kitchen and bathroom flooring

Lately, we’ve been working on lots of kitchens and bathrooms for our clients and one question keeps coming up. “Where should we terminate the floor?”

This is a common question for any remodeling project, even if you’re approaching your renovation DIY style. Deciding where to terminate the flooring or where to change from one type to another can be a stressful task when there are many interconnecting spaces. Read on to learn about common practice today and how we got here. 

Understanding the positives and negatives of finishing flooring at the wall or front of cabinets is really important to help you make your own decision for your home improvement project.

Flooring in Kitchens

Back in the day flooring in kitchens would terminate at the front of the cabinets, in an effort to save on costs (as there would be less flooring material to put down). That’s no longer the case. Today, we run the flooring all the way back to the wall and under the cabinets. There are several reasons for this, which we will explain in more detail.

First, the new trend in trim work is reducing the need for quarter round trim where the base of the cabinet and the floor meet. Trim work has become more intricate to create cleaner lines, especially for sleek and modern kitchens. 

Many baseboards are installed without a smaller trim piece as well which creates a cleaner aesthetic and is much easier to clean. This is particularly important in the kitchen. Some waterfall countertops terminate directly into the floor without a trim altogether. Many kitchen islands in modern homes no longer have trim around the base which makes it important to have a solid surface (i.e. flooring) underneath.

Another reason for running the flooring all the way to the wall is the appliances. Appliances are much easier to maneuver in and out when there is a smooth surface underneath. This means there is no risk of it catching on the unfinished edge of the flooring. Also, if there are any spillages that travel under an appliance, all you need to do is move the appliance. This is much easier with a continuing surface underneath. Another thing to consider here is that the subfloor doesn’t get damaged, meaning instead of it becoming wet, molding and then causing much bigger issues, spillages can easily be cleaned up without this risk.

Finally, by installing flooring all the way to the wall, this opens up a lot of future opportunities. In some years to come, a reconfiguration of cabinetry could be on the cards and trying to match flooring (especially hardwood) can be extremely difficult. This makes it easier to change island configurations too.

The key thing to avoid is patching up the flooring in the future. You can more easily refinish hardwood flooring in particular, than you can create a seamless finish when patching or infilling lengths.

For one of our recent projects, the kitchen flooring was a continuation of timber floor from the rest of the home and therefore ran under most of the cabinets.

Flooring in Bathrooms 

In this project, it was important to install the marble flooring throughout, right underneath the vanity units and bathtub. This helps to create a seamless finish and minimizes risk for water damage.

Some of the principles explained in the kitchen section are relevant in bathrooms too, but there are some extra precautions you should consider.

Previously, tiling would be installed up to bathtubs, showers, toilets and sinks in order to save costs and for those elements to have the solid subfloor to fix to. This does however come with its own concerns around spillages and leaks.

Due to the bathroom being more prone to water-related leaks than kitchens, it is very important to consider this decision carefully. If tiling can be installed before the fixtures (freestanding bathtubs etc) themselves, any leak or spillage will be contained to that room. It is important to remember, however, not to tile underneath a drop-in or alcove tub as the subfloor is designed to support the feet of these types of bathtubs. 

There is some debate over this in general – whether tiling should be laid underneath bathtubs. By doing so there is less risk of any major damage done to the subfloor and ceiling of the room below, but this decision should be driven by what style of bath you are installing.

If there is existing plumbing work in place which is required for new fixtures, the flooring should be installed up to these, unless they are to be free-standing vanity units or wall-hung. In which case, flooring should be installed underneath or up to the walls.

Always ensure the flooring you choose for the bathroom is suitable for wet environments, so waterproof or highly water-resistant at the least (if not using tiles). Always check to make sure the flooring material is rated for wet use by the manufacturer. 

By installing the flooring throughout the whole bathroom, you seal the room, and future proofs the space for any updates or reconfigurations in years to come.

We hope this post has been helpful and provided more of an insight into what aspects to consider when deciding where the flooring should stop in kitchens and bathrooms. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!