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Dishwasher vs. Floor – avoiding a common mistake.

Here’s a tip: partial remodels can be as much work as a full remodel.  Or at least takes as much pre-thought to design.

One of the top mistakes in a partial remodel: changing the kitchen flooring, and nothing else. Where’s the mistake, you ask?

Let’s say you decide not to replace your old 1970s cabinets, but the horrible white vinyl floor has got.to.go. You’ve always wanted tile and pick this wonderful warm terracotta-colored porcelain. Or a beautiful wood floor.  Either way, you can’t wait, right?

So you get your flooring but you forgot to check the dishwasher and how it fits under the current counter.

In many 1970s and earlier homes, the dishwasher was an afterthought, often shoved in by brute force. The floors used to be a thin 1/8″ linoleum. What do you think happens when you install the new (thicker) wood flooring?

Bang. Your dishwasher no longer fits under your counter.


Even an inch of new floor height can make a difference!

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but there’s no solution other than getting new flooring or getting a new counter: flooring is always installed under the dishwasher. If you’re going to raise an already tight dishwasher an extra 3/8″ – 3/4″, you should check to see if it will fit under the counter first with the new raised height.

If you’re facing this now, I can even bet what you’re thinking: “Oh well, we’ll just install tile/wood up to the dishwasher and leave it.”  Sure! Until you need to service or replace it, that is, and you end up busting up the floor, Rambo-style, to get the dishwasher out.

The hits this one post receives from web searches outnumbers almost anything else on my blog by a 4-1 margin, which tells me there’s a lot of you either already facing this problem, and/or cursing out the previous owners who did this to you.

So do yourself a favor: before you decide on your flooring for your partial remodel, check how tight the dishwasher is to the underside of the counter. Some counter height are also lower than the standard 34-1/2″ (to the underside of the counter.)

Remove the footplate and look at the adjustable legs (most often a screw base). Are they as low as they can get? The top of the dishwasher is already as tight to the counter as it can go, and you can’t lower the legs any further?

If so, you may have to either stick with the same existing style/thickness of flooring, or wait until you can afford to replace the cabinets and countertops.

Sometimes, yes, we have to work with what we have. I’d just hate for you to get your nice new floor in and discover this sad fact afterwards.

On the bright side: there’s your excuse for those of you wanting or needing a new dishwasher/floor/counter/kitchen. “Honey? We can’t replace the floor without new cabinets; the dishwasher won’t fit.”  *grin*

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  1. nice tips for remodeling tnx for sharing this kelly!

  2. Adrienne Palmer says:

    hahaha! I should clarify … “planning” not “paying” ;)

  3. Yes, those of us in the trade unfortunately see that more than we want to. Thanks for sharing it.
    (Er, the stuck dishwasher part, I mean, not the “Welcome to the family–have a kitchen!” Care to adopt?) ;)

  4. Adrienne Palmer says:

    That got me thinking about my brother & soon to be sister-in-law’s recent town home purchase — the previous owner remodeled the kitchen via the home-depot-my-boyfriend-installed-it route (seriously!), leaving them with appliances walled in by horrible marble tile that was glued directly to the concrete subfloor with some kind of mastic glue! Since the appliances & cabinets were installed onto the concrete and then the flooring was installed, butted up to all the appliances, if they ever need to replace the dishwasher they will need to jackhammer all the marble out.
    Thankfully my sister in law is marrying into a family of kitchen designers! Susan has already planned the new kitchen for them :)
    Adrienne Palmer

  5. Oh, yes. Slide-in ranges. Refrigerators that are already tight to the wall cabinet above them. All of the above.
    I’m not sure if the congratulations should be because of longevity (is that 27 in dog years?) or gabbiness, but it’s all gratefully accepted… ;)

  6. Good one Kelly. Height discrepancies between new floors and old floors are easy to overlook but can be real killers if they’re only caught when the new appliances show up. Slide-in ranges present similar problems. Congrats on your longevity by the way.

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