How to Replace a Kitchen Floor Without Removing Cabinets

Does your kitchen have gorgeous cabinets but a lackluster floor? Removing the furniture only to put it back in when you’re done with the floor remodeling could be less than ideal. Thus, it comes naturally to wonder if you could replace the kitchen floor without removing cabinets. There is good news: you can.

To replace the kitchen floor without removing the cabinets, you have to cut the old floor around the cabinets’ perimeter with a flush-cut toe-kick saw. Then, remove the floor in the rest of your kitchen and install the new floors.

Can You Replace Kitchen Flooring Without Removing Cabinets?

Yes, you can replace kitchen flooring without removing cabinets. That doesn’t mean it is wise to do so. 

Potential Problems 

The main issue that can arise is ending up with a visible thickness difference between old and new. If the new floor is thicker than the older one, you can install it flush with the cabinets’ base and call it a day. However, the aspect will be awkward, to say the least, if you’ll be able to catch glimpses of the old floor where the new one ends.

Another potential problem regards the new floor’s weight. For instance, if you’re replacing hardwood with stone or concrete tile, the subfloor might not be strong enough to support the new load. 

In this case, you’ll have to call in a contractor to assess your subfloor. If it turns out that it isn’t strong enough for the flooring you want to install, you’ll have to remove the cabinets and install new subflooring before moving on with your project.

Lastly, you should consider the moisture problem. If the floors you want to replace or the ones you want to install are made of hardwood or engineered wood, you will have to seal the material at the junction, or spills and splashes could infiltrate and damage the wood. 

If you have plywood subfloors, keep in mind that water might leak under the floors from the junction, so you should seal with silicone or another waterproof material.

When Is It a Good Idea?

Still, decided to replace your kitchen floors without removing the cabinets? Good, here are a few situations when doing so is an excellent idea.

  • When you want to refresh the look of your kitchen with the same flooring type. Make sure that the new flooring has the same thickness as the old one.
  • When you want to install laminate or vinyl flooring over linoleum. You could tuck the new flooring slightly under the cabinets for a streamlined look.
  • To replace water-damaged flooring under the sink cabinet without changing the flooring in the entire kitchen. 

Replacing Kitchen Floor Without Removing Cabinets: The Correct Way

Things You Will Need

  • Toe-kick saw (alternatively, a rotary or oscillating saw)
  • Tile-cutting blade (optional, if you want to replace or install new tiles)
  • Chisel (optional)
  • Hammer (optional)
  • Pry bar 
  • Mallet (optional)
  • New flooring
  • Goggles 
  • Dust mask 
  • Earplugs or muffs

Step 1 – Remove kitchen appliances 

Since you’re replacing the kitchen floors without removing the cabinets, you might also be tempted to leave large appliances where they are. After all, the flooring under them never sees the light of day anyway, isn’t it?

However, for the best results, you should expose as much of the kitchen floor as possible, mostly because appliances can break, and the new ones might not cover the exact same surface. 

Cutting the old flooring and installing a new one around a large fridge, for example, could also raise issues, especially if the new flooring is slightly thicker than the old one. Imagine having to drag the fridge out of its place only to notice that flooring dents are blocking it.

Step 2 – Remove the old flooring

You may skip this step as long as the surface is level and you want to install floating flooring, such as laminate or vinyl.

However, for the best results, you should consider removing as much of the old floor as possible, exposing the subfloor.

If you want to install tile or stone flooring, you’ll have to remove the old flooring anyway. To do this, use the saw to cut the old flooring flush against the cabinets’ base, then strip it off.

You can remove tile floors easily using a chisel, hammer, and pry bar. The pry bar is also essential in removing hardwood or laminate. Vinyl flooring is easy to remove with a mallet and pry bar, while linoleum is easy to cut with a heavy-duty utility knife.

Step 3 – Repair and level the subfloor (if necessary)

Once you’ve removed the old floor, inspect the subfloor and repair any cracks or holes. If your subfloor is plywood, reseal it with a coat of waterproof sealant. If you’re installing tile, you must also make sure that the subfloor is perfectly level before moving on. Vacuum all dust and debris when you’re done.

Step 4 – Install the new floor

If you’re installing tile flooring, start from the cabinets and install the new flooring toward your kitchen’s empty walls. Work in small sections at a time and leave the adhesive to dry for at least 24 hours before applying grout.

If you’re installing hardwood, laminate, or vinyl, you can start in any corner of the kitchen. These floors are easy to tuck under the cabinets for a finished aspect. Follow the installation instructions for your chosen flooring type to achieve the best results.

If any of the floors or the subfloor are made of wood, seal the juncture with silicone, adhesive, or another suitable sealant to prevent water damage.

Step 5 – Put back the appliances and enjoy 

When placing the appliances back in their spots, pay particular attention to preventing damaging the new floors. This is especially important for wooden floors, whether they’re hardwood or engineered wood. That’s it. You can now enjoy your brand new kitchen floors.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace Kitchen Floor?

How much it will cost you to replace kitchen floors depends on the type of flooring you want to install. You can expect to pay anywhere between $3 and $18 per square foot, sometimes even more.

Contractors charge about $1 per square foot to remove the old flooring and between $3 and $22 per square foot to install the new floors. Then, you’ll have to account for any extras, such as leveling or repairing the subflooring.

Depending on the size of your kitchen, calculate a budget between $1,500 and $4,500 to replace your kitchen floors. If you have the skills and want to keep costs low, you can do everything yourself and only pay for the material.


Replacing the kitchen floors without removing the cabinets is possible, but you’ll have to put in a large amount of elbow grease. Before starting your project, consider any possible reasons why replacing the entire floor might be a wiser choice.

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