Cabinets and Hardwood Flooring Before or After

When doing a kitchen project the first question that comes up is should the hardwood floors be installed before or after the cabinets? The correct answer is not as simple as it might seem. First we must consider how your hardwood flooring will be installed. Floating, nail down, or glue down? If installing a floating floor, the answer is simple. Install the cabinets first because heavy cabinetry cannot sit on top of a floating floor or it will restrict movement and increase the chances of flooring separation. However, when installing a wood flooring nail down or glue down, there are more factors to consider.

Traditionally hardwood flooring is more commonly installed prior to the cabinets and sanded and finished as one of the last steps, but with the increasing popularity of prefinished hardwood flooring the risks of damage during installation becomes greater.


What are the benefits to installing my hardwood flooring first?

  • Your cabinet layout can later be changed without the hassle of finding replacement wood flooring for your existing hardwood.
  • Ease of installation for the hardwood flooring and the removal of unnecessary cutting of all the nooks and cranny of the kitchen.


What are the benefits of installing my cabinetry first?

  • Prevent hardwood flooring from being damaged.
  • Will not need to worry about un-level hardwood flooring because hardwood flooring requires a flat subfloor, but cabinets require a level surface to install over.


Final Thoughts…

When planning the project together, the benefits of installing your hardwood flooring first outweigh the benefits of installing cabinets before hardwood. Damage to hardwood flooring can be prevented by covering up your wood flooring with protection. Hardwood flooring with rough finishes and distressed looks may help to hide small scratches that may occur during the project.

For your next wood flooring project, remember to first check the method of installation before deciding hardwood or cabinets first. If you have the option of installing hardwood first, that is the preferred method for a job well done.