Skip to Content

Do Kitchen Cabinets Go In Before Tile Flooring?

do kitchen cabinets go in before tile flooring

Whether you want the kitchen cabinets to go in before the tile flooring or the tile flooring to go in before the kitchen cabinet is totally up to you because there are no set standards that dictate which of the above should go first.

Keep in mind however that whichever method you decide to use there are both advantages and disadvantages.

Tile flooring the kitchen is one of the best decisions that one can ever make because when installed, tiles tend to be resistant to the heavy traffic and activity experienced in this part of the house.

And the best part is that they complement different styles décor, rarely absorb odors, nor do they absorb bacteria, both of which are mostly found in the kitchen.

Kitchen tiles are also stain-resistant and don’t get damaged easily by pets or kids

Tile installation before the cabinets

Installing tiles before the cabinets makes the cabinet installing job a breeze because the process of sealant application for the perimeter joints is obliterated.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links which will take you to online retailers that sell products and services. If you click on one and buy something, I may earn from qualifying purchases. See my Affiliate Disclosure for more details.

Besides, when you install tiles before the cabinets, you won’t have issues with the flooring height.

Whenever you want to do a tile job in your kitchen it is important to be mindful of the standard heights.

Remember that if you install the cabinets directly to the subfloor and then you tile the remaining area and around the cabinets, you will fail to achieve the recommended height of the cabinets.

However, if you are re-doing your kitchen floor, and don’t want to interfere with the cabinets because they are in good condition then you can simply tile the floor up to the cabinets. 

And besides tiles wouldn’t be much of a problem when compared to other flooring materials like hardwood that are bound to influence the height of the cabinet.

So if you decide to install the tiles before you do the cabinets then adhere to the standard countertop work surface of 36 inches?

Important to note is that when you install the tiles under the cabinets then you are simply wasting the flooring materials and anytime that you will want to replace the flooring then you are going to incur extra expenses of first removing the cabinets then the flooring, which could be quite costly.

Cabinet installation before tile flooring

do kitchen cabinets go in before tile flooring laying tiles order

The advantage of going with the cabinets first is that you will save on the tiles that would have otherwise be installed under a cabinet that no one would see or come into contact with.

Even more important is that the moment you install the cabinets first then you don’t have to worry about spoiling the tiles that will be installed later.

But if you decide to install the floor first then proceed to cabinet installation, your tiles will break or get defaced.

Also, remember that now that you have decided to install the tiles after first putting the cabinet in place, you have the task of ensuring that the perimeter joints are placed where the tiles meet with the cabinets.

And to achieve the perfect finish you will have to apply finish trim to cover both the clean and open perimeter joints.

Also, installing the cabinets before the tiles restrict you to a footprint design that you will have to stick to every time you carry out renovations.

And if you have any installed appliances they will also be trapped in the same place and design, restricting changes when changing décor.

What’s worse is when you have built-ins because then it becomes even harder to make any switches.

Tile break strength

We all understand the problem of using wood as a flooring material and then installing it before the cabinets depriving it of breathing space.

Wood is known to expand and if there isn’t enough allowance then you will definitely have to redo because of the damage caused.

Tile on the other hand, when installed before the cabinets, will most likely suffer from cracks, breaks or scratches.

The above then brings us to the question of the tile’s breaks strength?

To calculate the break strength of a tile you will have to multiply the ratio by the breaking load.

Tile cracks occur because of varied reasons for example; some people install the floor tiles without a sleep sheet which is meant to give room for expansion.

If such a thing happens and the concrete slab cracks then the tiles will also crack.

Another cause is if you don’t apply the thin-set adhesive properly you risk cracking the tiles.

Be informed, however, that not every crack on the tile is a result of improper application but others might be because of a faulty foundation.

And the best way to determine the above is by ensuring that cracks are not visible in all the rooms.

If you see too many cracks in different rooms and not necessarily the kitchen, then you have a foundation problem.

Tile weight

So apparently decorating your kitchen with tiles has more to it than just making sure that the tiles are correctly placed and portray a neat finish.

Many people are not aware that they are supposed to ensure that the types of tile that they adopt for use on their floors should match the wall’s ability to handle the weight.

A well-plastered background can only take 20kg/m2 of tile weight.

The above also applies to ceramic tiles with an 8mm thickness and that is inclusive of adhesives; the same applies if you are using natural stones with a thickness of 7mm inclusive of adhesives.

Important to note is that the weight of a tiling in direct correlation to a plasterboard background should not surpass 32kg/m2.


Whichever order you choose to install your tiles, you are bound to encounter both pros and cons but from the above information installing the floors before the cabinets carries more risks.

So, before you install the tiles check on the appliances that you are going to be working with and put into consideration future renovation plans.

And since we have established that floor tiling is not just about neatly laying the tiles on the floor with adhesive, but rather a careful consideration of whether the walls can take the weight of the tile.

The above should be a priority when selecting the type of tiles to use. Also, check on the mode of installation to prevent cracks.