Standard Kitchen Cabinet Sizes: Heights, Base, Depth, Width

Folks looking to upgrade their kitchen cabinets will likely browse the internet for ideas. Not everyone has enough knowledge about it. There is more to choosing styles and colors. Some people want to know more about dimensions, among others.

kitchen cabinets

Getting the correct sizes is essential because it translates to getting the best fit and maximizing area. Width, depth, height, and base are significant dimensions worth noting when shopping for your next upgrade.

It is normal to find yourself confused by all these types. This article is a walkthrough of everything you need about standard kitchen cabinet sizes. These sizes matter because size works best for different applications. 

Types of kitchen cabinets

We are dividing this part into three sections – standard cabinet dimensions, cabinet quality grade, and popular kitchen styles. We think doing it this way makes it easier to understand. 

White Upper cabinets

Standard cabinet dimensions

The basic types are base, tall, wall, and specialty units. Each has standard dimensions, which we will cover below.

Base cabinet dimensions

A standard base measures 36 inches tall and 24 inches deep. The depth may increase to a maximum depth of 27 inches on custom and semi-custom applications. A standard base rests atop a four-inch riser or kick toe / toe-kick. We measure from the outer front edge to the wall.

These cabinets bracket a dishwasher. You will find counters on top of them, pots and pans stored within them, and shallow sinks installed within them. You can optionally add drawers to it too. The base type is the most expensive of all because these form part of the foundation.

Its height is the least variable dimension, which comes at 34.5 inches. Persons with disability are provided rare exceptions to this standard height measurement. Ones that need to cater PWDs are custom-made because of the different heights.

The height will rise to 35 to 36 inches after adding a countertop. Some materials allow a direct installation atop, while others need an underlayer.

The width is the most variable measurement in a standard base type, ranging between 9 to 48 inches and increments by three inches.

base cabinet

Tall kitchen cabinet dimensions

Not all kitchens have a tall kitchen cabinet with doors, but a few have at least one unit you will find near the refrigerator. Most people call it a utility closet or a pantry. It extends from your floor to the ceiling, providing plenty of room for storing large quantities.

The standard height is either 84 or 96 inches. A standard 8-feet room can accommodate a 96-inch tall unit, which runs from ceiling to floor. On the other hand, an 84-inch will provide some space.

Tall units have a depth of 12 or 24 inches. Several people use the 12-inch variety for storing canned goods, while the 24-inch for storing appliances, mops, and brooms.

We classify the width into three categories.

  • 12-inch – It is a narrow option ideal for holding food. You can accessorize it by adding dividers or organizers inside. The 12-inch option will fit into neglected spaces easily.
  • 24-inch – This is a great middle-ground for most homes. The 24-inch option may fit almost every home.
  • 36-inch – The 36-inch option is ideal for people looking for pull-outs and door storage. A wider cabinet is your best option.

Upper or wall cabinet dimensions

2 Upper Cabinets

We use the overhead, upper, or wall type to store light items, such as food and small kitchen items. They directly attach to the wall studs using screws. Users can also have these on top of an island or peninsula by suspending them to the ceiling or attaching overhanging soffits. They are the most visible piece in the kitchen, serving as a showpiece too. The upper type is the most used too. Several homeowners prefer the simple base cabinet and spend more on the upper or wall.

The height should fit the space between the ceiling and the counter. You will find heights of 12, 36, and 42 inches. It’s while standard kitchens will have them between 30 to 36 inches tall.

The ones you will find atop a refrigerator typically measure 12 or 15 inches. You will find a narrow space between, while the top attaches to the ceiling.

These have a maximum depth of 24 inches. However, several customers prefer a 12 inches deep configuration because it is a good size compromise. Limiting the depth also limits the number of items you can store, preventing overload and wall tearing.

Last but not least is the width, which runs between 9 to 48 inches and increments in 3-inch measurements. A width greater than 36 inches is rare because most customers prefer a 30-inch double or single-door, providing the best proportions for most needs. 

Specialty unit cabinet dimensions

These units are usually not prefab because it requires specific measurements. Hutches, bottle racks, corner storage units, and appliance garages are some units that fall under the specialty unit category. 

black kitchen cabinets

Cabinet quality grade

There are four quality grades. These are ready-to-assemble (RTA), semi-custom, custom, and stock. The first decision you need to make is your budget. When you have an estimated budget, you can quickly browse through brochures to get a rough costing estimate. The cost is computed per lineal feet, ranging from USD 50 to USD 500. Some stores offer free installation, while others require you to pay it on top.

