Should Laminate Flooring Be Installed Under Cabinets?

A common question for house owners, it requires them to be fully informed before they dive into the installation as there are pros and cons related to it.

There are a few risks related to laminated flooring under kitchen appliances, and it causes homeowners who are renovating their kitchen to often be in a dilemma. It is a big project for many, and they want it to turn out perfectly for obvious reasons. 

Should laminate flooring be installed under cabinets?

Heavy objects are not recommended to sit on laminated flooring. Especially, cabinets or equipment that have the function of being bolted to the floor on a permanent basis should not be placed on top of it. For that, it is suggested to use an engineered flooring that can be glued down instead.

This floating floor can run under appliances that are considered light enough to be mobile. Since laminate flooring is meant to float it is suggested to not carry heavier objects.

This is because heavy objects can hinder the natural contraction and expansion process of the flooring. 

Pros:

Prevent Moisture:

The fiberboard has a backup of a bottom layer that is tended in a way to prevent any damage that might be the result of moisture. 

Stability:

Laminate flooring ensures stability for most equipment and prevents any seams from unraveling in times of humidity changes. 

Cons:

Possible Damage:

Installing equipment on top of a newly laminated flooring may add pressure and pin down the floor.

As a result, the flooring will not be allowed to expand or contract according to temperature changes which will lead to buckling and separation at the joints. This might end up permanently ruining your flooring system.

Prone To Moisture:

Even the best quality laminate flooring might be prone to moisture damage. Especially in a tricky area like a kitchen, you will be more ought to be careful about spills and splashes. 

Reinstallation Hassle:

Since it is not real wood, once worn out it will have to be replaced instead of refinished as normal wood would be. Cheap laminate flooring must be avoided.  

Should laminate flooring be installed around cabinets?

It is recommended to install the cabinets straight on the cement subfloor. Then the remaining areas, such as around the cabinets, are where the flooring should be installed.

This means that the flooring will easily be able to expand and contract according to the temperature changes and not cause any hassle or damage.  

Pros:

Cost Friendly:

It is a cheaper alternative to real wood and recently there have been many upgrades. Starting from rustic and antiques to more exotic versions such as Prado, this will provide you with any look that you are aiming for.

Durability:

The top is polished with a transparent and tough layer that is resistant to any scratches. This makes it easier to be maintained and limited to sweeping once in a while to keep the surface free from abrasion. Waxing is not needed.

Maintenance:

The wear layer on top resists any kind of stain. 

Functionality:

If an underlayment is added, it gives the floor a springy feel and makes it easy to stand on for long periods of time. 

Cons:

Installation Hassle:

Boards can be difficult to join sometimes. If it is forced into place you might end up compromising the floor’s ability to resist moisture if the top wear layer gets curled. 

Usage:

Without the underlayment, it might feel unnaturally hard to walk on. And since it is still synthetic at the end of the day, it makes a harsh sound when walking.

Damage Due to Moisture:

It will not tolerate heavy moisture such as a kitchen leak. Excessive water can cause swelling.  

Also read, Can you put laminate flooring under toilet and sink?

How to install laminate flooring under cabinets?

Laminate flooring is pretty easy to install as it only requires snapping each section together. It does not require the additional usage of glue or staples. 

Step 1: The floor must be checked for flatness. Installing laminate floor over an uneven floor can result to creaks. A self-leveling compound should be used for any spots that are sunk down. Let it dry. 

Step 2: The floor should be laid in place and ¼ inch spacers should be used for the perimeter of the floor. For the cupboards, a ¼ inch gap should be left between the edge of the flooring and the cupboard. This will leave room for expansion. 

Step 3: The 1/4 inch gap between the laminate and the wall around the areas where moisture might be a problem should be silicone caulk. This will ensure a water seal that will prevent any damage in the near future. Leave it to dry.  

Step 4: The quarter-round mold covering the ¼ inch expansion gap bordering the perimeter of the floor should be replaced. Nails should be used to secure the moulding in place. The molding should then be nailed into the wall and not the laminate. 

