how high should kitchen cabinets be from countertop

If you are planning to create an inviting and comfortable dining area. One of the most important decisions when designing or remodeling your kitchen is how high should kitchen cabinets be from countertop. The standard height for upper cabinets is 18 inches above the countertop, but this may not be the best option for everyone. In this blog post, we will explore some of the factors that affect the ideal upper cabinet height and some of the benefits and drawbacks of raising or lowering them.

cabinet height above counter

Upper kitchen cabinets are a key component of our comfortable house
Credit: Pixabay

What Factors Affect the Ideal Upper Cabinet Height?

The ideal upper cabinet height depends on a combination of factors, such as:

  • The height of your base cabinets: The base cabinets are the ones that sit on the ground and provide a stable foundation for your kitchen. The standard height for base cabinets is 34-½ inches.
  • The thickness of your countertop: The countertop is the surface where you prepare and serve food. The thickness of your countertop also affects how much space you have above it for your upper cabinets. The standard thickness of a countertop is 1-¼ inches.
  • The height of your backsplash: The backsplash is the vertical wall behind your countertop that protects it from stains and splashes. The height of your backsplash affects how much space you have above it for your upper cabinets. A standard backsplash height is 15 inches.

Based on the provided information, the height of your upper cabinet can be calculated as follows:

= Height of Base Cabinets + Thickness of Countertop + Height of Backsplash

Assuming the dimensions of these three factors are standard, the height of your upper cabinet will be:

34-½ inches + 1-¼ inches + 15 inches =  50-¾ inches 

In addition, it also depends on your personal preferences and needs. Ultimately, the ideal upper cabinet height is what works best for you and your family. You may want to consider factors such as accessibility, functionality, aesthetics, storage space, and budget when deciding how high to install your kitchen cabinets.

upper cabinet height above counter
Besides the standard dimensions, upper cabinets should be adjusted to suit our specific needs
Credit: ©vanitjan on Canva.com

What Are Some Benefits and Drawbacks of Raising or Lowering Your Upper Cabinets?

Depending on how high you install your upper cabinets, you may experience some benefits or drawbacks.

Accessibility

Raising or lowering your upper cabinets can affect how easy it is for you and others to reach them from a standing position. If you raise them too high, they may become difficult to access without a stool or a ladder. If you lower them too low, they may block some appliances or items from being placed on or under them.

Functionality

Raising or lowering your upper cabinet height above counters can affect how well they fit with other elements in your kitchen, such as appliances, faucets, sinks, countertops, walls, windows, doors, etc. If you raise them too high, they may interfere with some appliances or items that are placed below them. If you lower them too low, they may create gaps between them and other elements that reduce their efficiency or appearance.

kitchen cabinet height above counter
The kitchen appliances and other components may be impacted by the upper cabinets
Credit: ©Kerkez on Canva.com

Aesthetics

Adjusting the height of your upper cabinets can significantly influence their visual relationship with other components in your kitchen. Elevating them excessively might give the illusion of a more spacious kitchen than what truly exists. Conversely, positioning them too low could create a perception of a more cramped space. Therefore, it’s crucial to find a balance that suits your kitchen’s dimensions and your personal aesthetic preferences.

Storage space

Raising or lowering your upper cabinets can affect how much storage space they provide at an easily reachable height. If you raise them too high, they may reduce their storage capacity by taking up more vertical space.

height of upper cabinet above counter
Some benefits and drawbacks of adjusting upper cabinet height
Credit: ©valentynsemenov on Canva.com

How Can You Find Out How High Your Upper Cabinets Should Be?

The best way to find out how high your upper cabinets should be is to measure it yourself using a tape measure and a level. You can either measure it before installing any base cabinets or after installing any base cabinets if you plan to replace them later.

Before Installing Base Cabinets

Step 1: Identify the height

Determine the height of your upper cabinets. Standard upper cabinets are typically 30 inches tall, but the height can vary depending on your kitchen design.

Step 2: Measure from the ceiling

Measure the distance from the ceiling to the point where the top of the upper cabinet will be. This is usually 18 inches above the countertop level.

Step 3: Measure the width

Measure the width of the area where the upper cabinets will be installed. Make sure to account for any appliances or fixtures.

Step 4: Check for Level

Use a level to ensure that the area where the cabinets will be installed is level. This is crucial for proper installation.

How to take your top cabinets' height measurements before installing base cabinets
How to take your top cabinets' height measurements before installing base cabinets
Credit: ©valentynsemenov on Canva.com

After Installing Base Cabinets

Step 1: Measure from the countertop

After the base cabinets are installed, measure up from the countertop to determine where the bottom of the upper cabinets will be. This is typically 18 inches.

Step 2: Check the distance

Measure the distance from the top of the base cabinet to the bottom of the upper cabinet to ensure it matches your initial measurements.

Step 3: Measure the width

Again, measure the width of the area where the upper cabinets have been installed. It should match your initial measurements.

Step 4: Check for level

Finally, use a level to check that the installed cabinets are level. If they're not, you may need to make adjustments.

How to take your top cabinets' height measurements after installing base cabinets
How to take your top cabinets' height measurements after installing base cabinets
Credit: ©valentynsemenov on Canva.com

Through this enlightening journey, our aim is to guide you to the perfect answer to the pivotal question, “How high should kitchen cabinets be from the countertop?” We hope this blog post illuminates your path to creating a kitchen that’s not just visually appealing, but also ergonomically efficient. While the standard distance is typically 18 inches, this can vary based on individual needs and preferences. Accurate measurements are key to ensuring a functional and aesthetically pleasing kitchen layout. Whether you're installing new cabinets or adjusting existing ones, always remember to measure twice and install once for the best results. If you're unsure, it may be best to consult with a professional. Happy DIY-ing! 

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