Ready-to-Assemble (RTA)

The RTA is pre-constructed and available almost instantly. You can find these units pre-boxed from chain home stores. There is not much selection in material, size, and style. Moreover, they require assembly.

You can save significant money with RTAs if you know basic carpentry. However, durability is often questionable with this quality grade. Beware before purchasing. These usually have a lower price than the other quality grades. 

Semi-Custom

The semi-custom has broader material and style selection. From a price standpoint, mid-range options typically fall under this quality grade. It allows size adjustments and typically has better quality than an RTA. Some of its dimensions are standard size, while others are custom. For example, you can adjust an 18-inch width to a 20-inch.

The Semi-custom category offers a wide selection of:

  • styles
  • decorative enhancements
  • storage solutions
  • and finishes.

These units may have stock fittings, custom doors, and other parts. Their pricing typically includes the installation fee.

white kitchen cabinets

Custom

The custom quality grade is the high-end among these four. These are 100% made-to-order and offer the most choices in finishes, materials, and styles. You can even custom-order a lazy susan if you want.

These have innovative design solutions and tailored sizes, fitting any space at your home. Some manufacturers accept increments as low as 0.32 inches. These custom units can quickly drain your budget, so only choose this option if you have a lot of money to spare.

These units provide the customer with exactly what they need. Customers have the flexibility to choose every height, width, depth, shape, and accessory. It pushes customizability to its limits. 

Stock

Manufacturers produce these pre-sized units, serving as basic and economical options. These are mass-produced, and you cannot change the sizes. These are less versatile for most existing spaces because you cannot alter their dimensions.

Most retailers assemble it on-site from a modular unit. They are size-specific and have 3-inch increments. The material manufacturers may include plastic laminate, solid wood, and particleboard during production. Accessories for this type are also limited.

Some brands offer better quality stock units than others, so carefully choosing where to purchase will go a long way. The retail price typically does not include the installation fee. We recommend asking the sales agent first to avoid unforeseen charges.

base cabinet

The standard depth of upper cabinets

Upper cabinets have a standard depth of 12 to 24 inches. The lower end of the range favors an over-the-refrigerator placement, while the higher favors the other areas. It should leave about an 18-inch space between the countertop and the upper unit.

We recommend a hanging design if you place it over a space, another area without a base unit, or a table. The bottom part of the unit should measure about 54 inches from the floor, placing it on the same height as if they were over a countertop. 

Height of cabinets above the counter: Get the right distance

The height comes down to personal preference for most people. Most contractors think an 18-inch space between the countertop and the bottom of the upper/wall unit is ideal. Older homes may have less space between them.

The goal is no more than 20 to 22 inches of space between these two points. An average person may have difficulty reaching the tall units and may not look good or fit if you do not have high ceilings.

In the United States, the average height of a person is 5 feet and 8 inches. It explains why the countertops are 24 inches deep while the base units are 36 inches tall. The bottom part of the cabinet should start right about your chest. However, these measurements are not ideal for all people. A baker may need more space because of baking equipment and other large appliances.

Height of kitchen cabinets from the floor

Most contractors recommend a height of 54 inches or 4 feet and 6 inches from the floor. In other words, the bottom part of the wall/upper unit should be 54 inches from the flooring.

You can change the height according to your preferences. If you and your family are short, you can optionally decrease it to what works for you. One thing to remember is the bottom part of the upper unit starts at the total combined height of the base cabinet, backsplash height, and countertop thickness. 

Height of kitchen counters

The height of the kitchen counter should align with the people using it. The average measurement should be 36 inches / 3 feet above the floor. Kitchen islands for bar-style seating can go up to 42 inches.

Ergonomics

Regardless if you are a short or tall person, we recommend customizing your kitchen countertop to avoid neck and back aches. 

Adjust to any height

You can raise or lower your countertop height as you see fit. It is possible if you are getting a semi-custom or custom cabinet. Adding an inch or two will not have a significant impact on cost.

Standard cabinet door size

The cabinet doors will likely occupy a big chunk of the surface area. Several units come in standard sizes, which is where standard-size doors also come to play. Most doors are smaller to fit the main unit properly. Observing this practice ensures it does not rub against other doors. The measurement ranges between 24 to 30 inches.

