Our Guide to Upper Kitchen Cabinet Dimensions

The primary purpose of upper kitchen cabinets is to store food items and kitchen supplies. Unlike base and tall cabinets, filler cabinets offer more diversity in size. Knowing the standard sizes for your upper kitchen cabinets, including the average upper cabinet height and the standard depth, is essential to ensure full functionality. 

Depending on the shape and size of your kitchen, if you get new kitchen cabinets, you might have to pay more for custom cabinetry with the help of an interior designer, to consider your floor plan, ideal height, and other things like a blind corner, range hood, or other small appliances like microwave ovens. You may have an open space but you may encounter dead space and design plans should also keep in mind various heights and easy access range for the average person.

You may also be lucky and not require a custom plan. If so, you might be able to get away with standard cabinets that align to standard microwave sizes and a standard countertop. Some kitchens, due to the size, can also benefit from utility cabinets which can store extra items that are much heavier. These play a similar role to the kitchen pantry. These are basic cabinets with the front of the cabinet designed for simple drawer fronts. Some have an open cabinet frame that can support a microwave oven if you have limited kitchen counter space.

There are corner base cabinets that are designed for heavier storage and least used applications like a Lazy Susan cabinet. These are normally found on kitchen countertops that have suitable countertop height and countertop overhang. Thankfully, there are many types of kitchen cabinets to choose from.

Kitchen wall cabinets have a width that comes in 3-inch increments ranging from 9 to 36 inches for wall cabinets. The standard base cabinet depth is about 24 inches. For context, the standard kitchen cabinet height is 34.5 inches and the bottom part of the cabinet with a toekick portion is about 4.5″ inches.

This short guide will give you a quick rundown of the dimensions of kitchen cabinets, their pros and cons, and kitchen designer essentials you need to know and follow. 

Table of Contents

What are Upper Kitchen Cabinets?

Upper kitchen cabinets do not touch the ground and are available in different sizes. These cabinets also don’t have the same heavy-duty structure as base kitchen cabinets because they don’t need to support any countertop. 

However, it is still essential for these cabinets to support the weight of glasses, plates, and other cutlery pieces you need to store. These cabinet types must have a proper mounting for the average wall. Upper cabinets are mounted on wall studs with screws, making them less durable than base cabinets.

What are the Pros and Cons of Upper Kitchen Cabinets?

The standard upper kitchen cabinets with double doors or a single door can provide lots of storage space with a composed and clean appearance. Cabinet styles and hardware, including knobs and pulls, can adapt to traditional or minimal tastes, and this makes the top of your wall cabinets a great choice if you want your kitchen to have a more cohesive and specific look and fee. 

Upper cabinets can hide those disorganized dishes and clutter that you probably didn’t have any time to arrange. You will enjoy a tidy and clean look in your kitchen, as upper cabinets can help tuck away things at the back of the cabinet and prevent them from crowding your countertops. 

Unfortunately, upper cabinets are not without flaws as they can also take up lots of space, making small kitchens feel darker, smaller, and more overcrowded. 

Upper cabinets, particularly those that reach ceiling height, are more expensive in general as well compared to wall finishes, shelves, a toe kick and corner cabinet, and other standard kitchen cabinets. 

Also, unless you opt for custom cabinets, upper cabinets tend to express less of your unique personality than other options like kitchen base cabinets. 

Standard Dimensions for Upper Kitchen Cabinets

For proper installation, make sure that you plan your cabinets well and install them 54 inches from the floor to the bottom of the wall cabinets. It will leave a height of 18 inches if you subtract the 36 inches height of the base cabinet with the countertop included, as this is the standard height for the backsplash. 

Standard Depth for Upper Cabinets

Standard wall cabinets often have a depth of 12 inches, although you can make it up to 24 inches if you prefer deeper cabinets. Upper cabinets should never go beyond the depth of the base or lower cabinets. 

