Installing Cabinets When Carpet Has Been Laid

Thoughts on how to handle the business and technical problems raised when a GC asks the cabinet installer to follow the carpet installer in the job sequence. August 31, 2009

We are ready to have our ladder bases and cabs installed, and learned that the carpet was already put in (to keep up with the unrealistic schedule). When I told the GC this was a problem, he said we have to cut out carpet around our bases. This stuff is 100% glued down. When I mentioned it to the installer, he balked and said how difficult it is to cut commercial carpet cleanly and not rip a thread right through the room. Then dealing with the glue and how much extra it was going to cost... So, what is your take on this? Should I have to absorb additional expense when no one told me about the carpet until it was too late? This is another example of things holding up the start date, but them never changing the finish date.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor M:
Do you have to remove the carpet?

From the original questioner:
Having researched these forums, it seems the majority of folks think that removing the carpet is a must. I am concerned that since the ladder bases have virtually no weight unto themselves, they would be impossible to level and plumb without a load on the soft surface. And, since our tolerances for door and drawer alignment are so tight (all frameless, 3mm gaps), the results would be awful.

From contributor M:
In that case, cut the carpet to fit and remove the rest of the carpet and charge the builder/GC. I don't believe in putting carpet in before cabinets.

From contributor J:
Call me vindictive, but I'd simply remove all the carpet from the entire room and throw it in the dumpster. Makes future work with the GC difficult, though. Your call on that one.

However, as an easy "I'm offering an olive branch of cooperation, to show I care" solution, just get a pipe, grind a sharp edge on one end, a pipe cap on the other, and use it to punch out discs in the carpet, and scrape them up with an old chisel. This will allow full contact on the shims to the ladder. Works well with adjustable feet, but might work just as well with shims.

From contributor O:
I agree with contributor J. The last job that I did over carpet we also used the leg levelers, so we just cut holes for the leveler bases using a hole cutter running backwards. As far a getting up the glued pieces of carpet, I would recommend a Fein Multimaster with a scraper blade.

From contributor B:
This is not your job! I would either tell the GC that he has to get a carpet installer to do it, or put the cabinets over the carpet.

From the original questioner:
Well, thanks for all the responses. Today was the day. I met with the super on the job, who felt it should be "no big deal" for us to cut out the carpet around our ladder bases. I told him we would, but I need to pay the installers extra and I expect them to cover the additional cost. He told me that would be an issue for his boss. I told him I can not continue to absorb all these extra costs (like the additional blocking that was supposed to have been done by the framing crew, but wasn't, that he threw at me today), so we'll see.

From contributor Z:
Don't touch it until the GC accepts the responsibility for the carpet! Otherwise you will have to pay for the whole shooting match if anything goes wonky.

From contributor T:
I have solved the light kick/can't level problem by screwing down .5" ply to the floor. You'd probably need Tapcons, though. I guess you would need to have room in your kick for the carpet and the ply. I have even used .25" on Berber carpet with success.