I currently have tile on the floor of the kitchen that just butts up to my cabinets. I plan to change the floors and also change the cabinets. Is is best to rip out all the cabinets and tile, and then tile the entire floor? Afterwards, install the cabinets on top of the tile. Or should retile just butting up to cabinets again?

7 Answers 7


Why would you want to tile first, then lay cabinets on top of the tile? This ensures two things:

  • The person in the future who wants merely to replace the tile while not touching the cabinets will be cursing your soul to eternity. Remember, this might be you cursing yourself, if for some reason it turns out you need (or merely really want) to replace the tile.

  • That you will spend more money on tile than you need to spend. Tile is expensive, so why throw money away underneath a large block of cabinets?

Place the cabinets first, then butt the tile against them. Yes, you will be cutting some tiles to fit. Tile cutters are not difficult to use.

  • 3
    The method woodchips recommended is definitely the most common for the reasons he states, but both ways are used, more for hardwood rather than tile. Do set any new or additional underlayment, such as concrete board under the cabinets before install. Commented Jan 22, 2011 at 12:28
  • 1
    Yes, hardwood floors are sometimes done this way, but even there hardwood is expensive. Why waste the materials under a cabinet?
    – user558
    Commented Jan 22, 2011 at 17:02
  • 1
    +1 When we do our kitchen it will definitely be cabinets before tiling, for those very reasons. One additional reason, depending somewhat on how the floor is constructed, If there is any movement at a later stage that causes gaps to appear (perhaps just tiny cracks in the grout) you may well have problems with water getting through in areas you can't even see, let alone get to for repair. Remember, a kitchen is a wet area and must be treated accordingly. Commented Jan 26, 2011 at 23:31
  • I'm intrigued. Why the down vote here?
    – user558
    Commented Jan 27, 2011 at 14:08
  • Woodchips definitely got this one right. It's irrelevant whether a good tile installation should last year's. You never know what a future occupant of the home will want. Or maybe you will change your mind in the near future. It happens. +1 woodchips Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 7:27

We tiled under the cabinets when we remodeled our kitchen. To tile up to the cabinets IMO is to stop short of finishing the floor.

A good tile, installed properly, will last a long time; probably longer than the cabinets.

The price difference for us between doing under the cabinets and not was negligible; couple hundred dollars.

Looking at our kitchen, we would not have known the floor was sagging 1.5 inches from corner to corner. Tiling under the cabinets allowed us to fix the floor and have a level floor across the room (20+ feet in total)


It likely depends on what type of cabinets you're planning on installing. If you're going for the 'european style' (what Ikea refers to as a 'free-standing kitchen', you need to fully tile first, as it'll be visible once the cabinets are installed.

And exactly the opposite of what woodchips said; if someone in the future wants to replace the cabinets while not touching the floor will appreciate the fully tiled floor.

I'm not sure which is worse, if you tend to be a spill-prone household -- with a fully tiled floor, the water's more likey to damage the kickplate of the cabinets (or legs, in a free-standing style), rather than the subfloor if things aren't sealed well.

One other minor consideration is that your cabinet height changes slightly between the two styles of laying tiles, but you can always put something down to make up the tile height if you don't want the full floor of tile.

  • I just put in an IKEA kitchen, and I did not tile under my cabs. It's not required. The tile ends beyond the toe kicks. I did however put the concrete backer board down wall-to-wall.
    – DaveM
    Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 20:04
  • @DaveM : IKEA sells more than one style of cabinet. I'm talking about the ones that are basically furniture that you can move around. As the link in my answer is now dead, look at the 'STENSTORP' kitchen island. You'd have stuff like that, possibly with curtains or doors in front, but they'd not be locked together like US cabinets.
    – Joe
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 13:34
  • In the US, the current basic IKEA system for kitchens (as the OP requested) is the SEKTION system, which is basically an imperial measure version of METOD. Yes you can put it up on stainless legs if you want, but that's more of an exception than the rule. The basic system is designed to hang from wall rails. Islands have more complicated issues. My island is sitting on the tile, but my wall cabs are not. inspiredkitchendesign.com/ikea-kitchens-europe-australia
    – DaveM
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 2:55
  • @DaveM : I don't know what your obsession is ... but there used to be both styles available. No where in the original question is there mention of what type of cabinets were to be installed (w/ feet or with a base kick). I personally don't feel like trying to dig up a 2011 catalog to see if they were still selling the more furniture style at the time ... but 'SEKTION' was released in 2015.
    – Joe
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 15:10
  • I'm sorry, There were other recent contributions to this question that brought your answer to my attention. I hadn't noticed the time lag of your response. For the record, the previous IKEA kitchen design was AKURUM, which I'm not sure had wall rails for base cabs. So your original comment might have been more relevant. But there is still a lot of latitude in how you implement IKEA cabinetry. But my recommendation is in between, Cover the floor with waterproof backer layer, Then only tile where visible or necessary due to placement issues (eg. islands, dishwashers, refrigerators)
    – DaveM
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 17:42

Don't overthink it and worry too much about what you or someone else might want to do in the future. Will you want a new floor? Will you want a new cabinet configuration? You simply don't know. Just worry about what you want right now. Find cabinets you love and find a floor you love.

The one pro I can think of for tiling only up to the cabinets is that it will be cheaper. How much depends how expensive your tile is. Unless you have a huge kitchen and a ton of cabinets, I'm guessing it won't be much savings.

There are more pros to tiling the entire floor. Tiling the entire floor may actually take less time too. You won't have to worry about super-precise cuts against the walls underneath cabinets, but if you only tile up to the cabinets you have to be very precise, otherwise you will have uneven grout lines along your kickboards. You will also have to make more cuts around your cabinets. Your entire floor is protected from water and spills tiling the entire floor. If you do decide to change cabinet configuration in the future, you don't have to worry about the floor. If you want to change the floor, but not the cabinets, that would be the time to remove the old tile up to the cabinets and lay the new tile up to the cabinets. And if you want to change both, well, it all has to get ripped up anyway, right?

I'm tiling my kitchen floor this weekend and it's going wall to wall!


In the professional world kitchen cabinets go in first then finish flooring, we do not have trouble cutting flooring. Fact , Homeowners change floor coverings when they get tired of the outdated flooring, or just want something new.... Kitchen cabinetry lasts 3 or 4 floor changes. bathrooms go either way so it is up to you.


IF you saved ENOUGH spare tile you can do it later....and if not, you will have a different dye lot at the very least, if it is even still available to purchase. make sure you get a couple boxes extra or ask the tile salesperson to help you figure out how much tile you will need if you want to tile underneath later on! often the same size and style are unavailable years later, but it'll be a hard match even so. preparation, preparation, preparation:)


If you lay the tiles up to the cabinets and in future want to replace the cabinets, all you have to do is cut along the grout lines of the partial tiles and smash them out. If you have saved spare tiles, finish laying the floor up to the wall, and then install your new cabinets.

  • I agree that this is a solution, but I think in this case, seeing as op has stated that both the floor and cabinets are to be replaced, that it is best to do it all at once. Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 14:18

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.