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Are you planning a kitchen remodel but unsure where to start? One of the most significant decisions you will need to make is the remodeling order. Should you start with the floors or cabinets? The answer is not always straightforward, and making the wrong decision can result in costly mistakes.

In this article, we will guide you through the decision-making process and provide valuable insights to help you choose the right remodeling order. We will explore the pros and cons of starting with floors before cabinets or vice versa and suggest hybrid approaches that can provide a customized solution.

Understanding the Importance of the Remodeling Order

When it comes to kitchen renovation, the order in which you tackle the various aspects of the remodel can significantly impact the final outcome. The remodeling order determines how efficient the process is, how much stress and hassle you may have to deal with, and how well the end result suits your preferences. In this section, we’ll explore why the remodeling order matters so much and how it can affect your kitchen design and renovation experience.

The Role of the Remodeling Order

The remodeling order refers to the sequence in which you complete the various tasks involved in a kitchen renovation. This can include tearing down walls, changing the layout, installing new floors and cabinets, adding new appliances, and more. A well-planned and executed remodeling order can make the whole process smoother, more efficient, and less stressful. Conversely, a poor remodeling order can cause delays, confusion, and dissatisfaction with the final outcome.

One of the main reasons why the remodeling order matters so much is that it affects the flow and efficiency of the project. In general, you want to avoid redoing or undoing work, as that can be costly and time-consuming. For instance, if you install new floors before cabinets and then realize that you want to make changes to the cabinet layout, you may have to remove the flooring, redo it, or live with a less-than-ideal design. On the other hand, if you install cabinets first and then change your mind about the flooring, you may have to deal with gaps, mismatched heights, or other issues.

To avoid such scenarios, it’s crucial to understand the pros and cons of different remodeling orders and plan accordingly. This includes assessing the condition of existing elements, such as floors and cabinets, and considering factors such as design options, ease of installation, potential damage risks, and overall cost.

Assessing the Condition of Existing Floors and Cabinets

Before starting your kitchen remodel, it’s important to assess the condition of your existing floors and cabinets. This will help determine whether the floors or cabinets need to be replaced or if they can be worked around during the remodeling process.

If your current flooring is in good condition and complements your desired kitchen design, there may be no need to replace it. However, if your flooring is outdated or damaged, it may need to be replaced. Similarly, if your cabinets are in good condition and fit your desired aesthetic, they may be able to be refinished or repainted rather than replaced.

On the other hand, if your cabinets are outdated, damaged, or do not fit your desired design, they may need to be replaced. Similarly, if your current flooring does not match your desired design or is in poor condition, it may need to be replaced.

It’s important to consider the condition of your existing floors and cabinets when deciding on the remodeling order. Starting with flooring before cabinets may be necessary if the existing flooring needs to be replaced. Alternatively, starting with cabinets before flooring may be necessary if the existing cabinets need to be replaced or if the cabinets can be worked around during flooring installation.

Flooring Before Cabinets: Pros and Cons

Starting with the floors before installing cabinets is a popular option for many homeowners. Here are some advantages and disadvantages to consider:

Pros Cons
  • Ease of installation: The absence of cabinets makes it easier to install flooring.
  • Design flexibility: Choosing flooring first opens up more design options for cabinets.
  • Potential cost savings: Some flooring materials can be less expensive than cabinets, making it easier to stick to a budget.
  • Potential damage risks: Cabinets installed on top of finished floors can be easily scratched or damaged during the installation process.
  • More time-consuming: Installing cabinets after the floors are finished can take longer than installing cabinets first, which can prolong the renovation process.
  • Design limitations: Certain cabinet styles may not fit well with certain types of flooring or designs, limiting options.

Protecting Cabinets During Flooring Installation

If you decide to go with flooring before cabinets, it’s important to take steps to protect the cabinets during installation. This can include putting plywood or cardboard over the cabinets or storing them in a different part of the house until the flooring is complete. Be sure to discuss these options with your contractor to ensure that the cabinets are well-protected.

Cabinets Before Flooring: Pros and Cons

In some cases, starting with cabinets before flooring may be the preferred option. Here are the pros and cons of this approach:

Pros Cons
  • Easier installation of cabinets since there is no need to cut or modify the flooring to fit around them
  • Existing floors are better protected during cabinet installation
  • Design limitations can be worked around with creative solutions, such as using a toe-kick material that matches the flooring
  • May require raising or lowering cabinets to match the height of the flooring, which can affect the overall design and storage capacity
  • Difficulties in replacing or modifying cabinets in the future due to the flooring being installed around them
  • Potential cost implications if the flooring needs to be modified or replaced after the cabinets are installed

Ultimately, the decision to start with cabinets before flooring or vice versa will depend on various factors, including personal preferences, the condition of existing floors and cabinets, and budget constraints. It’s important to carefully consider all of these factors before making a decision.

