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I am installing base cabinets in my basement. The flooring will be a floating laminate, so I can't set the cabinets directly on the flooring. There was a similar question How do I install cabinets on a floating hardwood floor?, but it didn't answer how so install the cabinets on the concrete.

From what I've seen so far, it seems like there should be some sort of shim/spacer system, but I haven't really seen in more detail what this would be. Would I use something like 5/4 PT boards and create a box and set the cabinets on this?

  • Are you concerned about moisture or just leveling them? – topshot Oct 7 '16 at 15:57
  • moisture primarily – 2 Left Thumbs Oct 7 '16 at 18:45
  • Composite shims should take care of both issues. – topshot Oct 7 '16 at 19:03
  • So basically stack 2 shims together (x4) to make makeshift legs to lift it off the slab? Do I need a vapor barrier under the cabinets at that point? Was planning on using this lowes.com/pd/… for underneath the laminate. – 2 Left Thumbs Oct 7 '16 at 19:37
  • Yes, on the shims. You'd need underlay for the laminate but I would not expect it to be a vapor barrier. I'll defer to other questions I've seen on whether to lay down plastic first. I've seen some suggest it, but I wonder if that would not promote mold growth. Unrelated, but are you sure your concrete is flat enough for laminate? – topshot Oct 7 '16 at 20:01
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Its depends on your cabinets ultimately. Do they have an attached or built in toekick?

If not, you can build a continuous toekick frame out of PT, or plywood (treated or marine grade ideally).

Another option is to use Euro-style adjustable feet under each cabinet. With these, you actually could install the cabinets on top of your floating floor. Just screw the cabinets to the wall, and the floor can expand and contract under the feet without any obstruction.

This is how I did my recent kitchen renovation in my last house, and never had any issues with the floating bamboo floor through all of the seasons.

  • How does the floor expand/contract w/ the euro style feet? (i.e. how is this different than just setting the cabinets on the floor - both would be applying downward pressure onto the floor which would prevent movement) – 2 Left Thumbs Oct 7 '16 at 18:48
  • Its just like having a piece of furniture sitting on the floor, or a book shelf. It can move underneath the feat because they are just sitting on top at a few points. It is when the flooring get up against a wall without any room to expand that it wants to buckle. Main things I would avoid are resting the raw ends of your cabinet sides on the concrete or floor where they can wick up moisture. – Jacob Edmond Oct 7 '16 at 19:02
  • It seems like the ideal solution then would be to stop the flooring shy of the cabinets and use the feet/composit shims to lift the cabinets off the slab. – 2 Left Thumbs Oct 7 '16 at 19:38
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I use uppers for island cabinetry all of the time (almost exclusively). I simply build the base out of 2x4s on their side. This will give you the industry standard 3.5" toekick.

I would not use pressure treated wood. As that wood can warp a little and a little warp will lead to a wobbly countertop. I would stick to high quality pine. I would also suggest that each cabinet gets its own custom base. Combining a group of cabinet is doable but can make shimming an exercise in futility.

And really building these bases is quite easy. Flip your cabinet over and take some rough measurements of width and depth. Take off an inch for each measurement as being exact isn't needed. Build your "box" with the 2x4s on their side. The only thing you need to do is make sure they are flush with the front of the cabinet. This will allow you to properly attach toekick material properly. For a toekick for something like this I usually going with a thick pine baseboard that is flat (for at least 3.5") and rip it to size.

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