Cabinets or Flooring—Which to Install First?

Posted November 2, 2019 by Elise Le Sage

Ready to remodel? On the journey to your dream kitchen, you’ll likely run into a few key questions. One of the most common queries we get is whether cabinets or flooring should be installed first. The answer can vary depending on a few variables but, for the most part, we advise you install cabinets first.  

Check out our list to find out why and to see which method is better for you.  

Install cabinets first to… 

Person holding a bunch of $100 bills.
Try waiting to install flooring before appliances and cabinets because it could help save you more than if you installed it first.

Save Money

Why waste money of flooring you won’t see? If you install flooring first, some of it is bound to hide beneath your appliances and cabinets. There’s really no need to panel these obscured areas. Go easy on your wallet by saving floor installation for last.  

A person laying down flooring.
Installing your cabinets first will allow for the flooring to expand from temperature differences for the best fitting.
Image: Best Laminate

Allow floor to expand

Many types of floors—including click-lock, hardwood, and floating flooring—expand due to changes in temperature and humidity. If you install wall-to-wall flooring, the panels may run out of room to expand. Install cabinets first to avoid this issue.  

Modern living room with oak colored flooring and pops of blue walls and furniture.
Arrange your kitchen before laying down panels for a scratch-free floor.

Keep floor scratch-free

 In the bustle of kitchen remodeling, you’re bound to have a mishap or two. Don’t let a dropped wrench or dragged appliances scuff your brand-new flooring. Arrange your kitchen before lying floor panels down. 

A person wiping a mess on a floor.
Wait to do your flooring until after painting so you won’t make a mess on your new flooring.
Image: Love To Know

Avoid paint spills

Finishing your kitchen with a fresh coat of paint? You may want to hold off on flooring until after the paint dries. We recommend painting first, installing cabinets second, and installing floors last.  

Install flooring first when… 

Wood flooring panels stacked on each other.
To avoid uneven flooring install floor panels or plywood risers underneath to level it out.

Your flooring is higher than normal

Some flooring is an inch or two higher than average. If this is the case, install either floor panels or plywood risers beneath your cabinets to even the level. Check with your manufacturer to see if your floors are within normal height range. 

A modern white kitchen with a green wall. All the furniture and flooring are pieced together in a finished kitchen.
Before installing flooring know how you plan to use it and if you think you’re going to change your layout often try putting the floors in first.

You want a flexible floor plan

If you’re the type that likes to shake things up, you may want to install flooring first. Cabinets and appliances without flooring underneath are much harder to move. If you foresee yourself craving layout change, we advise you cover your kitchen in wall-to-wall flooring first.  

If you have any more remodeling questions, the design experts at Cabinets To Go are always happy to help. Find a showroom near you to start making your dream kitchen a reality today!