Space Requirements Between Wall Mount Cabinet & Countertop

Sara Melone

If you are planning a kitchen remodeling or construction project, you may wonder what guidelines you should follow to create a standard, functional kitchen.

Although you may choose to change the installation requirements to suit your own needs and style preferences, most builders and cabinet installers follow a few rules to create a cohesive kitchen design between upper and lower cabinets.

Standard Cabinets

Most standard wall-mount cabinets are installed with the bottom of the wall cabinet 54 inches above the floor. This measurement assumes the finished floor has been installed. Additional measurements should be taken into account if you are in the planning stages and an additional floor covering will be put in place. Standard base cabinets are 36 inches high. Subtracting the 36 inches of the base cabinet from the 54 inches between the floor and the upper cabinet leaves 18 inches, which is the standard space between a countertop and the bottom of the wall cabinets. You can alter the measurements to account for installation of a countertop surface such as a granite top.

Custom Space Requirements

A standard space of 18 inches between the countertop and the bottom of the wall cabinet allows the space needed for most standard-sized appliances such as coffee makers, toaster ovens and microwaves. Countertop-style convection ovens, toaster ovens or similar appliances may need additional space for venting hot air in order to prevent heat damage to the upper cabinets, and you must plan accordingly. If you plan to install a countertop appliance that emits heat, check with manufacturers' instructions and your local building code to make sure you will meet the space requirements.

Custom Cabinets

Some custom kitchen designs call for a necessary variance in the space between the wall cabinet and countertop. Compact-sized kitchens in small apartments or motor homes may have as little as 12 inches of space between the upper cabinet and the countertop, particularly in areas where a cooktop is not utilized. In addition, some custom kitchen designs call for wall cabinets with lengths extending all the way to the countertop surface. These wall cabinets are designed as appliance garages or spice racks, and they typically are integrated seamlessly into the countertop surface.