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I purchased a new construction home through a commercial builder. I will be closing on the house in a few weeks and opted to do the hardwood floor myself to save some money.

I did upgrade the cabinets and I am happy with the current counter tops. I would prefer to have the floor go under the cabinets but the cabinets have to be in along with an linoleum floor to close on the house.

I don't want a sloppy job on a brand new home with trim all around the baseboard of the cabinets. I was considering pulling out the cabinets to do the job right, or putting the floor up to the toe kick with a proper gap but putting another toe kick in front to cover the gap cleanly.

I am willing to spend the extra time for the best appearance but without destroying the cabinets or countertops I have. If I were to take out the cabinets what issues could I run into? I know the countertop which is a laminated countertop is glued to the wall, will this be hard to separate and reuse without destroying it? Will the upper cabinets need to be raised the difference of the height of the floor thickness when the cabinets are put on top of the floor?

If I were to lead the floor up to the baseboard what are my options to make it look the best? There is a register vent in the toe kick that is flush with the current floor, what is the best way to relocate this higher? Can I just move it up a little or do I need to add some duct work to prevent cool/warm air from blowing on the exposed hardwood floor near the bottom of the register?

Also, can I lay the hardwood floor directly over the linoleum? I would hate to have to remove all that. Would anything else need to go between the hardwood and linoleum if so?

This is my first time doing something like this, so all information is helpful. Thanks!

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Your Builder's a knot-hole, he should've figured in the wood floor for you. Don't mess the cabinets nor countertop, it shouldn't be glued to anything, knot-holes. This means no need to do anything with the uppers. But, do put the flooring under removable things, if there's room for it. Like, Refrigerator, Range, & even Dishwasher, easier future servicing. The vent can just slide up with a top cut, glue the cut-out piece to the vent hole's old bottom.

Now then, you might luck out with the toe-kick that's already there, for the new floor & the vent. If the toe-kick is solid & has no seams below each cabinet. Then, it was applied after the cabinets & can be pried off or even un-clipped, trimmed & reinstalled on top of the new floor, trim the top edge. You can also do this with many per cabinet toe-kicks too, if they're topically applied & not Ikea-like cam-lock nor bracket applied. Some Trim Saws could possibly cut the toe-kick that tight to the floor too.

  • Thanks for the comment. Really helpful. The builder makes it harder so you give in and pay then to do it for more profit. – eaglei22 Mar 31 '16 at 1:06
  • Thanks for the comment. Really helpful. The builder makes it harder so you give in and pay them to do it for more profit. Also, I have an island in the middle. Any recommendations for this? Should I put the island on top of the floor? It does have an electrical outlet going to it, but then the island would be offset height wise from the other cabinets. Not sure if that would look odd or not. Also can the long edge boards fit right up to the cabinets or does it need a 1/4 inch gap like the width side does. These boards will be coming from the transition to the carpet. – eaglei22 Mar 31 '16 at 1:13
  • I agree the island might be noticed, so handle that the same way. Yeah, unfortunately the board length ends need a gap too, laminates are a plywood, HDF or MDF so they expand in both directions. However, you're right. Being an open area & you can have room under the transition strip, then you definitely can go tight to the island on that side. Also, just go with a 2nd toe-kick that's the same as the gap. It just needs to be hidden, it doesn't to be buried a skin will look the same as a plank. – Iggy Mar 31 '16 at 1:34
  • Okay thanks iggy. These will be solid oak planks nailed down. So the transition will just be perpendicular planks. I do like the idea you gave of cutting the original kickboard. These are upgraded cabinets i want to make sure it all matches properly. Maybe I can order more or thinner toe kicks from the manufacturer. – eaglei22 Mar 31 '16 at 12:54
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    No problem, don't rush & aim for perfection. One final piece of consideration. If you want a floor that will never squeak then pre-drilling & using Finish Screws will give you a vastly superior job. It's a good deal more labor intensive, but you'll never have any of the "normal" wood floor issues. – Iggy Mar 31 '16 at 13:20
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Taking the cabinets out is quite likely to damage them and add costs and rework.

What's conventionally done here in the UK is to install the cabinets, then the flooring, then the (cosmetic) plinth (presumably your "toe kick").

