floor underneath. The thickness and material of the underlayment also influence the decision. If you do not remove the cabinets, the thicker underlayment can add to the height of the floor, and thus, the cabinet may seem lower than its actual height.

It is possible to cut even the underlayment around the cabinets with proper tools and expertise. This way, you can save yourself from removing the cabinets altogether.

7. Cabinet Protection

If you are concerned about tiny dents or potential risks on your cabinet structure, you might consider removing them safely before floor installation. In that case, you will need to protect your floor from damage while installing the cabinets. You can apply a durable finish, like polyurethane or varnish, to re-install the cabinets back to their place.

8. Spills

Not removing the cabinets would mean no flooring underneath the cabinets. One major threat that may occur is spilling. It can be a water or juice spill, water leakage, or flooding. In such cases, the water would clog in the crevices and seep down to degrade the flooring quality. Again, this can be dangerous in the case of wooden flooring mostly. There are alternatives like waterproofing mats, or counterparts, to overcome such issues. 

What Comes First, Flooring or Cabinets?

There is a vast stretch of work and planning behind a perfect house remodel, and when it comes to flooring, there can be confusion about whether the flooring should go first or the cabinets.

Some people find it easier to lay the flooring first and then fit the cabinets because that’s what anyone would ideally do. However, in some cases, for example, floating floors, it is more suitable to do the cabinets first

Let’s have a deep dive into each case and the pros and cons of installing the cabinets or flooring first. 

Cabinets First

So when to prefer cabinets before flooring? Well, I would say, in most cases! Today, with the advancement in technology across the globe, we have access to tools and equipment to mitigate any shortcomings that come with installing cabinets before flooring.

Then why not use the technology and save the environment by not wasting raw materials?

Pros Cons
1. Saves cost by preventing wastage of flooring material 1. Professional required to cut clean edges around the cabinets
2. Provides room for expansion and contraction of floors 2. Limits the arrangement for future changes
3. Saves flooring from potential damages from heavy cabinets
4. Flexibility in changing the flooring later

Flooring First

Now let’s talk about when you need to do the flooring first. Suppose you are in a hurry and want to get things done quickly without compromising on the quality of installation. Also, you do not use any floating floor materials, and you are someone who fancies changing the orientation of your house very frequently.

In such cases, if you go for flooring first, you will be doing yourself good.

Pros Cons
1. Gives a clean look and royal look 1. Wastage of money on flooring material under the cabinets
2. Flexible arrangement and ease of changing the position of the cabinet 2. Risk of floor damage due to expansion/contraction of the floor
3. Saves time as no requirement to cut the material around cabinet edges 3. Scratches on the new floor while installing the cabinets
4. Ensures proper height of the cabinets

Why You Shouldn’t Put Flooring Under Kitchen Cabinets

Laminate floors, vinyl floors, and many others contract and expand with temperature. If there is flooring material trapped under these cabinets, the heavyweight will not let the floor expand or shrink on its own and often produce buckles or bulges. Repairing a wooden floor, for instance, will require some extra effort.

Apart from damaging the floor, it will be a waste of money to add flooring underneath the cabinets because they will anyway not be visible. The excess flooring material and labor charges will add to the overall cost

Also, it will further prevent your cabinets from any other potential damages during installations, movements, etc.

Does Vinyl Flooring Go Under Cabinets?

Yes, vinyl flooring can go under cabinets, but it’s not recommended. The floating vinyl floors expand or contract due to the temperature differences and the rise in humidity. So, it’s best to avoid them under the cabinets. Nonetheless, if you choose glue-down vinyl flooring, you may install them under the cabinets as they won’t expand or contract.

Should Wood Floors be Installed Before Cabinets?

If you are remodeling your floors and cabinets, it’s alright to lay out the flooring first because hardwood floors are very durable and can last up to several years. Over time, you might need to replace your cabinets, and in those cases, having the flexibility to change the footprints of cabinets is a boon.

If the height of the wooden floors is more, you should install them before to avoid any height mismatch between the cabinets and the appliances or dishwasher. If you have the cabinets installed already, there is no need to remove them. Also, installing floating wooden flooring is best after the cabinets.

Can You Replace the Tile Floor Without Removing the Cabinets?

Yes, you can do that by cutting the tiles around the edges of the cabinet. It, however, may not be as simple as it sounds. You must consider your subfloor material, the height of your cabinets, ease of taking off the dishwasher for repair, to name a few.

Also, some tiles (like thick porcelain tiles) have more height than others, and it will entirely depend on how it fits with your cabinets. Cutting the thick tiles can be a tedious job, though. It won’t be much problem if you have the correct installation guide.

How do you install flooring without removing cabinets?

Now that we know it is possible to install flooring without removing the cabinets, the question is, how do we do that? One of the prime things is to cut the area around the cabinets as neatly as possible. In the case of floating floors, do remember to leave out some space for expansion or contraction. 

Here’s a short video that shows the installation of hardwood flooring without removing the cabinets.


In most cases, when you already have your cabinets in place, it is best to install the flooring without removing it. In any case, if you end up with dents on your cabinets, you may check out the quick DIY fix to restain your cabinets. However, when installing new cabinets, you might have to think about what suits you best.

Consider all the factors, like material, cost, durability, etc. In many cases, it all boils down to personal preferences. As far as the clean look is concerned, I believe the right installation tools and the correct procedure can bring great results and diminish the aesthetic differences between the two choices.

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