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Question DetailsAsked on 10/1/2013

is it better to install tile flooring under kitchen cabinets or not?

One contractor is quoting to install the tile flooring then install new kitchen cabinets on top, the second recommend installing cabinets first then lay the tile.

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3 Answers


The reasons to install the tile first are;

1. Water leaks from refrigerator,ice maker, dishwasher, etc. will not seep easily into the cabinets, as they are not below the tile,they are above it. Could save a lot of damage.

2. The tile guy should charge less labor , as he doesn't have to make all the cuts around the cabinets.

3. Looks better without all the grout around cabinets


Answered 7 years ago by BayAreaAC


I have done kitchens both ways and the finished product looks the same. As far as advantages to tiling under the cabinets it will allow changes in cabinets later since the tile is there and even if you do a complete cabinet remodel down the road if you pick a tile that is of a classic look it may work with a new layout. I have had to make changes to kitchens to allow for handicap needs by the sink and this would help in that case. Water leaks in my opinion are not a major concern but with the tile under the cabinets it would let you notice a leak in the dishwasher or refrigerator sooner because it will run over the floor and not under it between the tile and subfloor. If your floor is out of level it may speed the cabinet install if the tile is installed in a workman like manner. A good installer can level the cabinets with shims but in extreme cases it can show in the toe kick reveal. I had one case where I had to remove newly installed cabinets that were put on a floor that was out 1 5/8 inches in 8 feet and the homeowner did not find out till the granite was being installed and they found out the counter would be at a different height on each side of the stove. If you pick out an expensive tile you could save a bit depending on the size of the kitchen, my own it would save about 60 SF of tile and labor.

Either way will work and should look the same.


Answered 7 years ago by ContractorDon


If you DO tile in under the cabinets, there is no water seal at the cabinet base as there would be if there was base or shoe put there, which would stop water from going under the cabinets. Therefore, if you get a leak, spill on the floor, or flood the floor, the liquid will go in under the cabinet base along the lower grout lines and can mold there, or cause delamination of the base plywood or veneer, and soak into the subfloor. Your best bet is to tile to the walls and caulk that interface (you don't want shoe or base there as it will keep cabinets from going all the way in), linoleum or vinyl in the cabinet under the sink INCLUDING a few inches up the walls inside so any leak there comes out the doors, tile with base in the dishwasher and clothes washer (if in kitchen alcove) and stove and reefer recesses so those areas are waterproofed at the edge, then when the cabinets are put down put a rubber seal or silicone caulk under the front edge, so water cannot run in under the cabinets.

The only two negatives to doing this are the caulk or seal can leave a mark on the tile if you ever changed to shallower cabeints (though can be removed with some effort), and if the water pipes leak behind the cabinets then the water can not get out to the kitchen floor, so can leak downstairs before you notie it. However, this is far less common than leaks under the sink, from the washer or dishwasher, or spills on the floor.

If you do tile under the cabinets, be sure to get level specification from the cabinet/countertop contractors to provide to the tile contrator, because he is then going to have to be the one to level any uneven flooring, instead of the casbinet installer levelling with shims.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD

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