How to Replace a Kitchen Floor Without Removing the Cabinets

Kitchen floors take a beating. If your floors weren’t new when you moved in, you will likely need to replace them in the next few years. Perhaps the surfaces are worn and damaged. Maybe you just want to update your decor. But you’re thinking about replacing your kitchen floors. 

Removing the old material and installing the new floor is a major project. You might wonder if you can save time, money and headaches by working around the existing architectural elements and appliances. Here’s how to replace a kitchen floor without removing the cabinets.

Some Considerations

Before you decide to replace a kitchen floor without removing the cabinets, ask yourself the following questions.

How Long Will You Keep Your Cabinets?

Depending on the material, kitchen cabinets can last at least 20 years. If you plan to renovate between now and then, will you want to change the layout? You would want to install the flooring under the cabinets if so. That way, you don’t have to fill in gaps or redo it when you update your kitchen.

Are You Replacing Your Flooring and Cabinets at the Same Time?

If you’re doing a complete remodel or building from scratch, you probably wonder whether you should install the floors or the cabinets first. This largely depends on the flooring material. The main rule of thumb to keep in mind is that flooring that isn’t glued down should not be weighed down by cabinetry.

Most experts agree that hardwood and tile should be installed before the cabinets if at all possible. This produces a uniform surface throughout the kitchen and keeps the counters at the proper height. 

On one hand, hardwood and tile floors can withstand the weight of the cabinetry. But they can get damaged by the cabinets. If you expose covered areas in the future, you might have to replace or refinish them anyway to get rid of unsightly blemishes. 

Also, you’ll use—and pay for— more material when installing flooring beneath the cabinets. But you may save on the cost of labor. Laying out a floor in a rectangular room is faster than cutting out complex angles.

When you’re installing floating floors of any kind, you should avoid running them beneath the cabinets. The weight of the cabinetry will cause the floors to shift and buckle over time. Floating floors need room to expand and contract. Therefore, if you know that you’re going with floating floors, feel free to install your cabinets first. A benefit of doing this is that you won’t damage your brand-new floors.

Is Your New Flooring a Different Thickness?

Is your new flooring is significantly thicker or thinner than the old surface? If you replace the kitchen floor without removing the cabinets, the height of the countertops is going to feel different. 

This change is negligible to most people and becomes less noticeable over time. But you can prevent this from happening by removing the cabinets and running the flooring underneath everything. You can also adjust the underlayment, which is often necessary if you’re switching to a new flooring material.

What Kind of Toe Kick Will You Need?

The toe kick is the vertical piece of wood that butts up to the floor at the base of the cabinet. Sometimes, quarter-round molding is used in place of a toe kick. These boards provide a clean line and seal gaps at the edges of the floor. 

You can customize toe kicks to match laminate floors by cutting extra laminate planks to fit. Don’t be tempted to extend other flooring materials up the base of your cabinets, though. Vinyl or tile toe kicks would look strange. All other flooring materials should be paired with a toe kick made of plywood or a material that matches the cabinet.

Should You Install Kitchen Flooring Under Appliances?

Your refrigerator, oven and dishwasher hide much of your kitchen flooring. You can save money if you don’t extend the flooring beneath the appliances. Plus, you wouldn’t want your dishwasher or refrigerator to leak on the material. 

Many people choose to install a piece of plywood that’s the same thickness as the flooring under their appliances. Still, you should extend the flooring far enough under appliances so that you can’t see the plywood. Alternatively, you could install a toe-kick across the appliances. This creates a cohesive, finished look across the kitchen.

First Things First: Removing the Old Flooring

Before you think about installing new floors, you have to get rid of the existing material. Check whether it is installed beneath or around the cabinets. Laminate is usually installed around the cabinets. Vinyl and linoleum may be cut around the edges or run under the cabinets. Hardwood flooring often spans the width of the room, traveling beneath the cabinets as well.

If the cabinets cover the flooring but you don’t want to remove them completely, you have the option of cutting around them. You can use the following method to remove hardwood, laminate and engineered wood flooring. It works around any baseboard, such as in cases where a floor travels under a narrow wall.

