Accomodating Flooring Thickness in New Construction Cabinet Installs

Cabinet installers debate whether to jack up cabinet heights when installing cabs before finish flooring is down. November 11, 2005

On new construction cabinet installs, builders do not usually have tile or other flooring materials completed in the kitchen or bath areas. Do any of you jack up the base cabs to compensate for floor thickness, prior to flooring completion?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
Only upon customer/contractor request.

I block up the cabinets 1/4" for tile and 13/16" for hardwood.

Bases are built 35 1/4" here, so a built-up floor is no problem. I make mine 35" because the most common counter thickness is 1" these days.

From the original questioner:
I have had many people come down on me for jacking the bases up for flooring compensation, plus it is a pet peeve of mine to have my kicks buried.

The standard height for kitchen cabinets is 36" from finished floor. We always keep this in mind when setting the base cabinets in order for dishwashers and built in ranges to fit correctly.

We don't install cabinetry until the jobsite is ready for furniture. That means finished flooring is down. Power is on and the HVAC system has been active for at least a week. There are no exceptions on this for us. We don't endear many contractors with this policy, but they are not our core client.

For hardwood floors, best case scenario is flooring is laid and rough sanded before base cabs are set. Then you don't have to install on a finished surface. When install of cabs is complete, the floor man finish sands and seals.

For tile, I try to talk them into tiling the kick faces. Tile is tough, so I don't care if it goes in before or after my work. Only .375" thick, so not much cab height difference. I charge extra to install on top of vinyl.

I almost always build my kicks separately. It is easy for me to level and install them and have the contractor do all of his flooring and other trades do their work, and then I install my cabinets and they usually do not take too much of a beating. I also jack them up as much as is necessary to accommodate the finished floor.

From the original questioner:
I do exactly the same. This method seems to work best for me, dealing with other trades.

When I was taught to install cabinets, one of the first questions we asked before pulling out any tools (with the exception of a tape and a 6 foot level) was what type of appliances they are getting. Once you establish that, there is T.C., then you have to lift up that area so it will fit after the floor goes in. Most other appliances have a lot of play up and down, like a dishwasher, but then you have all of those new, popular wine coolers and some of those have no room for error. I don't know how you can get away with not lifting up the cabinets, because in the end, if you're a licensed sub, it is you who will have to come back and reinstall the cabs as well as pay for a new countertop. My advice is to check everything before you even start and lift it up or explain to the homeowner or the general why you are charging extra to lift everything and get a signed change order before you start. It only makes sense.

Because of the time frame, we can not always be there before the tile or hardwood guys, in the order preferred for installation. We will block up 3/4 for tile and hardwood. Too many builders these days wanting pre-finished hardwoods put them in way after we are gone. If the floor is concrete for tile, I raise them none.