When should floorboards be installed during a remodeling project?

Answered by Jeffrey Anderson ~ October 7, 2013 ~ No Comments

Should we put down floorboards before a kitchen remodel or vice versa?


Jeffrey Anderson

Suzanna, I'm guessing that by floorboards you mean hardwood flooring and not subfloor decking that may sometimes be installed during a total kitchen renovation. Prefinished hardwood flooring should be one of the last items installed during a kitchen remodel. My experience has always been that the fewer contractors who work or even walk on the flooring, the better my chances are at avoiding scratches or gouging in the wood. It can be very scary to walk into your kitchen and see a plumbing contractor with their metal tool box and tools spread all over your beautiful new hardwood floor.

My recommendation is to get all of the finish work done first and then schedule the hardwood contractor. By finish work, I mean the electrical, plumbing, and mechanical contractors should have all of the outlet covers on, light fixtures hung, faucets installed, and wall and ceiling register covers in place. Ideally, the only items left to do after hardwood should be to install the appliances and take care of some minor paint touch-ups.

Speaking of appliances, nothing scratches the surface of new hardwood faster than sliding or maneuvering a range, dishwasher, or refrigerator across the floor. Unfortunately, I have a lot of experience with this issue - I've walked into many a kitchen with new hardwood flooring that had two long scratches right over to where the range was installed. A heavy refrigerator can even dent some hardwood just by sitting on it without any protection.

Ranges and dishwashers can usually be carried to their permanent locations without marring the flooring, but unless you have helpers that spend a lot of time in the weight room at the gym, you're probably not going to be lifting most refrigerators very far. I normally make a path with very heavy cardboard or 1/8 inch plywood so the refrigerator can be safely rolled into place.

Also, before installing the hardwood, check what kind of clearance height is needed for your dishwasher. In most cases there isn't enough room for the appliance if the floorboards go under the counter. Additionally, some models may not fit when the hardwood is installed up to the front of the base cabinets. Your dishwasher installation manual should have the minimum clearance height listed.

The heights vary by model and manufacturer, so if you haven't purchased a dishwasher yet, keep that in mind. Right now you probably have about 34 inches from the subfloor to the underside of the countertop, but that will be reduced by about ¾ inch when the wood is installed. Verify your measurements and purchase a dishwasher accordingly.

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