Wood on top of linoleum sounds like a bad idea, though there may be a way to get away with it. If you take off the plinth/toe kick you may find the edge, if not you may need to cut back behind this.

  • Thanks Chris. Why would laying the hardwood floor on top of linoleum be bad? – eaglei22 Mar 31 '16 at 1:20
  • Linoleum can compress, and would also allow the boards to move too easily. I would expect it to creak and possibly wear faster. I could be wrong, but I suggest caution on this particular point until you have good evidence that it would be ok. – Chris H Mar 31 '16 at 5:52
  • Hmm okay, I would like to add I will be using solid oak and nailing the boards in. Not sure if that will make a difference. – eaglei22 Mar 31 '16 at 12:38
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I would prefer to have the floor go under the cabinets but the cabinets have to be in along with an linoleum floor to close on the house... Also, can I lay the hardwood floor directly over the linoleum? By close on the house, I am assuming that you mean satisfy a purchasing contract. You can lay hardwood directly on top of linoleum. But if you're thinking about laying linoleum down on say half of the floor, then try not to use hardwood (or other flooring) to cover the edge (to create like a 3/4" step). You would want the edges of the two floorings to meet and use a trasition strip between the two floor edges. I'm not really sure what you are getting at, but to be sure, hardwood floors aren't ideal for kitchens. Ideally you would want the top of the linoleum to be flush with the hardwood, which probably will mean adding underlayment (like birch plywood) before linoeum.

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I don't want... trim all around the baseboard of the cabinets. I was considering pulling out the cabinets... or putting the floor up to the toe kick with a proper gap but putting another toe kick in front to cover the gap cleanly. If I understand this correctly, you are just installing a linoleum floor in the kitchen to satisfy a closing contract. There is obviously more work involved with running the floor under the cabinet, but I really think it would be the right thing to do and obviously look a lot better- especially on the sides of the cabinets (unless you have appliances that will be covering the sides of the cabinets). But if you decide to run the floor up to the edge of the cabinet, then the tighter the fit the better. And yes a piece of toe-kick-trim will cover the edge.

I know the... laminated countertop is glued to the wall, will this be hard to separate and reuse without destroying it? You probably have drywall behind your countertop, which is soft and can be damaged if you don't cut/remove the glue cleanly. The countertop is much more durable than drywall, but you should always be careful; nothing is indestructable.

Will the upper cabinets need to be raised the difference of the height of the floor thickness when the cabinets are put on top of the floor? No.

There is a register vent in the toe kick that is flush with the current floor, what is the best way to relocate this higher? Regarding the vent (I am not sure if I understand this question correctly), you should be able to pull the vent (grille) out (you may need a screw driver) and then you could see what needs to be done. I imagine that you may need a flat bar to pull some nails to adjust a duct. I suppose you could use a sawzall to cut the hole a little larger if necessary (and move duct work up- if necessary). Obviously you will need an accurately sized hole in the new toe-kick-trim; you would want to put the vent grille over the new toe-kick-trim. I'm pretty sure that you will not need to run any additional duct work for this. As an alternative, it might be possible to order a more narrow vent grille or (if you don't need any additional underlayment) shave 1/8" off of the edge of the bottom edge vent grille (maybe with a band saw).

  • Thanks for your comments the full floor will be pre-laid with linoleum floor. So I was going to put the hardwood on top of that. – eaglei22 Mar 31 '16 at 1:18
  • Then yes, again, hardwood over linoleum is a-ok; but hardwood in the kitchen has drawbacks. I suppose it doesn't make much difference, but it would be satisfying to see a bird's eye layout of where the wood and linoleum will be. – Ben Welborn Mar 31 '16 at 12:29
  • The linoleum covers the entire kitchen floor and has the cabinets and island sitting on top of it. The linoleum extends to the foyer at the front entrance, half bathroom, and entry to the garage. I plan to put the hardwood over all of those areas covering all of the linoleum and run planks perpendicular to where it would touch carpet. – eaglei22 Mar 31 '16 at 12:59
  • I see. So you need to raise the vent about 3/4 of an inch, or find a more narrow vent. I would recommend ipe (wood) in the kitchen. – Ben Welborn Mar 31 '16 at 13:12

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