Flush Toe Kick Vs Recessed Toe Kick: Which Is Right For My Cabinet?


Flush Toe Kick Vs Recessed Toe Kick

When putting in cabinets you have a few different options. For cabinets that will be floor mounted, you will need to decide on a flush toe kick or a recessed kick. This may be a matter of preference, however, there can be benefits for both, depending on your situation.

A toe kick is located at the bottom of the cabinet, where the cabinet meets the floor. The flushed toe kick is flush to the flooring. The Recessed toe kick, leaves space underneath for your feet. The recessed toe kick can be decorative or just a small open space.

The recessed toe kick leaves room for your feet underneath the cabinet. This can be helpful in a kitchen where you are preparing food or doing dishes. The flush toe kick leaves no room for your toes, it is just a trim piece that covers the bottom of the cabinet where it meets the flooring.

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Why Have a Toe Kick at All?

The toe kick is an important part of any lower cabinet that you would spend time standing in front of. This includes kitchen cabinets and lower bathroom cabinets. A toe kick is a recessed or flush space under the bottom of cabinets that give a little bit of space for your feet.

This is so your toes are not up against the cabinets, while you are doing things like preparing food, or brushing your teeth for the night. It is mostly about comfort. You could still prepare food with a flush toe kick that has no recessed space.

So why have them at all? Cabinets are either attached directly to the wall, or they have legs. Without a toe kick, you would have space all the way underneath, from the front of the cabinet to the wall. No one wants to clean spaces like that.

The toe kick, whether recessed or flush, puts a piece of trim/molding down there. They can be decorative or just a flat piece. The average toe kick is 3 inches deep by 3-4 inches tall.

Where Can Toe Kicks Go?

It’s not just kitchen cabinets, and bathroom cabinets, that can benefit from a toe kick. Other places could use this style just as well.

Useful places for toe kicks:

  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Bathroom cabinets
  • Bathroom vanities
  • Workshop cabinets

Kitchens and bathroom cabinets are the obvious places that can benefit from a toe kick. Bathroom vanities or any cabinet that has a sink is another great place for them. The same goes for workshop cabinets if you are working on a lower cabinet, having room for your toes is more comfortable and allows you to maneuver easier while doing your work.

What is a Flush Toe Kick?

A flush toe kick is a toe kick that does not have the recessed area for your toes. Rather it is flush with the flooring. This is more of a piece of trim or molding, designed to keep you from having to clean underneath the bottom of the cabinets. They have a nice streamlined look that some people prefer.

These types of toe kicks can look great in areas like built-in bars, or islands. A lot of modern designs prefer flush toe kicks, that match the larger white trim pieces that are used In kitchens and bathrooms. All-white kitchens are popular and having the flush white toe kick makes a difference when you are going for that modern look.

What is a Recessed Toe Kick?

The recessed toe kick is a toe kick that leaves a few inches on the bottom of the cabinets, for your feet and toes. I prefer a recessed toe kick, over a flush toe kick, but that is my personal preference. Having that extra room for your feet, allows you to prepare food, or work on top of a cabinet without getting your toes all scrunched up.

I spend a lot of hours working in my shop, and having the recessed cabinet and workspace, lets me work more comfortably. There are many styles of recessed toe kicks, from plain flat pieces to intricate designs.

Flush Toe Kick Vs Recessed Toe Kick

Let’s look at the pros and cons, of flush toe kicks vs recessed to kicks, side by side.

Kick Type The Pros The Cons
Flush Toe Kicks They have a more streamlined look when matching other flush trim pieces. There is no room for your feet. Your toes may have to push against the kick while working at the cabinet.
Recessed Toe Kicks There is room for your toes and feet. This makes it much more comfortable when preparing food or working. They may not match the other flush type trim in the house. You may prefer to have a continuous flow.

While this may be more of a matter of preference, I don’t see why every set of cabinets would not have a recessed toe kick. There is just more room for you to work with. Plus, they still look nice. However, if you prefer the streamlined look, no one is judging you!

Design and Ergonomics

The reason people use recessed toe kicks in their interior designs is really a matter of ergonomics. Making your spaces as comfortable as possible has many benefits. We spend a great deal of time in the kitchen, preparing meals, and putting away dishes.

The same goes for the bathroom. Having that space for your toes, and feet, while you are brushing your teeth, and getting ready for bed, feels nice. Ergonomics is the study of efficiency and comfort. Using that knowledge in the places we work, and spend time, is an awesome way to stay comfortable while you work.

Design Options for Toe Kicks

Toe kicks have several options for designs. Both the flush and recessed to kicks, come in different styles, and sometimes colors. Sometimes, the toe kick piece will be painted black. This is so that it has the effect of disappearing into the shadows underneath.

Usually, however, they are painted the same color as the cabinets. There are also semi flush toe kicks, that are flush on both ends but have an angle, or arch that opens up to the recessed part in the middle.

In my kitchen, the toe kicks are recessed, but they have an angle at each of the very ends of the cabinet sets. This makes it easy to sweep underneath and pull the dust out against the angles. Some toe kicks have fancy designs, like floral patterns, cut into the wood on each side.

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Related Questions

What is the difference between baseboards and flush toe kicks?

The toe kicks are at the bottom of the cabinets so that the space underneath does not have to be cleaned and the area is less visible. Having the flush toe kicks, along with large trim, such as 2×4 or 2×6 baseboards, can have a more streamlined look.

Are flush toe kicks uncomfortable?

This is up for debate, and this is really where this becomes a matter of preference. While some people might find the recessed toe kicks are more comfortable, others have noted, that working around a flush toe kick, doesn’t feel that much different. It depends on what works for you.

Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of homeowners and home improvement enthusiasts who enjoy sharing decorating, gardening, home improvement, and housekeeping tips with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for advice on furnishing your living room or the next outdoor DIY project, we've got you covered.

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