  1. Remove the quarter-round molding or toe kick from the base of the cabinet.
  2. Cut through the depth of the wood at the edges of the cabinet using a toe-kick or flush-cut saw. Follow appropriate safety precautions when performing this step. Cutting through hardwood is a tedious and labor-intensive process.
  3. Use a circular saw to cut across the hardwood planks, perpendicular to the direction they’re installed. This makes each plank shorter and easier to remove.
  4. Use a tapered reciprocating saw or a hammer and chisel to finish scoring through the wood at corners.
  5. Pry the planks off of the floor with a pry bar.

Vinyl is much easier to cut than hardwood. You can remove it by following the steps above. However, instead of using a toe-kick saw, you can use a sharp blade to pierce the material.

Tile is a bit harder to cut. Use a diamond blade on the toe-kick saw to get through it cleanly. 

Installing the Floor Around the Cabinets

When installing a kitchen floor around the cabinets, the most important advice is to measure several times before cutting and laying out the planks or tiles. 

The following tips on how to replace a kitchen floor without removing the cabinets should help:

  • Remove baseboards, toe kicks and molding before you start.
  • Leave an adequate expansion gap to allow for movement in the floor.
  • Don’t cut all of your planks at once; measure and cut as you go.
  • Seal the edges, especially in moisture-prone areas, such as around the sink.

If installing a kitchen floor after the cabinets seems like a complex task, that’s because it is. If you’re not proficient in carpentry or home renovation work, you’ll probably get the best results by leaving the installation up to the experts. 

Flooring professionals understand how to measure and lay the floor so that it withstands the test of time. This is especially important in the kitchen, which is exposed to more moisture and traffic than most other rooms in the house. Your contractor can also help you make the final decision as to whether to install your floors or cabinets first.

How Much Extra Flooring to Buy

Deciding to move ahead with a new flooring project, whether it is one room, or the whole house, can be very exciting! Once you have chosen the material for your floors, you will need to properly measure each room to determine the floor space. This is a very important step and should be done methodically and with great precision.

Flooring is usually sold by the square foot, so in simplest terms, the square footage you will need is first determined by measuring the length of each room (in feet) times the width of the room (in feet).

It depends on what type of flooring is being installed, but generally speaking, you will need to plan on adding an additional 10% to 20% to your floor space calculations. This helps account for imperfection of the materials, wrong cuts, pattern matching, appropriate seam placement, and other factors unique to the room.

Tools You Will Need for Proper Measurements

To get started, you will need to gather your supplies: pen and paper, measuring tape, and calculator. If the floor is odd shaped, you may need to split the area into rectangles. If the sides are unequal, you will want to use the larger measurements from wall to wall, in both directions. Round up to the nearest foot.

Measure and subtract the space for permanent objects such as a kitchen island or vanity, unless you are using carpeting or vinyl. Allow for irregularities in the room by adding or subtracting space as applicable.

Pen and Paper

Measuring Tape

Calculator

Measure Your Floor at Least Twice

Do your own measurements at least twice, whether you are installing yourself, are hiring a contractor, or working with a retailer who will do the installation. By knowing your measurements ahead of time, you can get a ballpark estimate of how much you will need to budget for the materials and what the costs would be if you decide to pay for the installation.

Your retailer will be helpful in confirming the measurements and requirements for the flooring you choose. If you’re using a contractor, they will also want to confirm the measurements as most often their quote for the work is dependent on the square footage of the project.

Use a Diagram to Properly Depict the Space

It is highly recommended that you to draw your layout as a floor plan diagram. That way you can see the shape, write down the exact measurements, and have a clear picture of the floor layout. Be sure to measure every side of where the floor meets the wall. Having a visual will be very helpful for you and for all those involved, be it the retailer or installer. You’d be surprised at the details you can catch and errors you can avoid by having the plan right there in black and white, on paper, and from a bird’s eye view!

Explaining the Overage Factor

No matter what material you are working with, your retailer and if applicable, your contractor, will help you get the amount calculated correctly. Accuracy is key and if there are any questions or things that need to be rechecked, it is better to address them sooner rather than later. Each project is unique, and while we have given guidelines for overages, many other factors can come into play especially if creating angles and custom patterns.

Arguably, the biggest factor that can alter how much overage you should account for is the flooring material itself.

