Installing Cabinets Over Carpet

No two ways about it you have to cut the carpet back. August 13, 2007

I have been doing mostly kitchen and bath cabinets in my one man shop. I usually end up installing what I build.

I have been asked to build some home office built-in cabinet/bookshelves for a client. The cabinets will be 36 inches tall and the bookshelves will mount on top of the base cabinets and go up to within 3 inches of the ceiling and then crown will finish it out. There will be 5 different base/shelf units and they will fit along one wall and in between two walls. I am looking for information on installing these units with regard to the fact that the client has carpeted floors. Seems like leveling will be a chore.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor F:
I made the mistake of installing a set of floor to ceiling bookcases on top of a carpeted floor once. After the cases were loaded with books, they gradually settled and the crown pulled away from the ceiling and had to be caulked and repainted. I would talk them into having the carpet modified (pulled back and then refitted).

From contributor R:
I had the same situation and the customer didn't want to have the carpet pulled up and recut. I put leveling feet in the base cabinets and cut holes in the carpet so the feet went to the slab floor. Then it was simple to level. Of course you need to get the customer's approval before cutting holes in their carpet.

From contributor D:
I agree with contributor F. The carpet needs to be cut out to install properly. If the customer insists on installing over carpet, I would have them assume all responsibility for any problems that arise.

From contributor J:
Cut the carpet. Always explain to the customer ahead of time that this will need to be done. If they prefer, we will roll the carpet out of our way and they can hire a carpet professional to return when we are done. Or, for a nominal charge, we will do it instead. We usually do it ourselves. We remove the tackless along the wall and reuse it in front of the cabinetry. More often than not, the baseboard or kick plate of our unit will land over the cut edge.

From contributor M:
The main reason that the carpet should be removed is that your cabinets should outlast the carpet. I have done remodels where the cabinets were set on carpet. When the carpet needs replaced, there are only two things that can be done. One is move the cabinets, which nobody wants to do, or spend a lot of time on your hands and knees trying to hack the carpet out from underneath with a utility knife. It seems that no matter how hard you try, there are always little tufts and strings peeking out.