Finding the Right Balance: Hybrid Approaches

When deciding between flooring before cabinets or cabinets before flooring, it’s essential to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Fortunately, there’s always the option of a hybrid approach that provides the best of both worlds.

For instance, suppose you’re planning to install new cabinets and flooring in your kitchen. In that case, you may opt for cabinets before flooring in the main cooking and working areas and flooring before cabinets in the dining and entertaining areas. This approach not only ensures that cabinets are protected during the flooring installation but also creates a seamless flow throughout the space.

Another option could be to create ‘zones’ in the kitchen. For example, you may want to prioritize flooring installation in the kitchen’s cooking and prep area while leaving the cabinet installation until later. This option is useful when a particular area of the kitchen experiences high traffic or heavy use and needs to be completed quickly.

Hybrid Approach Pros Cons
Cabinets before flooring in main working area, flooring before cabinets in dining area Protects cabinets during flooring installation, creates seamless flow in the space Potentially higher cost due to additional material and installation time
Prioritizing flooring installation in high traffic areas, cabinets later Efficient for a specific area that needs to be completed quickly May cause disruption to your kitchen routine, less design flexibility on materials and installation options


Hybrid approaches work best when planned and executed with careful consideration. Always consult with your contractor or designer to determine which approach is best for your unique space and needs.

Consulting with Experts and Professionals

Deciding the remodeling order for your kitchen can be a daunting task, which is why consulting with experts and professionals is highly recommended. Licensed general contractors like Chris Hock from Earth Saving Solutions can provide valuable insights and guidance to ensure that you make the best decision for your remodeling project.

General contractors bring their expertise to the table and can provide an objective assessment of your kitchen renovation needs. They can help you identify potential issues, recommend solutions, and ensure that the entire remodeling process is done smoothly and efficiently.

Additionally, a general contractor can help you in creating a detailed budget, planning the timeline for your project, obtaining the necessary permits, and coordinating with other professionals like architects and electricians. They can also provide you with tips on how to minimize the impact of the renovation on your daily routine.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Planning a kitchen remodel can be an exciting but overwhelming experience. To ensure a successful renovation, it is important to avoid common mistakes that can lead to delays, unexpected costs, and unsatisfactory results. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Poor Planning

One of the most common mistakes homeowners make is not planning the remodel thoroughly. Rushing into the process without clear goals, design ideas, and realistic timelines can lead to costly mistakes and disappointment. It is essential to take the time to research, gather inspiration, and make a detailed plan that includes all aspects of the remodel, such as the order of flooring and cabinets installation.

Underestimating Costs

Another common mistake is underestimating the costs of the remodel. Homeowners often overlook expenses such as permits, labor, materials, and unforeseen issues that can arise during the renovation. Setting a realistic budget from the start and working with professionals to get accurate estimates can help avoid financial surprises later on in the project.

Ineffective Communication

Effective communication with contractors and designers is crucial for a successful kitchen remodel. Misunderstandings and miscommunications can lead to delays, mistakes, and frustration. It is important to establish clear communication channels, provide detailed information, and ask questions when necessary to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Ignoring Functionality

While the aesthetics of the remodel are important, it is equally important to consider the functionality of the kitchen. Homeowners often prioritize design over functionality, which can result in impractical layouts and inconvenient storage solutions. It is essential to balance design and functionality to create a kitchen that is both beautiful and practical.

By avoiding these common mistakes and working with experienced professionals, homeowners can ensure a smooth and successful kitchen remodel, regardless of the chosen remodeling order.

Budget Considerations

One important factor to consider when deciding whether to start with the floors or cabinets is the impact on your budget. The remodeling order can affect cost estimates, potential adjustments in the overall budget, and the importance of setting a realistic budget from the beginning. Here are some key budget considerations to keep in mind:

  • Materials: The materials used for flooring and cabinets can have a significant impact on the overall cost of your kitchen remodel. Starting with the floors can be more expensive if you select high-end flooring materials that need to be installed first. On the other hand, starting with the cabinets can be more expensive if you opt for custom-built cabinets that require precise measurements and installations.
  • Installation: The installation process can also affect your budget. Installing flooring first may require more labor and materials to protect it during cabinet installation, which can add to the overall cost. Installing cabinets before flooring may require more time and care to ensure that the floors are protected during installation.
  • Timeline: The timeline for your kitchen remodel can also impact your budget. Starting with the floors can add extra time to your project, which can add to the cost. On the other hand, starting with the cabinets may result in a longer installation time, which can lead to additional expenses.

