Cabinets and Flooring, Which to Install First?

A kitchen remodel is one of the most common home improvement projects. It is a great way to update and personalize the space or increase the resale value of your home and make it more attractive to prospective buyers.

But fully renovating your kitchen is a major undertaking that requires professional assistance. But if you wish to do-it-yourself, it is important that you follow all the steps, in the right order, to ensure that the final outcome matches your intended design.

Cabinets and Flooring, Which to Install First?

A common dilemma for most DIYers is whether to install the cabinets or flooring first. So which approach should you use?

Cabinet Before Flooring

In most cases, the cabinets are installed before the floor covering but after the subfloor and underlayment. The floor covering or finish is usually cut to fit and butted against the cabinets, with a small gap between the two that is covered by nailing a shoe molding or baseboard to the bottom of the base cabinets.

There are two main reasons why you may choose to install the cabinet before the flooring. First is to save on flooring material and cost, because the nice flooring won’t have to cover the space occupied by the cabinets. And second, you may need to install the flooring around any existing cabinets and appliances if you don’t want to change the current layout in your kitchen remodel project.

Flooring Before Cabinet

There are a few instances when the cabinet should be installed after the floor finish. One of those instances is when the flooring is expected to be significantly higher than normal. If your floor will be more than two inches high, it is recommended that you install it before putting in the appliances and cabinets.

This will ensure that the height of the work surface of the countertops, cabinets, and appliances is at the right level – 36 inches. Otherwise, you may need to correct the height difference by placing plywood rises underneath your cabinets and appliances.


There are pros and cons to each installation order. That said, it is standard for the cabinet to go before the flooring, except under special circumstances as mentioned above.