BWC Basics: Do Kitchen Cabinets Sit on Subfloor?

If you are in the process of renovating or building a kitchen, you may be wondering whether kitchen cabinets sit on the subfloor or if the flooring should be installed first then the cabinets placed on top of it. There are a few factors that should be taken into consideration while deciding which course of action to take. 

Type of Flooring

When installing kitchen cabinets, you need to keep in mind the type of flooring you will be installing in your kitchen. Depending on the type of flooring, there are different recommended methods for installing cabinets.

  • Floating Floor: If you are installing floating flooring, it will need a small gap along the walls to have space to expand with seasonal humidity and temperature changes. Installing heavy cabinets, particularly those with granite or stone countertops, could interfere with this type of flooring, causing it to buckle or come apart, so installing cabinets on the subfloor is recommended.
  • Tile: With tile flooring, it is best to install the floor first then place the cabinets on top to ensure they are at the proper height. Quality tile can last a long time and may outlast your cabinets. Having the tile installed before the cabinets would make the process of removing them easier, should they need to be replaced.
  • Hardwood: Hardwood flooring should also be installed before cabinets to ensure the kitchen cabinets sit at the proper height. However, you can also install the cabinets on the subfloor before installing flooring by placing shims beneath the cabinets to raise them to the right height.
  • Vinyl or Laminate: Since vinyl or laminate flooring will likely need replacement, it is better to install the cabinets on the subfloor with this type of flooring. The cabinets will also likely not need to be raised, since laminate and vinyl flooring is so thin. It is possible to install cabinets on top of this flooring, but you might need to make extra cuts around the cabinets.

Type of Cabinets

The type of cabinet you are planning to install should also be taken into account when deciding whether they should be on top of the subfloor or the flooring.

  • Cabinets with Feet: If the cabinets you are installing have feet, you should install them on top of the finished flooring. Since the flooring beneath the cabinets will be visible after installation, you do not want the subfloor to be visible. This also allows cabinets to “breathe,” which means a lower chance of growing mold or mildew.
  • Cabinets with a Toe Kick: A toe kick is a recessed area beneath the edge of a cabinet that allows you to step close to it without bending over. Cabinets with toe kicks are generally installed on the subfloor with the flooring cut to the edge of the recessed area. However, if the cabinet has legs or an arch in front of the toe kick, they should either be placed on top of the finished flooring or cuts must be made on the flooring around the cabinets to fit the edge of the cabinet.
  • Cabinets with Skirting: Cabinets with skirting are able to be easily installed on top of the subfloor. The flooring will not be seen beneath the cabinet and the skirting usually runs in a straight line, which means no intricate cuts. However, this may vary with the design of the cabinet.

Budget Parameters

Since flooring may take up a considerable portion of your kitchen budget, keeping your budget in mind when choosing how to install cabinets may be helpful in remaining within its parameters. Installing cabinets on the subfloor can save you money on flooring materials since you won’t need to use as much. However, this could mean more labor costs due to the custom cuts you have to make to install the flooring. Weighing these advantages and disadvantages, alongside the type of flooring and cabinets, is an essential part of the installation process.

Future Remodeling Projects

It is always a good idea to keep in mind whether you may decide to remodel your kitchen in the future while installing cabinets. If you think you might remodel at some point, installing your cabinets on top of the kitchen flooring might be a safer option. This allows you to easily change the arrangement of or remove the cabinets, whereas, when installed on the subfloor, you’ll either have to completely redo your floor or attempt the incredibly difficult task of filling in and matching your flooring. No matter how far off the prospect may be, this is an important factor to keep in mind.

Buy Wholesale Cabinets Cabinetry

At Buy Wholesale Cabinets, we offer premium assembled and ready-to-assemble cabinets. Our base cabinets are designed with a toe kick feature, which means it can be easily installed on the subfloor, cutting down on flooring costs. Other cabinet features include a Shaker door design, solid wood construction, European soft-close drawers, and painted surfaces. We offer high-quality cabinets at the same low prices for contractors, home builders, and DIYers alike. The best part is all of our products shift nationwide. All we need are the sizes you require for your project, and we can get started on helping you realize your cabinet goals. Give us a call at 888-216-6277 to speak with one of our friendly representatives today.

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