Ask Rick - Laminate Flooring and Cabinet Installation

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I've seen this on a show once where they put the flooring (laminate) flush up against the cabinets, rather than doing all floors first THEN putting in cabinets. I think it was just for their demo purposes, but I'm wondering if that's okay to do? or will it look bad?



Over the years this question has come up with many of the homeowners I have remodeled kitchens for. There are a few rules of thumb to take into account.

First, if you have the opportunity to install new cabinets where a new laminate floor is going to be installed there are problems with installing the floor under the cabinets. Most newer laminate floors are meant to be allowed to move. With varying degrees of humidity and fluctuating room temperature changes, expanding and contracting can take place and if you lock the floor under the cabinets, you will prevent the floor from doing what is natural.

It would seem then that the solution would be to install the flooring up against the cabinets. However, keep in mind that whenever you install the floor up against the cabinets, you will loose countertop height. That is, if your countertops were set at 36" off the floor and you install a 1/2" flooring up against the cabinets, now your countertops will be 35 1/2" from the new laminate flooring. This may not seem like much, but if you are tall, every little bit of height counts.

The solution that I have always used was to install plywood the same thickness as the flooring under the cabinets and then install the flooring up against the plywood edges. Now you will install a shoe mold or other molding over top of the new laminate floor, but make sure you attach the molding to the cabinets and not the floor. This again, will allow the flooring to move without restriction. With the molding installed up against the cabinets it will cover up any signs that there is plywood under the cabinets.

Now you will maintain the countertop height and install the flooring up against the cabinets (Plywood) and not interfere with any shifting of the flooring.

Another thing to note is that when you install the flooring it is best to give it a little clearance from the walls and cabinets and again make sure that when you install the molding, nail it to the walls, baseboard or cabinets and not to the flooring.

You can find out more about flooring installations and techniques, by clicking on the following link.
Floor Coverings How To

Plus, check out some great flooring videos on the subject as well by clicking on the following link.

Floor Covering Videos

I hope this will help you out.

Rick Maselli
Founder of




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