Uneven kitchen flooring is common in older homes in which foundations and beams have settled and shifted over time. It is typically not a safety concern as much as it is aesthetically unpleasing. Even a slight slope in the floor can be noticeable and may cause differences in the height of your counter at opposite ends of the kitchen. It can also throw off any wallpaper or flooring designs, which may draw attention and lead to frustration for homeowners who see the flaws daily.
However, it is not necessary to have a perfectly flat and level floor in order to have your new cabinets and countertop turn out level. Drastically sloped floors will always be best if carefully leveled and strengthened. But, for minor slopes or ridges, a few techniques can help avoid the tedious work involved with leveling floors, leaving you with a beautifully balanced countertop.
Leveling New Cabinets with Shims
In some cases, leveling the floor is not an option. If you have already installed new flooring, such as tile or wood, you will not be able to easily level the floor without causing damage to the layer you have installed. In this case, the first technique for getting level countertops is to level the cabinets themselves. This would be appropriate for homes in which you are installing new cabinets or where you are able to detach and reposition the old cabinets.
New cabinets can be carefully leveled by using shims during installation. Shims are thin pieces of wood carefully sloped from one end to the other to give very precise control over spacing. If your floor dips on one side beneath your cabinet, place the smallest end of the shim under the low side of your cabinet. Using a hammer or mallet, carefully tap the shim into place until that side of the cabinet is level with the higher side.
Depending on the length of the cabinet, you may need several shims along the low side to hold the cabinet up. Drastically low sides may require the thickness of several shims on top of each other to get the right height. Once the top of the cabinet is level, you can secure the base to the floor or wall as directed by the manufacturer. Do this for old cabinets you are repositioning as well.
Leveling CounterTops on Sloped Cabinets
If your cabinets are already secured in place, or you do not wish to reposition them, the second option is to simply level the top of the cabinets themselves. Again, this is possible by using shims along the top of the cabinet underneath the countertop. On whichever side or section is low, position the shims to support the low side of the countertop and lift it to be level with the high side before securing the countertop in place.
Both of these techniques can ensure a beautifully level countertop for your kitchen while a piece of trim can provide a finishing touch to hide the gap between floor and cabinet or cabinet and countertop. For more helpful home improvement tips, see our blog!