What Should Be Installed First - Hardwood Floor or Kitchen Cabinets

So you find yourself starting a full-on kitchen renovation project or you are considering how the kitchen in your new home would look like… Wait for a second, you forgot to consider one of the most important aspects of the whole project – do you install your floor first or do you start with the cabinets and then proceed with the floor. Indeed, this is a question a lot of people find themselves struggling with. And the correct answer to it is not as simple and as straightforward as you expect. So no single wood flooring specialist could provide you with a straight answer without inspecting the individual specifics of your project and kitchen. Therefore, whenever you are at the start line of a kitchen renovation project, make sure to discuss your plans, requirements, and desires with a professional with experience and knowledge in the field and then proceed to keep in mind their recommendations.

First and foremost, whenever the dilemma is whether to have the kitchen cabinets installed first or the hardwood flooring fitted at the beginning, the wood floor installation specialist would first consider the installation method of choice that is most suitable for the space and your projects. There is a significant difference whether you will choose a glue-down, nail-down or floating wood floor installation. When it comes to the installation of a floating engineered wood floor, there is not much to think about and it is pretty simple – the cabinets should be installed first. Now, cabinetry is pretty heavy and chunky, therefore, it cannot simply sit on top of a floating wood floor, otherwise, it will restrict the movement and this way it will increase the risk of a number of wood flooring issues, including separation, splitting of the floorboards, unfixed or even broken boards, etc. 

However, when it comes to a nail-down or a glue-down wood floor installation, there are other factors you should consider and pay attention to in order to make sure you are making the right choice for your project. The classic and most common approach involves hardwood flooring being nailed or glued down before the cabinets are installed. In case the wooden floor is not a prefinished one, it can also be sanded and finished as the last step of the whole project. This will help you have all the imperfections like scratches, scuffs, dents, marks, and stains caused by the installation of the cabinets later removed and you will be able to enjoy a flawless wooden floor along with beautiful and functional cabinetry. However, when it comes to prefinished wood flooring, there is a high risk of the floor getting damaged, scratched, and distressed during the installation of the cabinets. 

Installing the Hardwood Floor First – Benefits

• You can easily change the layout of the cabinetry later on and you don’t need to find additional wood flooring materials to match the rest of the floor perfectly

• It is easier to install the hardwood floor this way as it will be a traditional fitting project and a straightforward one, no need for all the weird cutting and detailed job when it comes to the specific nooks and corners.

Installing the Cabinetry First – Benefits

• No need to worry or deal with damages and issues with the hardwood floor

• You also don’t need to worry about un-level hardwood flooring, since hardwood flooring and its installation require a flat and even subfloor, however, cabinets still require a level service to install over

However, at the end of the day, it is apparent that the benefits of having your hardwood floor installed first outweigh the benefits of having the cabinetry installed first. In order to protect your hardwood floor from damages and imperfections caused during the cabinetry installation process, make sure the floor is covered well and not even a single corner is exposed. 


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