8-foot ceiling kitchen cabinets

We recommend using a 36-inch tall/upper unit with an eight-foot ceiling. The cabinet will not go all the way through, allowing you to add crown moldings. However, we recommend a 42-inch kitchen cabinet if you need more storage space.

9-foot ceiling kitchen cabinets

The 9-foot ceiling option was a recent introduction. The ceiling height increase opened the possibility of larger cabinets, such as 30, 36, and 42 inches.

The 42-inch is the most common selection among users. On the other hand, the 36-inch is an excellent option if your space is limited. We do not recommend the 30-inch for a 9-inch ceiling unless you have plans on adding a second tier.

A two or three-tier option allows you to stagger these units above your refrigerator or cooktop. It looks appealing and draws attention to your ceiling. 

10-foot ceiling kitchen cabinets

A custom-made kitchen cabinet is an excellent choice for a 10-foot ceiling. Manufacturers can take the exact measurements of your installation location for the best fit.

Three things worth considering are personal preference, budget, and ceiling height.

  • Personal preference – How do you envision your ceiling to look? Would you like units that run up, or are you more of a functional person? Would you prefer extra storage? Be aware that placing these units high makes them less accessible. You may need a step stool or ladder to access these parts.
  • Budget – How much money are you willing to spend? Adding a second row or something similar will increase your costs. Reconsider your options if you have a tight budget.
  • Ceiling height – How tall is your ceiling? Only push through if you have enough space to accommodate a ceiling cabinet. 

Standard cabinet opening for the refrigerator

The standard size is 24 x 24 x 34 inches (width x depth x height). Some refrigerators will not fit the standard dimension because they are either bigger or smaller. We recommend checking your refrigerator size before getting a cabinet. Consider at least two inches of allowance on all sides. 

12-foot ceiling kitchen cabinets

The recommendation for a 12-foot ceiling is 36-inch upper/tall units, 12-inch boxes, and crowns. However, these specifications may change depending on your kitchen’s design and floor plan. Consulting a professional is your best bet.

Base cabinet dimensions

The standard dimensions for a base cabinet are 35 to 36 inches in height, 24 inches in depth, and 12 – 48 inches in width. These may change depending on your ceiling’s height. 

Styles

The following are the most popular styles for a cabinet. Each has a unique look and feel to it.

Shaker Cabinet
  1. Shaker-Style – It has a distinctive yet timeless style. The drawers and doors have a flat surface with a recessed middle panel. It is available in different colors and materials because the simple design lets it fit any interior style.
  2. Raised Panel – It has a three-dimensional structure that fits well among several interior designs. The slightly raised center panel adds dimension to it. Traditional homes are the common application for the raised panel type.
  3. Slab Kitchen – Panel-front or flat-front are other names we use. It has one of the simplest designs among these choices, making it an excellent choice for minimalism. They are also cheap and easy to maintain. 
  4. Glass-Front – The glass-front is excellent for anyone who wants to show off their kitchen items. Most people use this style in selected parts of the kitchen only. They are difficult to clean and more sensitive, so we recommend handling them carefully.
  5. Beadboard – The beadboard adds a Scandinavian appeal to your home. s
Beadboard cabinet

  1. Inset Kitchen – The cabinet door will sit flush with its face, resulting in a clean and smooth look. It is expensive and challenging to install. 
  2. Louvered – A louvered consists of several horizontal slab layers, bringing an illusion of space. They are difficult to clean but provide great ventilation. 

FAQ

The following are the frequently asked questions.

Is it cheaper to buy cabinets or build them?

Building your cabinet is cheaper. However, we also need to consider the tools and time you will spend building it. We do not recommend making your cabinet if you do not have at least intermediate woodworking skills. Most people are better off buying than building.

What is the cheapest option for kitchen cabinets?

The following are cheap options:
– Plywood: Durable and affordable. However, we do not recommend this material in moist or humid environments.
– Wood veneer: It has a semi-natural look. You can paint, stain, or sand it without issues. 
– MDF: It incorporates other materials, such as plywood. Take note MDF is a poor or low-quality material. 
– Laminate: An affordable option if you do not mind customizations. They are resistant to scratches and dents.

Does IKEA have tall upper cabinets?

Yes, they do. However, most of their offerings are narrow, measuring 15 to 30 inches wide.