6 Built-In Cabinet on Carpet

Next Video

cabinets, carpet, tack strip, base, screws, 3/4″ plywood, carpet pad

You love built-ins; kids love carpets. Can you have it all in one room? Hi. I’m Nathan Harrison for Fine Remodel.com. You love built in cabinets, and you love your kids. And your kids love carpets. But do built in cabinets and carpets mix? They do if you know how to do it right. Let’s take a look.

If you’re planning to have built-ins in a room with carpet, you need to think about exactly how you’re going to deal with the carpet. Why would it be a problem to just set it on the carpet? Here’s the problem.

When the cabinets are first set on the carpet and fastened to the wall, the cabinets are very happy. There is no strain on them. But as you load them full of stuff (which is what cabinets are for), they are going to press down into the carpet. This is going to place strange loads on different parts of the cabinet. Now, very well-made cabinets can handle that, but why push your luck if there is a very simple remedy to keep this from happening.

Let’s take a quick look at what is under a carpet. Here we have a carpet coming to a baseboard. Then sheet-rock behind the baseboard. Here we can see with the carpet pulled back, the carpet tack strip, which is a wooden strip nailed to the sub-floor and has little nails to catch and secure the carpet along the walls. And then we have the carpet pad (this pink thing underneath). So close to the wall, the cabinet doesn’t have the ability to settle very much, but farther out it’s much more cushy, and there can been more settling.

Many people would tell you to just cut the carpet and put a new tack strip along the edge of the cabinets. But his involves a careful cut and re-tacking around potentially complex shapes. For example, with this complex of built-in cabinets, we’d be cutting around, we’d have to make several cuts. First of all, it’s a lot of work, and there is a lot that could go wrong. What if the cabinet man cuts the carpet wrong? It’s turning into a big headache.

I have good news. Using my method, you can leave the carpet in place and simply place the cabinets on the carpet. And there is one really big hidden benefit that I’ll get to in a minute.

Now, you may say, “We’re going to have carpet under these cabinets, but what if we want to go to hardwood later or change the carpet later? What will we do?”

Well, you’ll simply cut the carpet around the cabinets and cut in the new carpet or flooring around them. It will be our secret that the old carpet is still under there.

Here’s the key to making all this work. Design the cabinets with detached bases of 3/4″ plywood. Accept no substitute. We need 3/4″ plywood with these diagonal gussets around the bottom on one side. This one is shown standing on it’s side. It’s also very important that the gussets be stapled in from the outside.

Here is a detached base shown in an actual installation. You’ll notice it’s been painted the same color as the cabinets. Here’s a tip: if you design these bases to be same height as the base, then you don’t even have to remove the existing base along the wall in your house. This is a huge bonus, especially if you have old or very special base.

The detached base I have shown here is a larger one for a different situation. But it’s still valid nonetheless. To begin the installation, you put it against the base. Then screw down through all 4 of these gussets – firmly down through the carpet & the sub-floor. We want this detached base to be held down so lightly by the screws that no reasonable amount of weight on the cabinets will push them down any more.

Once the bases are secure, we simply set the cabinets on top and shim as necessary and screw to the wall. Remember, the cabinets being screwed to the wall means that much of the load on the cabinets should be transferred back to the studs. But now it doesn’t matter because the base we have on the carpet is firm, it’s not going to settle, it’s not going anywhere.

Having a detached base means having separate pieces. How do we hide that crack? Well, in this case you can see I’ve used what’s called a negative reveal. The detached base was made a little smaller than the cabinet so that a normal person standing in the room can a recess – no crack. It’s very pleasing to the eye.

Another method is what’s shown here where a detached base was set on the carpet, the cabinets were set there, and the detached base was completely hidden by a piece of base that runs flush with the doors and is scribed to the carpet.