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I have heard about installing cabinets directly on top of a hardwood floor.

How do you secure the cabinets? How do you secure an island? Do you screw directly into the hardwood?

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Yes, there are many good reasons to finish laying the hardwood floor, and then screw cabinets into the floor and subfloor. There are also some reasons not to do so.

This is an area of ongoing disagreement about the topic:

My neighbor was a professional cabinet installer for decades and specialized in high end luxury houses. His way of telling if the general contractor was a cheap b*stard or a quality contractor was by whether the hardwood was laid wall-to-wall in the kitchen or stopped for the cabinets.

My neighbor is a proponent of laying the hardwood wall-to-wall and placing the cabinets on top of it, screwing where necessary through the hardwood into the subfloor.

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You never screw cabinets to hardwood flooring - never. They sit on floor and they are anchored to the wall. If it is an island you have two options. Cut out floor there (and screw them in) or you float the island and let the weight of the cabinets hopefully keep it from moving too much.

Also fixed islands require electric (per most US based municipalities) while floating doesn't have any requirement.

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  • Can you...yes, should you? See above. – James Aug 12 '14 at 18:02
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While I do not disagree in principle with the advice not to attach cabinets to a hardwood floor, there are circumstances when it might make sense.

Attaching to a floating floor creates problems. It severely restricts the ability of that floor to expand and shift. It could lead to buckling.

However, nailed down hardwood flooring does not shift significantly. If you were installing cabinets that might need to be moved or replaced, installing over a nailed down hardwood might be a good idea.

Also there are times when it would be advisable to screw down an island. I installed an island made from a 24x60 stand alone cabinet that stood on 4" legs. The top is covered with 1" granite that overhangs 10" on one side, glued down. The cabinet is hardwood, but not very heavy, and does not contain heavy items.

To ensure that it could not be jostled or tipped, I installed small L brackets. The horizontal leg is screwed into the nailed down narrow board old pine flooring, and into the subflooring. The vertical leg of the bracket is screwed into the inside edge of the cabinet leg. No problems four years later.

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