Cabinet Toekicks Integral Versus Field-Applied

      Using a loose toe-kick that applies in the field provides versatility and flexibility but is it worth it? June 12, 2014

Question (WOODWEB Member)


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We manufacture commercial cabinets and case goods. How many of you doing the same use integral toekicks versus loose toekicks? We are considering switching to independent toekicks but have not developed a clever and easy way to install them once in the field. How are you doing it for those using independent toekicks?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor G:
We use loose ladder style kicks. We keep the front and back about 3/4" wider than the cross pieces. We set the base level in with a laser level and taper shims, then scribe the bottom edge to the floor. We then cut this with a jig saw or power hand plane. Once this is done we usually need a few very small shims to make it perfect. We install in a lot of old homes and this makes the out of level floors much easier to deal with. We pay close attention to the dishwasher and stove locations to assure a height there that will accommodate their installation. Also we just make up 8' lengths of base and trim to required length onsite.


From the original questioner

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Your approach makes sense. We install a lot of casework in convenience stores and confront severely un-level concrete surfaces. How do you secure the toe's for the cabinets?


From contributor G:
On normal base cabinets that are screwed to the wall we don't fasten cabs to kicks but on islands or peninsulas, etc. we will install cross piece backers under drawer units and screw through the bottom of the drawer cabinets. If it is not a drawer unit we set the cabinet on the kick and mark the kick on the bottom of the cabinet then flip the cabinet and screw a ledger to the bottom of the cabinet that can be fastened through the front and back of the kick. We use a finish over our kicks so that covers the fasteners. Does that make any sense?

From the original questioner

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To contributor G: Makes perfect sense! What you described is exactly how we thought of doing it.


From contributor L:
We use ladder kicks for cabinets that are similar to kitchens but free standing units are equipped with levelers that are accessed through floor holes. Finished kicks cover the gaps, the access holes are often covered with drawers or false bottoms that also cover the electrical access openings.


From contributor D:
Scribing the actual ladder kick to the floor is a waste of time. Leave it a bit short so you can shim it up to level, and then scribe a finished face to the floor instead of the whole kick. It will save you some install time.


From contributor G:
I scribe the ladder to the floor as a first measure on badly out of level floors. I find the back against the wall is usually high by 1/4" or so, so I zip off that and rough scribe the front. This gets me to the point that I can use very few shims and it doesn't take long if you don't try to make it perfect. If I installed in new construction more I might forgo this but I find all installs benefit from it for me.


From contributor F:
I use the ladder frame method also. I usually make them short by as much as the floor is out. Then when installing I start with the high corner and shim everything up to its level. It doesn't make a difference in my experience new or old - contractors don't go out of their way to make new construction plumb or level. I built and installed a bunch of 30" plus/minus wide doors in a seven story building built in 2001. I had to remove up to 3/8" of material from the bottom of the latch side to account for out of level concrete slab floors! Not many of the old houses I've worked in had floors that varied 3/8" over 30"!


From contributor H:
"We manufacture commercial cabinets and casegoods. How many of you doing the same use integral toekicks versus loose toekicks? We are considering switching to independent toekicks but have not developed a clever and easy way to install them once in the field. How are you doing it for those using independent toekicks."

I can't for the life of me figure out why you would want to switch. For commercial cabinets an integrated toe kick is about as low cost to build as you can get. Once the cabinet is assembled it is done except for the rubber base. If you make a ladder frame there is material to buy, dimensions to figure out and someone has to install it. A cabinet with an integrated toe kick is simply placed on the floor, leveled and you are done. I have done ladder frames and leveling feet and wouldn't use either of those again.



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