Custom kitchen cabinetry can be made in any dimension you want, but if you are buying semi-custom or stock cabinets, either preassembled or RTA (ready-to-assemble), you will have to choose from standard dimensions that nearly all manufacturers follow. This is normally not a problem, since the cabinets come in an impressive range of stock sizes, and because a variety of fillers and accessories can be used to fill odd spaces.
Base cabinets, wall cabinets, and tall specialty cabinets all have their own range of standard sizes. When choosing a size for base cabinets, remember that the sizes are from floor to top of the cabinet box—they don't include the thickness of whatever countertop will sit atop the base cabinets.
Base Cabinet Height, Depth, and Width
Base kitchen cabinets are the workhorses of kitchen design, installed directly on the floor. Counters are laid on them, sinks installed within them, dishwashers and ranges bracketed by them, and pots and pans are stored within them. Kitchen base cabinets are the most expensive of all kitchen cabinets, and for a good reason: We ask a lot from them.
When buying semi-custom or stock preassembled or RTA cabinets, base cabinets are generally available in these dimensions:
|Height, without countertop||34 1/2 inches|
|Height, with countertop||35 to 36 inches|
|Depth (front to wall), without
|Depth, with countertop||25 to 26 inches|
|Standard widths||12, 18, 24, 30, 33, 36, 48 inches|
Base Cabinet Height
Base cabinet height is the dimension that is least variable—virtually all base cabinets come from the factory at 34 1/2 inches tall. Building codes and accepted design practices like to stress accessibility, and the wrong height is the one aspect that can make a base cabinet inaccessible. Where different heights are needed—such as in a kitchen for a wheelchair user—the cabinets generally need to be custom-made to different heights.
After adding a countertop, the eventual height of most base cabinets is between 35 and 36 inches, depending on the material used in the countertop. Height is flexible. For example, Dupont allows for direct installation of 1/2-inch Corian directly onto a supportive framework, without a continuous underlayment. Adding an underlay might add another 1/2 inch to the height.
It is often said that "countertops should fit the user." Due to individual needs, countertops sometimes go as low as 32 inches and as high as 38 inches, but these heights require custom fabrication.
Base Cabinet Depth
The depth measurement is taken from the front outer front edge of the cabinet to the wall. Stock base cabinets are generally 24 inches deep (not counting countertop overhang). Deeper base cabinets make it difficult for you to reach the back of the counter or to plug-in appliances. If you have ever had difficulty reaching items in a blind corner (where two sets of cabinets meet at a right angle), you will know how distances beyond 24 inches quickly become difficult.
Because countertops generally overlap the base cabinets at the front, the overall depth (with countertop) usually measures 25 to 26 inches, depending on the edge detailing.
There are also 12-inch, 15-inch, and 18-inch deep cabinets available for special circumstances, although not all manufacturers stock them.
Base Cabinet Width
Base cabinet width is the great variable, and each cabinet tends to be aimed toward certain uses. Widths generally range from 9 to 48 inches in 3-inch increments, and are chosen both to meet space needs and to provide specific functions:
|Dimension (Inches)||Cabinet Type|
|9, 12, 18, 24 inches||Filler cabinets can accommodate pull-outs, those narrow rolling racks which are great for storing baking pans or spices.|
|30 inches||Single basin sink|
|33 inches||Double-basin, offset sink|
|36 inches||Double-basin sink|
|48 inches||Largest base cabinet size commonly found in kitchens|
Wall Cabinet Height, Depth and Width
Wall cabinets are used for storing food and lightweight kitchen implements. They are attached directly to the wall studs with screws. In some cases, such as when forming a bank of upper cabinets above a peninsula or island, the cabinets can be suspended from the ceiling or attached to overhanging soffits.
Wall cabinets are the most visible cabinetry in a kitchen and serve as a showpiece. Some owners save money by purchasing very basic cabinets for the base cabinetry, but splurging on wall cabinets that have more accessories, such as glass inserts or in-cabinet lighting.
|Standard heights||12, 15, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42 inches|
|Standard depths||12, 15, 18, 24 inches|
|Standard widths||9 to 48 inches, in 3-inch increments|
Wall Cabinet Height
Height tends to be limited since the cabinets need to fit between the counter and the ceiling. Common wall cabinet heights are 12, 36, and 42 inches. In standard kitchens, the wall cabinets are typically 30 or 36 inches tall, with the space above enclosed by soffits. Where the cabinets run all the way to the ceiling, 48-inch cabinets are the logical choice. A 12-inch or 15-inch tall cabinet fits neatly over a refrigerator.
Wall Cabinet Depth
Maximum depth for wall cabinets is 24 inches because it cannot exceed the depth of base cabinets, but shallower cabinets are more common in order to maximize working space on the countertop. Most commonly, wall cabinets are 12 inches deep, since this provides a good compromise between storage space in the kitchen cabinets and workable countertop space below the cabinet. Above microwave ovens, a 15- to 18-inch deep cabinet is common, and above a refrigerator, a 24-inch deep cabinet is standard.
Wall Cabinet Width
Wall cabinet widths run from 9 to 48 inches in 3-inch increments, though it is rare to install cabinets wider than 36 inches. Most common is the 30-inch side single-or double-door wall cabinet, which offers the best proportions for most storage needs.
Tall Cabinet Height, Depth, and Width
Most kitchens have at least one extra-tall cabinet, often installed in an alcove alongside the refrigerator. These tall cabinets are sometimes known as pantry cabinets or utility cabinets. As befits the name, tall kitchen cabinets can even extend from floor to ceiling.
|Height||84 or 96 inches|
|Depth||12 or 24 inches|
|Width||12, 24, oe 36 inches|
Tall Cabinet Height
Tall kitchen cabinets are most typically 84 or 96 inches tall. A 96-inch tall cabinet will run floor to ceiling in a standard 8-foot room, while an 84-inch-tall cabinet provides a foot of breathing room, and can offer a uniform line with surrounding wall cabinets.
Tall Cabinet Depth
Tall cabinets are typically available either at 12-inch or 24-inches deep. The 12-inch variety is typically used for pantry cabinets that store canned goods, while 24-inch-deep cabinets make good utility cabinets for brooms, mops, and appliances. Pull-out and slider hardware can give greater functionality to 24-inch-deep cabinets.
Tall Cabinet Width
Tall cabinets are typically available in 12-inch, 24-inch, and 36-inch widths:
- 12-inch: Narrow pantry cabinets hold far more food than you might think, especially if equipped with storage accessories. Plus, they can fit into otherwise-neglected spaces.
- 24-inch: This is a good middle-of-the-road option that fits many homes.
- 36-inch: If you want pull-outs and storage on the doors of the cabinet, you'll need a wider kitchen pantry cabinet.