Should Hardwood Floor Go Under Cabinets?

When it comes to major kitchen renovations, cabinets and hardwood floors both rank high in importance. When installing either or both in your home, you want to make sure that you're doing it correctly. So when looking to remodel your kitchen, you might find yourself wondering. Should hardwood floors go under cabinets? We have researched the subject for you and written about it down below. 

When installing hardwood floors in your kitchen, there are pros and cons to both, but installing floors before your cabinets generally allows for more benefits in all cases, with one exception. Your cabinets and appliances will have a consistent and proper height above the floors, and this approach offers flexibility in changing your cabinets later. It's safer for your cabinets and provides a cleaner look to your kitchen. 

There's a lot of detail to go into regarding these home suggestions, and there is a suggestion as mentioned. So keep on reading as we dive more into the hows and whys of a perfect kitchen renovation. 

Beautiful white kitchen with dark accents in new farmhouse style luxury home, Should Hardwood Floor Go Under Cabinets?

The benefits to the floor first approach

spot halogen lights under grey kitchen cabinets

As mentioned above, there are several reasons why the pros to placing your hardwood floors in first outweigh any potential cons. Many of them have to do with how your cabinetry and appliances interact with your flooring within a kitchen space. Let's break down some of the benefits clearly in detail. 

Proper Cabinet Height 

Firstly, you're going to want your cabinets to be at a uniform and standard height above your flooring. This norm is typically around 36 inches. Your appliances will want to be the same height so that there aren't issues with any future replacements. Having to tear up a portion of your floor should you need to replace your dishwasher would be incredibly unnecessary at best. 

An alternative to this is to install plywood underneath the cabinets. Keep in mind that while this might seem like a quick money-saver, you still need to purchase the plywood and install it. Labor will also be costly, as this would be a project that requires fine cuts. So the cost benefits might not be as much as you'd like. 

Ability to change cabinets later

Another benefit to having your cabinets installed after your floors is the ability to change them later. Generally speaking, hardwood floors are an investment that should last a good while. This is particularly true when they are given the proper amount of attention and care they deserve.

Hardwood floors can and will, if allowed, outlast cabinets and fashion trends by decades. If you are interested in keeping up with the trends, replacing cabinetry is a far easier and cheaper task. 

Changing cabinets is a reason to have uniform wood in your kitchen, along with better visual aesthetics. Should you decide to change your cabinetry to an updated look, consistent wood will create a much easier experience. This includes the wood underneath your cabinets and appliances, which might seem to go unnoticed. Some styles of cabinets showcase this wood underneath. 

Safer for your cabinets

While installing a floor is a significant undertaking in any room of your home, the purchase of cabinetry is no minor investment either. You're going to want to keep your cabinets safe and clean during the installation process as much as possible.

Installing floors first means you can avoid nicks, scratches, and damage during sanding that your cabinets might endure during the installation process. This is especially pertinent if you have light-colored cabinetry that will noticeably display damage. 

If your cabinets did suffer damage during the installation process, you might be forced to replace the entire cabinet. Your other option would be, of course, to live with the damage sustained. Both of these options come across as immensely wasteful when the alternative is to simply put them in second and reap the benefits mentioned above. 

Read now on HomeDecorBliss: What color kitchen cabinets go with gray floors?

A quick note

Make sure you're protecting your floor during this whole process as well. There might be a necessary gap of time that your floor requires before moving onto more construction. Allow the floor time to dry after being set before anyone walks on it.

Make sure your contractors are properly taking care of their surroundings, including your hardwood floors, and consider adding your final coating of polyurethane at the very end. This will take care of any minor scratches sustained during cabinet installation. 

The flood damage problem

Beautiful white kitchen with dark accents in new farmhouse style luxury home, Should Hardwood Floor Go Under Cabinets?

One situation in which people will insist it's better to have plywood underneath your cabinets is if there is a flood. Should your kitchen area suffer flood damage, the plywood supposedly will keep you from having to rip up your floors. This argument fails to hold water for several reasons.

Firstly, there is plywood underneath your cabinets that would absorb that water anyways. You don't need to add more. Secondly, untreated plywood is likely to cause you more problems than treated hardwood. Hardwood is treated with polyurethane and, therefore, is more water-resistant. 

Also, keep in mind that home insurance or warranty should cover any water damage caused by mechanical failure or faulty appliance issues. It's generally not something you need to fear so much you change your entire kitchen makeup over it. 

The one exception to the floor first rule

We've covered why we believe in the floor first method for hardwood floors in your kitchen above. But we also mentioned a crucial exception in which this method wouldn't be the case, and you should always install this kind of floor second. This is the case for floating hardwood floors. 

What is a 'floating' hardwood floor? 

A floating hardwood floor is so-called because it 'floats' over your pre-existing floor. This type of floor is not glued, nailed, or otherwise permanently fixed to your subfloor. Instead, wood planks are attached to your existing floor and appropriate underlay. To install a floating floor, make sure that your subfloor is clean, flat, and that necessary expansion allowance is made around the perimeter so the floating floor can do just that. Float. 

Why floating floors should go second

The biggest reason that floating floors should go in second is because of their propensity for movement. All wooden floors will move somewhat with changes in humidity. By their nature, however, floating floors move even more than that. If the wood is trapped under a heavy cabinet or appliance, it won't move as freely as it needs. This can cause a lot of issues, including bulging and even breaking. 

Should you put underlayment under kitchen cabinets?

Underlayment may seem like a skippable step, but if you're serious about protecting your hardwood floors and keeping them lasting well into the future, you're going to want to invest. Research the type of underlayment that goes best with the wood you've used for your flooring, and make sure to install it where needed. You'll be thankful you did.

Underlayment helps provide additional support and protection for your hardwood floors which is of particular help when cabinets are resting on top of them. We recommend you spend the additional money and time at this moment for lasting benefit down the road.  

Should wood floors be lighter or darker than cabinets?

Beautiful kitchen in new luxury home with island, pendant lights, and hardwood floors

This one is just a fun ending question you might be wondering now that you grasp how to assemble your kitchen. Should the floors be lighter or darker than the cabinets? As with most questions of color and design, there is no hard and fast 'correct' answer, though many designers tout the beauty of contrasting colors in design.

If your cabinets are light, consider going with a darker floor. Or vice versa. Of course, it is ultimately your home and living space, and your happiness is paramount. 

All things fashion go in and out fairly frequently, but what pleases you in your own living space will never be wrong. 

Read now on HomeDecorBliss: 24 Gorgeous Kitchen Cabinet And Wood Floor Color Combinations.

In Closing 

Hardwood floors are a beautiful addition to any room in the home, including the kitchen. When remodeling, make sure that all steps are taken to ensure the safety of all parts of yours. We hope this article has been helpful to you in mapping out future renovations and striving to increase the beauty of your living space that much more. 

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