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Should I tile under kitchen cabinets?

wolffdog's picture

I am remodeling my kitchen.  I will be putting tile over durock.  Should I have the tile put under the island and the cabinets?  I have gotten views both ways.  I know tiling under the cabinets will cost more, but will it be better?  I plan on using 20 x 20    tiles

And you'll get the same here............ (post #196716, reply #1 of 9)

Man, this question is asked and the usual answers given.  And that's a good thing. 

You 'll get some here and when I come back from my neighbors (the wolff's with two f's) I might join in.


Best of luck. 

And know this-either way, you'll never be completely right nor wrong in this one. 

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Like Cal says... it can go (post #196716, reply #2 of 9)

Like Cal says... it can go either way. This question pops up every month or two.

If the cabs are in, fastened, stable, and being used, you probably don't want to rip them out do you?

If it's a brand new kitchen without cabs, or if you're going to change the cabs, then you could tile underneath once they are gone.

It can be done either way.

I prefer that the flooring extend under the dishwasher at least (post #196716, reply #3 of 9)

I once had to take off a 12-ft counter top, with the sink in it, and the back splash with it, to replace a dishwasher because the recently installed tile on backer board floor had made a 3/4-inch lip that the dishwasher cound not be lifted over without removing counter top.  I now have a very strong opinion on this.  One of those go help out a buddy on Saturday morning projects, that ate two weekends.

The dishwasher had adjustable feet that were most of the way out, and we would have had enough room to get it out if we could have lowered them.  But, we couldn't get to them with out getting the dishwasher out.  When the dishwasher is on a flat floor, you can just get in there with a wrench.  But, with the lip in the way, there was no way to get the wrench on the adjuster.  One of those law of unforseen consequences things. 

I am now a big fan of any flooring extending at least under the dishwasher. 

When I was building tract homes, it was dependant on the type of flooring to be installed.  Sheet vinyl was installed after the cabinets were in.  Because it was easy to damage, and impossible to repair.  Tile and hardwood floors went in first.  Because, they are more durable, and could be repaired if the cabinet guy dinged them. 

Our new(ish) Bosch has rear (post #196716, reply #6 of 9)

Our new(ish) Bosch DW has rear legs that can be adjusted from the front.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Are you getting new cabinets? (post #196716, reply #4 of 9)

You say you are remodeling... If you are putting in new cabinets, I would go under the cabinets. If not, I fully agree with the above statement that you should go under the dishwasher at the very least. This might require that you raise the level of the countertops if the dishwasher won't fit with the aditional floor height.. 

If your tile is very expensive, you wouldn't have to actually tile under the cabinets.  You could use plywood to raise the level of the cabinets to the level of the floor.  Personally, I prefer to tile under the cabinets, but if someone is putting in $15 per square foot tiles, it can get expensive for something that will be hidden under the cabinets.  Tiling right under the cabinets means that you can install all the tile and not have as many cuts to worry about, and your cuts against the wall will be covered, so if they aren't perfect it doesn't matter as much.

Alright........ (post #196716, reply #5 of 9)

the beer was cold at the Wolffs.


Whatever way you decide, know (mark it out) the layout of the cabinets.  If you are tempted to tile b/4 setting cabs, layout the cabinets on the floor.  Nothing worse than a grout line running wrong with a cabinet toe kick.  Easy to do when the room os a bit off and you just go with measure off this wall.................


Sometimes a cabinet footprint dictates the tile layout, rather than the room.


And once it's down.........

it's done.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


I once asked this same (post #196716, reply #7 of 9)

I once asked this same question. Among the many responses I received at the time, I liked this suggestion best:

If base cabs are not already installed, fur them all to a height approximately equal to the thickness of material(s) that will make up the finished flooring around them. This applies ONLY to fixed cabinetry. The areas under the dishwasher, refrigerator, compactor, etc. would include finished flooring. Factor the adjusted height into the upper cabinet placement as well.

This allows for easier installation and/or removal of cabinets, flooring and appliances. I do my own work in most cases, and if something needs attention later, I'm usually the one who has to tackle it. So, future access is always important to me.

Also bear in mind that the symmetry of the tile pattern can be noticeably disrupted by the cabinet layout. For this reason, and the reasons cited above, I plan to tile "to" my cabinets and not under them.

My two-cents worth,



  When doing a new kitchen (post #196716, reply #8 of 9)


When doing a new kitchen cab install, I always install the flooring 1st and go wall to wall.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't do a layout of both the cabs and the flooring (especially tile )

before you start installing anything, since you are using 20 x 20 tiles you will be near the front edge of the cabs

with your grout line, so you may want to lay out the tile from the center of the room

rather than from one end of the room,spending an hour or so ahead of time will result in a better looking project.

There's no need to do any shimming or "blocking" to accomadate areas you're not tiling and if you ever change anything

down the road (new fridge, stove D/W, etc...) you won't need to worry about doing any patching, just pull out the old and slide in the new.

It's much more labor intensive to cut around your finished cabs than installing in an open room, and your less

 likely to damage the cabs during the flooring install if there are no cabs. in the way.

  Use 1/4" Luan to protect your finished floor during cabinet install if needed.

  Another reason is that it helps to protect the sub floor if  for instance you were to have a large spill and it were to

run under the cabs, without a finished floor you are more likely to have some subfloor damage and leakage through the



It'll definitely look better (post #196716, reply #9 of 9)

It'll definitely look better if you use good textures and colors. you should fit the tiles under the cabinet !