Should You Install New Flooring Before or After Your New Cabinets?

Should You Install New Flooring Before or After Your New Cabinets?

One of the biggest debates in the kitchen design industry is which comes first, flooring or cabinetry. While most of the renovation process has a set structure and running order, the timing for installing flooring varies. In fact, a quick scan of the professional advice available online shows both approaches have strong support.

Here we look at the case for each of these approaches. We explore why you would choose to do your flooring first and why it’s better to start with your cabinetry. We also go over what you should consider when choosing when to lay your flooring.

Why it’s better to lay flooring first

Those who recommend putting down flooring first are usually more focused on how the final product will look. They generally believe that starting with flooring creates a sleeker, more seamless finish. They are often also willing to pay more to get the installation right, seeing it as a long-term investment.

With this in mind, the main benefits of laying floors first are:

  • Installation is easier: When you start with your flooring, you usually fit it to the entire kitchen area. This means it doesn’t need to be cut around your cabinetry and should be quicker and easier to install. This, in turn, could save you on installation costs.
  • It looks cleaner: Because flooring runs all the way underneath the cabinetry, there are no messy joins or edges. There’s also no need for beading to cover any cracks or gaps.
  • It supports future layout changes: If your flooring covers the whole kitchen area, you can easily reconfigure your cabinetry in the future. This should lengthen the lifespan of your flooring and mean that you get better value for money from your investment.

Why it’s better to install cabinetry first

Those that recommend putting cabinetry in first are usually more cost-conscious. They are generally trying to limit wasted materials and minimise unnecessary expenses. They are often also more concerned about the potential for damage to the new surfaces during renovations.

With this in mind, the main benefits of installing cabinets first are:

  • It’s usually cheaper: While cutting your flooring around your cabinetry may take a little longer, it also reduces the amount of flooring required. Depending on the flooring material used, this could mean a significant cost saving.
  • It minimises the potential for damage: Flooring goes through a lot during a kitchen renovation. There are multiple tradespeople walking on it and heavy objects (like the cabinetry) that need to be carried over it. So, laying your flooring after most of the work has been finished limits the risk of scratching and marking.
  • It suits all flooring types: Some flooring materials simply shouldn’t be run underneath cabinetry. For example, hardwood expands and contracts as temperatures change and can buckle when pinned down by cabinets. And most floating floor solutions are not rated to take the weight of kitchen cabinets.

You can also but the flooring straight into bottom kickers thereby alleviating any gaps that water might seep underneath.

So… which should go in first?

As the above shows, there are pros and cons to both of these approaches. As such, which you choose will really depend on the materials you’re using and your personal preference.

That being said, we generally recommend laying your flooring after installing your cabinetry to help keep down costs. We also generally suggest leaving your kickboards off your cabinets until your flooring is laid. This allows your flooring to be run slightly under your cabinets to create a cleaner look.

If you’d like to discuss this further or need help planning your kitchen update, give Kitchen Shack a call. Our experienced team are experts in the renovation process and can help you develop your project schedule.

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