Carpeting

For carpeting, you will need to keep in mind the maximum width available for the carpet that has been chosen. Standard width is usually 12 feet. If the size of the room would result in a seam, you will want to plan out the arrangement so that the seam will not be right down the middle of the room. To be sure that the lines are seamless in the final product, add as much as 10% to the square footage needed when installing Berber, patterned, or sculptured carpets.

small pillow on carpet

Hardwoods and Laminates

These are both sold by the carton and generally in 20 square foot bundles. It’s recommended to add 10% for installations requiring less than 1,000 square feet of material, and 7% when more than 1,000 square feet is required.

This allowance can go as high as 15% for products installed on a diagonal or for lower grade products. The percentage of overage needed for hardwood varies depending on grade, variance in color, and grain. You can get away with a little less overage allowance on laminate flooring as these products don’t have as many inconsistencies.

hardwood flooring in living room

Vinyl

Vinyl is sold off of a roll and the width of a roll can vary from ½ foot to 13 feet 2 inches depending on the style. Add about 2 inches for doorways and as much as 10% to the total square footage needed to allow for pattern matching. Don’t discount vinyl as an affordable solution for certain areas and functionalities in the home.

vinyl flooring in store

Stone and Tile

When working with tile or stone, purchase 10% more than you expect to use, but keep in mind you may need 20% more based upon the experience level of the installer. It is not unusual to have broken or chipped pieces in the bundle you purchase and while these can be used for smaller areas where they can be cut to size, this allowance should be enough to cover these damaged pieces.

This is another instance when you will want to plan either a vertical or horizontal layout based upon how the room is shaped or entered.

tile flooring in kitchen

Do I Really Need to Measure Extra?

Installing flooring isn’t easy. It’s a skill, and an art. The resulting new floor is a worthy investment in the beautification of your home. Every flooring project will require cuts so that the materials can fit exactly within the space. Even professional installers make mistakes. There are a few reasons that you will want to be liberal in your measurements, here are a few:

1. Imperfection

Sometimes cuts may not fit perfectly and will have to be redone. Pieces do get damaged during the project and pieces may be unusable for various other reasons. Flooring materials made out of natural products will have some flaws that add character and interest, but some flaws will make a piece not suitable to include. Have enough materials so that you don’t have to skimp. You will be much happier when every piece fits perfectly and the finished area looks professional.

2. Closets

Most likely you will want to do the closets in the same flooring material as in the room they adjoin, especially in the bedrooms, so don’t forget to include that measurement. Always add 2” for the doorways so the carpet meets the flooring in the next room. Simple things like finished closets and doorways make a big difference in creating a professional look!

3. Damage or Repair

There is a good chance you will need some more material down the road, too, if you decide to expand your space or have damages you need to repair. A flood, overflow, leaky sink, or broken appliance that ruins a portion of the floor doesn’t have to become a disaster if you have the extra flooring to replace the damaged area.

4. Matching

It’s quite possible that the lot and dye of your installed floor will be unavailable at a later date or the manufacturer could discontinue the style altogether and by then it will be difficult to match, if you need to do repairs. If your flooring is custom, acquiring even a small amount in the future may be very expensive or not even possible.

5. Selling Your Home

The extra box of wood, laminate, tile, or stone flooring can also be used for sprucing up worn areas and a comfort to a buyer if you decide to sell your home, so don’t be short-sighted about the value of your flooring investment.


No matter how big or small your project, or whatever materials you chose, taking the time to properly measure, plan, and allow for overage will help ensure that your new flooring endeavor will be a lot of fun and very rewarding. Best of luck and enjoy!

How to Clean an Area Rug on Hardwood Floor

Coupling hardwood flooring with an area rug can be both aesthetically pleasing and convenient. After all, wood floors, once installed, are relatively low-maintenance, and area rugs provide you with that extra pop of style to compliment the room. However, the fact of the matter is accidents are occasionally going to happen, and it’s not always going to be practical for you to take a large area rug outside, or to a dry cleaner. 

This means that you’re left with the necessity of taking care of it in situ. But knowing how to clean an area rug on hardwood floor is not always immediately obvious. You don’t want to use the wrong product for the job, risking ruining an expensive piece of carpeting. Not to mention the potential for wood flooring underneath to take collateral damage. 

