How to Support "Floating" Base Cabinets

      These cabinets are supposed to have a deeply recessed toe kick so they appear to be floating above the floor. What about the structure? November 19, 2006

Wow! that's all I can say about the information that I have been able to glean from these forums. I am brand new to the cabinet building business and am in the process of getting my business going. My first job is to build out a kitchen that has floating base cabinets. The toe kick needs to be 6" high and set back 12" to give the illusion that the cabinets are indeed floating. I am unsure of how these base cabinets will stand up over time... Do I need to support the front 12 inches of these cabinets? If I do, how can I accomplish this in the most unobtrusive manner?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor F:
I assume these are face framed. I would make the bottoms out of 3/4" stock securely fastened to the sides. Also fasten through the bottom to something locked into the kick space.

From contributor D:
I'd say you could set the toe kick back less than 12" and get the same effect. It would probably start to disappear around 7" or so. Go with a color similar to the floor, maybe a little darker; black might work depending on the surroundings.

From contributor J:
If these are frameless, you could cheat by using 1" thick ply for the cabinet bottoms. This would definitely beef them up a bit. If framed, I agree with contributor F. Remember, wall cabinets are 12" of unsupported bottom. All the weight supported by the backs. The base may be abused more, so a little extra in the construction can't hurt.

From contributor T:
Your cabinets should be able to give the impression that they are floating with the dimensions that you have given. The cabinet must be securely fastened to a wall cleat through the back of at least 1/2" thickness. If the cabinet were set off the floor at least 10", then it will give a better floating look. Also, if you include an intense bottom light (like white neon), then the illusion of floating will be greatly enhanced because the recessed base will be totally obliterated from view.

From contributor P:
Thank you all for your responses. I am building frameless cabinets which will be made of melamine. The ideas that you have come up with will definitely improve my project. I'm thinking of incorporating the following aspects. 1) extra material on the bottom of the cabinet, 2) change the recess to something less than 12", 3) use a toe kick the same color as the floor, and finally 4) use a base lighting to illuminate the float.

From contributor L:
I think the rule of thirds could be applied here, so I would suggest no more than 8 inches of cantilever for the cabinet. It's a guess, but has a structural base.

From contributor O:
We have made some floating vanities (frameless melamine) with no toe. The back was 3/4" and rabbeted into the sides. Bottom was just 3/4", but for a kitchen, I think I would stiffen the fronts of the bottom with an apron or something, since they won't have a base to support them and there will likely be more weight in bottom kit cabs than in a vanity.

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