Cabinet Install: Before or After Tile?

Installers have various views about whether to schedule the cabinet install before ceramic floor tiles are set, or after. August 31, 2009

Can you install the cabinets after the tile is in? I usually install cabinets first. We are putting granite on for countertops.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor J:
Always on top of tile. Always after wood flooring, if possible.

From contributor K:
So, if the floor needs to be changed, you want to pull the cabinets for that? The flooring folks prefer putting the floor in beforehand, so they don't have to work around them. They are just worried about today, though, and not tomorrow.

From contributor E:
I always advise putting the flooring in first, then the cabinetry. Otherwise you have to deal with height differentials, and you still need flooring under the appliances. In my experience there are two different views on this (as you've already seen from the responses) and you're unlikely to change either side's view, so do whichever method you prefer.

From contributor D:
In these situations the two usually go hand in hand - remodeling will 9 times out of 10 be new floor, cabinets, etc. It isn't likely they'll keep the floor and lose the cabinets.

From contributor V:
I prefer to install cabinets on the floated mortar, including toe skins, then have the tile installed. That way the finished skins are buried in the tile and grout and it is harder for water from mopping to get into and ruin them. On wood floors, install cabinets on top of wood.

From contributor T:
Contributor V, you are kidding, right?

From contributor O:
Let the tile guy grout up against my cabinet sides? No way! Sanded grout on finished wood sides - might as well hand him a belt sander, and I'm not getting on my knees to blue tape it and peel it off/clean it up after I am long gone. Did one last year where the homeowner insisted that I install on top of unsanded new oak floor. Gave him all the reasons not to, and the floor guy ran the drum sander into the cabinet in two places! Duh.

From contributor K:
Cabinets are installed after the finished floor. If they want to change flooring at a later date, you don't have to remove the cabinets. All you have to do is pull the kick off, remove the old floor covering, install the new flooring, then put the kick back. Sometimes in commercial kitchens or in hospitals where they use welded vinyl or epoxy, we install the kicks first and they run their flooring up the kick, but otherwise finished floor goes in first.

From contributor M:
You guys are brave! You're not worried about scratches/damage? Every builder/GC that I know puts the floor last. There are just too many trades working in the house after the cabinets go in. You can put down all the paper you want, it's not going to protect against careless subs.

As for nailing down hardwood floor, it goes down before the trim, then it gets finished after everything is trimmed out (plumbing, electrical, etc.). There's no access to the house for a few days when it is getting finished.

For tiles, the idea would be to have the tiles down first. But it works either way. Just make sure the Durock or tile backer is down first. Then install cabinets, then the tiles can go down. There are some that want the tiles down first, which is okay, but if the floor is out, then you end up with gaps, and most of the time the builder/GC does not plan to put shoe mold around. So now, we are the ones who look bad!

From contributor D:
As long as I get paid, I'll put 'em anywhere the check-writer wants 'em. Dirt floors included.

From contributor L:
Flooring always first, and then casework. Commercial or residential, be extra careful on the new strip flooring that looks like wood but is more like linoleum. Even when the check writer wants the floor last, we insist the floor first for dishwasher and range and all the other nightmares sake.

From contributor H:
It looks much cleaner to put the cabs in before the tile. If you put them in after, you end up with gaps between your toe skins and the grout lines at the very least. Add this up with out of level floors (only the best flooring contractors actually float them adequately) and you have some pretty major scribing and/or caulking to do around all of your toe skins. So the tile guy has to tile into the refer and dishwasher openings - it's not that much more difficult to do.

From contributor P:
Wood moves, grout lines crack, and that void fills with whatever they mop the floor with, which ends up being sucked up into the bottom of the cabs. Not good. Set on top of stone and seal all base lines with RTV silicone in the appropriate color so spills and cleaning agents can't run under cabs. This is much more sanitary.