Which Comes First in Your Kitchen: Countertops or Cabinets?

Does this sound a bit like a “chicken and egg” question? Not surprising. After all, if you don’t have cabinets, you don’t have counters to top — but you’ve got to have a top to cover the inside of the cabinets, too. Never fear. With a few tips from the experts at Diamond Kitchen and Bath, you can get answers that fit your renovation visions…and your budget.

Here are a few things to consider upfront:


This is the first question to answer, of course. If you’re building a new home and the kitchen’s going in from the subfloor up, you’ll have a different approach than if you’re merely refreshing an already existing space with new appliances or cabinetry. For our purposes here, let’s say you’re redoing a kitchen, upgrading a tired space either to make it more efficient or simply to give it a new look. Think about what colors you want to bring into the kitchen — and conversely, what colors you want to take out if you’re tired of them.


If you’ve been dreaming of new granite, quartz, ceramic tile, or concrete countertops for years, don’t assume you can merely “top out” your old cabinets with the new material. Yes, your kitchen cabinets are sturdy — but a stone of any kind weighs considerably more than laminate, tile, or even butcher block. Concrete has to be poured from scratch, and if you add decorative elements such as colored glass or other texture to it, that only increases its already substantial load.

This is where the advice of a professional designer and/or contractor is invaluable: there’s nothing worse than having a dream countertop delivered and to think you’re ready to go, only to discover your present cabinetry either needs to be replaced or significantly reinforced in order to safely support it. Be sure to plan accordingly.


Finally, if you’re out to reconfigure your kitchen for better efficiency — setting up a more practical “work triangle,” adding a center island, or the like — you’ll probably be replacing both some cabinetry and some countertops, if not all of them. If any appliances are going into a countertop, such as a cooktop or sink on a center island, you’ll need to rough cut that space in the countertop material before it’s installed — and you may need to remodel a cabinet beneath it to accommodate electrical or plumbing additions.

Even if you’re not doing a major makeover to your kitchen layout, some new cabinetry isn’t a bad idea. Cabinets have come a long way in the past few years: now, they accommodate sliding compartments, pull-out shelves, and drawers of varying depths that double or even triple storage space without adding to the footprint. In this case, it might not be a question of “either-or” with new countertops; it might be “both-and.” Think about what your dream kitchen will be, and then come talk to the folks at Diamond Kitchen and Bath… and you won’t have to worry about “which comes first,” because you’ll have the best of both.