Ultimately, the key to staying on budget when remodeling your kitchen is to plan carefully and work with experienced professionals who can help you make informed decisions about your renovation.

Practical Tips for a Successful Remodel

Planning for a kitchen remodel can be overwhelming, but with the right preparation and approach, it can be a smooth and successful process. Here are some practical tips to consider:

  • Set a realistic budget: Before starting your remodel, determine your budget and stick to it. Identify your priorities and allocate funds accordingly. Remember to factor in unexpected expenses and leave some room for flexibility.
  • Choose the right contractors: Do your research and find licensed and experienced professionals to work with. Consider their reputation, portfolio, and communication skills. Get multiple bids and ask for references from previous clients.
  • Stay organized: Keep track of all the details of your remodel, including contracts, schedules, permits, and payments. Use a calendar or planner to stay on top of important deadlines and appointments.
  • Communicate effectively: Maintain open and regular communication with your contractors and designers. Clearly express your expectations, concerns, and feedback. Address any issues promptly and work with your team to find solutions.
  • Manage your timeline: Be realistic about the timeline for your remodel and plan accordingly. Expect some delays and setbacks, but also set clear milestones and deadlines. Keep your team accountable and adjust your schedule as needed.
  • Consider functionality and design: When making design choices, think about both the functionality and aesthetics of your kitchen. Opt for durable and practical materials, but also incorporate your personal style and preferences. Create a cohesive and balanced design that reflects your needs and taste.

By following these practical tips, you can ensure a successful and stress-free kitchen remodel. Remember to stay patient, flexible, and positive throughout the process.

Case Studies and Examples

To better understand the impact of the remodeling order on kitchen design, let’s take a look at some real-life examples:

The Flooring Before Cabinets Approach

In this example, the homeowners decided to start with the flooring before installing the cabinets. They chose a durable, low-maintenance flooring material that would withstand heavy foot traffic and spills. They opted for a dark hardwood finish that complemented the natural wood cabinets that were installed next.

Pros Cons
Design flexibility, as cabinets can be designed around the flooring Potential damage to new flooring during cabinet installation
Easy installation of flooring material without cabinets in the way Potential cost implications for custom cabinetry to fit around flooring

The Cabinets Before Flooring Approach

In this example, the homeowners decided to prioritize the cabinets before the flooring. They opted for custom cabinetry that included a built-in island, which required precise measurements and installation. After the cabinets were in place, they selected a neutral-colored, low-maintenance flooring material that would complement the cabinetry.

Pros Cons
Protection of cabinets during flooring installation Design limitations, as flooring must be selected to complement cabinets
Potential cost savings, as standard cabinetry can be used without the need for custom fitting around flooring Difficulty in later replacing flooring without removing cabinets

Hybrid Approach

Another approach is to use a hybrid approach, where certain areas of the kitchen use one order while other areas use the opposite. For instance, the island area could be installed with floors before cabinets while the rest of the kitchen uses cabinets before flooring. This allows for a customized solution that fits the unique needs and style preferences of the homeowners.

As these examples show, the remodeling order can significantly impact the final outcome of a kitchen renovation. By considering the pros and cons of each approach, homeowners can make the best decision for their specific needs and budget.

FAQ – Answering Common Questions

Remodeling a kitchen can be a daunting task, and it’s natural for homeowners to have questions. In this section, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about whether to start with floors or cabinets.

Can I change the remodeling order midway?

It’s generally not recommended to change the remodeling order midway through the process. Doing so can lead to additional expenses, delays, and even mistakes. However, if you’re working with a professional contractor, they may be able to suggest ways to make minor adjustments without compromising the overall design.

What if I want to install a kitchen island?

If you’re planning to install a kitchen island, it’s best to determine the placement before deciding on the remodeling order. If the island will be attached to the cabinets, it’s typically better to install the cabinets first. However, if the island has a separate base that will be tiled or covered in a different flooring material than the rest of the kitchen, it might make more sense to install the flooring first.

Should I consider the resale value of my home when making the decision?

While it’s always a good idea to think about the resale value of your home when making renovation decisions, this shouldn’t be the only factor that determines the remodeling order. Ultimately, it’s best to prioritize your own needs and preferences, and work with a professional who can help you balance your desires with market trends.

What if I’m on a tight budget?

If you’re on a tight budget, it’s still possible to achieve a successful remodeling project. One way to save money is to choose mid-grade materials that offer good quality at a reasonable price. Additionally, consider prioritizing essential elements of the kitchen, such as appliances and lighting, and make adjustments to less critical elements, such as decor and finishes, as needed.

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