The good news is, with a little care and preparation, you can take care of most area rug mishaps simply. We’ll guide you through a few areas of focus, along with some tips to help you get the best possible result. 

Preparations

When spillages occur, it can be easy to fall victim to panic, which can in turn lead to further mistakes being made. One of the most important steps in how to clean an area rug on a hardwood floor is taking a moment to step back, assess the situation, and make appropriate preparations. 

 

  • Mitigation — In the event of a liquid spillage, this involves gently soaking up any excess fluid. Use a paper towel or rag to carefully blot the area. If the spill is something more substantial such as food, or the fluid has dried, scrape at the area using a windshield scraper or bread knife, pulling up and disposing of excess dirt. Don’t scrub or rub the spillage at this stage, as this can exacerbate the issue. 
  • Remove Debris — Whether it’s an unexpected spillage, or long-term grime, you don’t want to make the situation more difficult by mixing loose dirt up in your cleaning solution. Take a vacuum, and run it along the full upper surface of the area rug. You can use a broom or lightly beat the rug to ensure that no clouds of dirt or dust are rising before proceeding.
  • Protect the Hardwood — A significant spillage can result in fluids leaking through to the hardwood underneath. Lift the rug, mop up any excess liquid, and lay a ground sheet. This also helps to protect your hardwood floor from any damage that could be caused by stain removers or cleaning products you’ll be using. 
  • Spot Testing — There are various methods for stain and grime removal, which we’ll go into shortly. However, if you haven’t used a cleaner or solution on your rug before, it’s important to perform a spot test. Apply a small amount of the solution to a corner of the rug, along with a little water, and leave it for a few hours. This will reveal whether it is likely to affect the color of the rug.  

Carpet Shampoo   

Particularly if your rug is made from synthetic materials, an off-the-shelf carpet shampoo can be an effective option. As you’ll be applying this while it’s still on the hardwood floor, be mindful of how much warm water you’re applying to the area.

  • Use a moist brush to gently work the shampoo into the stained area. 
  • Work from the outside of the stain and move toward its center, to mitigate the potential for the stain to spread. 
  • Prepare a 1:1 solution of water and white vinegar, and lightly brush it into the cleaned area to help remove excess detergent. 
  • Dry the area by first using rags to soak up excess moisture. Then use a fluffy towel, making sure to carefully push any plush rug fibers back into an upright position.

Baking Soda and Hot Water

When considering how to clean an area rug on hardwood floor, one of the simple and versatile options is a sodium bicarbonate paste. It’s effective on a wide variety of stains and spillages, including wine, juice, coffee, grime, and even sticky substances. 

  • Sprinkle the dry baking soda over the affected area. If you’re cleaning the entire rug, be sure to spread this evenly throughout, in order to keep the effect consistent. If you are applying it to a fresh spillage, you should be able to see the chemical reaction fizzing. 
  • Using a damp brush or cloth, gently work the baking soda into the fibres of the fabric. You’re not looking to use enough water to dilute the sodium bicarbonate, just enough that it turns the powder into a thick, pale paste. 
  • Leave it to dry for a couple of hours. 
  • Vacuum the rug when dry to remove the remains of the baking soda and stain. 

Steam Cleaning

A rug can be a great addition to your home, but it’s essential that you keep it looking fresh. While there are creative and cost effective options for how to clean an area rug on hardwood floor, sometimes it’s worth the time and investment to rent a steam cleaner. 

While this can inject life back into your rug, and take care of most persistent stains, it’s important to be wary of how this could affect your hardwood flooring. By their nature, steam cleaners emit a significant amount of water vapor, and as such you must make sure that your floors are adequately water sealed, you keep windows open where possible to aid natural drying, and that you place a sufficient barrier layer between your rug and the floor.  

Conclusion — Keep it Fresh

The reality of life is that you’re unlikely to be able to keep your soft furnishings in pristine condition. However, by taking the time to understand how to clean an area rug on hardwood floor, you have a toolkit that can help you keep it fresh for years to come. 

Remember to: 

  • Prepare for cleaning by both vacuuming the rug and protecting the flooring beneath
  • Use a baking soda and warm water paste to remove stubborn stains
  • If using carpet shampoo, brush the stain from the outside to the inside to prevent spreading
  • Invest in occasional all-over steam cleaning to keep your rug in peak condition for longer