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How Much Space Between Countertop and Upper Cabinets?

Trying to figure out the amount of space to keep between the kitchen countertop and upper cabinets can become a matter of real stress. The right position, as well as the height, is very important to ensure the maximum usability of kitchen cabinets.

How much space between countertop and upper cabinets?

The standard distance between countertop and upper cabinets is 18 inches. If you look around you can find cabinets anywhere between 15-24 inches above the countertop. This happens because the height can vary with the height of the users as well as the countertop, and also, personal preference.

Planning a new kitchen can be difficult. It is not always right to go after trends only. While higher cabinets are in style right now, the same height may not be suitable for your family.

This is why there is no specific measurement that you must follow. As long as you are comfortable with the setup, you are good to go.

An 18 inches distance is considered somewhat standard between the countertop and upper cabinets. But it can be anywhere in between 15-24 inches. It is wise not to go above 20 inches if it causes you to strain your legs and hands.

But if you are comfortable using a stool to reach the upper cabinets, that’s fine too.

What is the standard distance between the kitchen countertop and upper cabinets? How high should kitchen cabinets be from the countertop?

The standard distance between the kitchen countertop and upper cabinets is 18 inches. If you look around some home kitchens, you can find the upper kitchen cabinets 15-24 inches higher from the countertops.

Experts suggest that if you’re preparing a new kitchen and can’t decide on the right height for the upper cabinets, it will be safer to go for the 18 inches distance.

Kitchen cabinets should be at a height that is comfortable to reach out by all the users. But priority should be given to the users that use the kitchen the most and every day.

It is wise to consider the heights of all the users and decide on a distance that is convenient for everyone. Apart from the height of the users, the distance between the countertop and upper cabinets depends on a lot of other things.

6 factors that affect the space between the countertop and upper cabinet

There are multiple facts that should be taken to concern before deciding the space in between. Let’s get to know them.

Height of the users:

The most important factor affecting the space between the countertop and upper cabinet is the height of the users. The prime users should get the most priority in this case.

Straining the back or hands while trying to reach the shelves is unwanted. The upper cabinet should be at a height that is convenient to reach out to.

You can decide on a height keeping all the users’ heights in mind. If you’re still confused about the right measurements, you can just go for the 18 inches distance from the countertop. It is an almost standard distance to maintain.

Height of the countertop:

The second most important factor to consider is the height of the countertop. The general height of a countertop is 36 inches. But it can differ a lot depending on the age and design of the homes.

It is essential to measure the height of the countertop as you can find some countertops that are too high or too low.

You can’t maintain the same 18 inches height for these countertops or else you will end up with upper cabinets that are awkwardly high or low.

Height of the ceiling:

The height of the ceiling also plays a very important role. Your preparations must include measuring the height of the ceiling.

No matter what height you are planning to go for the upper cabinets, if the ceiling’s height is too low, you might have to compromise with the distance.

On the contrary, if your kitchen has a high ceiling, you may need to increase the distance to cover up for some of the extra space. Lower cabinets may ruin the outlook of a kitchen with a high ceiling.

Location of the oven/range:

The locations of the ovens or range also need to be brought into consideration. There are code requirements for how high cabinets can be above ranges and ovens.

Find out your local building code before deciding on a height for the upper cabinets.

Design of the home:

Design of your home matters too. If you hang your kitchen upper cabinets too high or low compared to other cabinets of the home, they may look out of place. So you need to consider the design of the home as well.

Make sure that the kitchen cabinets blend well with other cabinets as well as the furniture of your place.

Personal preference:

While it should be strictly avoided to install the upper cabinets at a height that requires straining body parts to reach the shelves, the distance between the countertop and upper cabinets largely depends on the user’s preference.

If someone prefers to use a stool to reach out to the upper shelves, it is quite fine too, as long as the user is comfortable.

Are 15, 20, 22 & 24 inches between countertop and cabinets enough?

In modern kitchen designs, many people are installing their kitchen upper cabinets 24 inches above the countertop. While it complements the aesthetics of modern homes, the height can be too much for some people.

It is important to consider the heights of all the users while deciding on the height for the upper cabinets.

Similarly, a height below 18 inches can be too low for some users. Kitchen cabinets are something that you need to use multiple times a day.

If the height is not convenient for a user, he/she will find it hard to use the cabinets which can be straining. But 15, 20, 22, or 24 inches gaps between the countertop and upper cabinets are common and enough.

How to install upper cabinets over the countertop?

To install the upper cabinets, you need to make sure that you follow the steps properly. Here is a guide to help you with the process.

Prepare the kitchen if needed:

Before you start installing the cabinets, you should prepare the kitchen first. Check for any repairing or painting that needs to be done and take care of that. Also, turn off the plumbing, electrical, and gas lines for safety precautions.

Measure and mark where the bottom of the upper cabinets will be:

Now you need to carefully mark the kitchen wall where you will be hanging the cabinets. You can use the painter’s tape for this job.

Mark the place where the bottom of the upper cabinets will be. Finally, you need to locate the studs and mark them on the wall.

Install support for the cabinets:

You can fit a ledger board into the studs right below the marked location for the cabinet’s bottom. This will help you install the cabinets one by one and act as a support so you can comfortably clamp, drill, and screw.

Assemble the upper cabinets:

If the cabinets aren’t already preassembled, you should start assembling them part by part. Take time to do this step. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions properly to speed up the process.

Install the upper cabinets:

Drill pilot holes on both the bottom and top sides of all the units. Now you can start installing the cabinets. It is better to start from the corner. If there’s no corner unit, start from the left side.

Start by hanging one unit at a time. Use the mounting screws to fix them on the wall but don’t tighten them up. Check if the cabinet is leveled and use shims to make it plumb if needed.

Next, mount the second unit. Use clamps to hold the two units together. Mount the screws the same way as the first one. Use shims if necessary. Repeat the process for all the units.

Keep checking the faces and edges to make sure that they are even and leveled. You can use a cabinet filler strip if there’s any gap at the end.

Now as all the cabinets are mounted properly, you can tighten the screw and take the clamps off. Remove the support below and you are all set.

Final Thoughts

A standard space to keep between countertop and kitchen upper cabinets is 18 inches. But it can be anywhere between 15 to 24 inches. In modern homes, you can find upper cabinets placed 20-24 inches above the countertops. But the placement mainly depends on the user’s comfort and convenience.