In my basement apartment, I had concrete underlayment and I decided to not install tile under the cabinets even though some people advised me to do. It turned out well especially because I ended up installing 2x4 near on the other side of the front base of the cabinets to screw the front into for extra firmness, which would have been more difficult with tiles. Overall, it worked well, saved me tile and labor to have the cabinets sit directly on the concrete underlayment.

Now I'm doing my upstairs kitchen, which of course is not on a concrete underlayment but on a subfloor stack consisting of 3/4" OSB, 1/2" ply (for extra firmness), 1/4" cementboard, then tile. I intend to again repeat the no tile under cabinet methodology but my question is, since the underlayment is different, should I also skip the 1/4" cementboard under the cabinets? I can see pros and cons both ways. If I did, the countertops would be 1/4" higher, if not, I could save some cementboard.

  • Not to argue but the prior recommendation was a good one. When your concrete sweats, and it will, the end grains on the box walls will absorb the water. If it’s real plywood it may take years before it’s an issue, but eventually capillary effect will cause the wood to swell and eventually rot.
    – mreff555
    Jul 7, 2020 at 12:23
  • @mreff555 not all concrete sweats. I mean, it may "sweat" a little bit as it cures, but if there's no underlying moisture problems in the soil it should stop.
    – Huesmann
    Jul 7, 2020 at 14:21

1 Answer 1


When I did my kitchen recently, I just laid the cement board wall-to-wall, because it wasn't worth it to cut the sheets where the base cabinets would go. Plus you get a bit of waterproofing too.

Don't forget that you will want tile under the refrigerator, dishwasher, and free-standing range.

  • I think I just realized also that I might need to lay down some leveling compound also, and for that I will need Cement board. To confirm your advice
    – amphibient
    Jul 7, 2020 at 3:35

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