How do you install and finish laminate flooring around kitchen cabinets? 

It is suggested to install laminate flooring after the kitchen cabinets are installed. Though it might make it all the more tricker to install, but the extra measurements are worth the calculated effort. 

Step 1: Take your planks and estimate what you have against the total area that needs to be covered. Keep in mind that it is very important to read the instructions that come with the product.  

Step 2: One row of the laminate should be laid down on a completely flat surface. And it should be continued to do so for all the rows. Each tooth must be fixated into the right joint in every plank.  

Step 3: It must be ensured that all the pieces are laid down in a firm position avoiding any bumps or creaks until it reaches the edge of the cabinet. 

Step 4: The space between the last laminate plank and cabinet should be measured. The exact length of flooring should then be cut for it to properly fit in. The edge planks must be worked through against the cabinet sides.  

Step 5: A circular saw can be used to cut off the teeth parts and make the sides of the plank flat if there is not enough space at the bottom of the cabinets. Then that space must be fitted in and made flattened with the others. 

Step 6: Wood Glue may be used between any gaps so that it holds itself firmly. It must be ensured that everything is done neatly. Correct measurements will avoid too much cutting and re-cutting. 

How do you remove laminate from under cabinets? 

This task might seem really difficult as a normal saw will not do the job due to the lack of space. However, a special kind of tool called toe-kick saw will make the procedure easier. 

Step 1: The cutting depth of the toe kick saw must be adjusted according to the thickness of the laminated flooring.  

Step 2: The saw must be held at an angle of 45 degrees with respect to the cabinet. Then the blade must be inserted under the toe kick. A clearance of 3 and a half inches is needed at the very least to get it under.  

Step 3: The base of the saw should then be dropped to the floor to make the tool horizontal. It should then be moved to the far right of the section that will be cut so that it can be drawn from left to right.  

Step 4: Both of the handles then should be gripped and the start button pressed. When the blade reaches top speed, the guard should be pushed against the cabinet and the blade lowered into the flooring.  

Step 5: It should be drawn slowly along the base of the cabinet until the other end. Then turn it off and lift it off the floor. Pull it from underneath the cabinet.  

Step 6: For the areas that the saw can’t reach, a hammer or chisel should be used to finish off those areas. If the hammer can’t be reached, the uncut floorboards will have to be broken in order to remove the flooring. The chisel can then be used to clean it up. 

Do you put laminate flooring under appliances? 

It is not uncommon for cheaper flooring to go underneath appliances. However, since laminate flooring is a floating floor you ought to be careful about the appliances that go under. It is important to keep in mind to not put anything heavy on top of it as it adds pressure. 

Dishwasher:

If the floor finish is anchored to the subfloor then general flooring is possible. However, laminate isn’t the best option as it is a floating floor and is sensitive to extreme moisture. It will be an extreme hassle if the dishwasher ever needs to be replaced. 

Baseboard:

The baseboard can be removed during the installation process and reused with the laminate flooring. It will secure the floating floor in place and also give it a cleaner appearance. 

Stove:

It is recommended to put cheap tiles under the stove as it can leave deep scratches on the flooring. A ¼ inch plywood should be laid out so that it does not mar the flooring. 

Oven:

Since there isn’t any risk of water spillage here, laminate flooring under an oven should be fine. 

Refrigerator:

The weight of it can stress the tongue and groove of the laminate flooring and also leave wheel marks. Professionals lay the flooring until the outer edges of the refrigerator. 

Washer and Dryer:

It is recommended not to as it can cause a high risk of damage due to flooding or repeated pool of water falling on the floor. It must be tightly seamed and a pan used under it for precaution. 

Read more, How Much Weight Can Laminate Floor Support?

Since the underneath is not visible it is wiser to save money and resort to directly placing the heavy appliances on the cement.

However, if you are determined to place laminate flooring then be sure to use plywood as a filler piece. Do not forget to leave some gap from the wall to allow some space for contraction and expansion purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions:

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