Standard Base Cabinet Height for Upper Cabinets

When it comes to upper kitchen cabinet dimensions, the standard measurements for height include 30 inches, 36 inches, and 42 inches. Upper cabinets that follow the standard cabinet height can fit between the ceiling and the base cabinets. 

Tall kitchen cabinets measuring 30 inches will top align at the height of 84 inches. Pantry cabinets with a height of 36 inches will top align at 90 inches, while 42 inches high cabinets will top align at 96 inches. 

Standard Widths for Upper Cabinets

The standard upper cabinets will vary in multiples of threes, from 12 inches to 36 inches. You can also choose ready to assemble and stock cabinets with widths ranging from 5 inches to 9 inches in certain styles. The width of upper cabinets can differ to make room for double or single doors.

Other Important Considerations for Upper Cabinet Dimensions?

When it comes to standard kitchen cabinet sizes, you must consider any crown molding on top of the kitchen cabinets. If the ceiling of your kitchen measures 9 feet, it is best to use the largest of the standard size upper cabinets with a height of 42 inches. However, if you use a 42-inch cabinet in your 8-foot ceiling, no room will be left for the crown molding. 

In this case, you can opt for a small height crown molding then drop the cabinets at 1 ½ to 2 inches. Just remember, though, that this will compromise the backsplash height. 

If your kitchen ceiling measures 8 feet and you want to have the crown molding finishes, you should use upper cabinets 36 inches high. Take note that the top of cabinets measuring 36 inches align at the height of 90 inches. For this, you can use stacked molding and other atypical or traditional models to make up for the extra space of 6 inches. 

If your kitchen ceiling measures 8 feet with a remaining soffit height of 12 inches, or if your kitchen has an 8-foot ceiling and you want to ensure that the cabinets don’t get to the ceiling, you can use upper cabinets that are 36 inches high.

As mentioned earlier, the standard depth for cabinets is 12 inches, while you can use a deep cabinet measuring 24 inches over your refrigerator to ensure more manageable and more convenient access. 

If you want to design a kitchen with staggered heights by making the cabinets taller, it would also be great to make them deeper by another 3 inches. 

To determine the proper height for upper cabinets on top of a range, you might want to compare the measurement with the rest of the wall cabinets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Can Help you Measure your Kitchen Cabinets?

There are custom cabinet makers who provide design services for free. After you get the measurements, all you have to do is send them to the manufacturers, and they can then come up with a plan for interior dimensions, different heights, the type of cabinets, and base cabinet widths. Kitchen cabinetry requires professional help to ensure they are installed properly at the right angle.

The minimum distance between kitchen cabinets is 42 inches if your kitchen has enough room for a single cook. If more than one person can cook, this increases to 48 inches. The standard distance from the top of the kitchen counter space to the bottom edge of the upper cabinets is 18 inches.

Can you Modify the Depth of Kitchen Cabinets?

You can trim down the depths of kitchen cabinets to make room for specific dimensions or narrow walkways. You would also have to cut down the top, sides, the bottom of the cabinet, as well as the shelf. 

What is the Preferred Depth for Upper Cabinets?

The standard depth of upper cabinets is 12 inches that can go to a depth of 24 inches over the refrigerator to offer easier access. For a staggering height cabinet appearance, taller cabinets need to be 3 to 15 inches deeper. 

It will accommodate crown moldings of shorter-height cabinets to have a nice finish into the cabinet’s sides without blocking the opening of the taller cabinet doors. 

How to Know if You have Non-standard Appliances?

It is very rare for kitchen appliances to default away from the base cabinet sizes.

There are only two exceptions for these, the first being the appliances made especially for smaller kitchens. The second exception is those extravagant appliances required in high-end kitchens. Several home improvement retailers will have various stock options for you to consider.

What Upper Cabinets Should You Consider?

The upper cabinets you should get will depend on your kitchen’s ceiling height. Kitchens with a height of 8 feet and soffit of 12 inches will need upper cabinets that are 30 inches high. An 8-foot high kitchen with enough space for crown molding needs cabinets that are 36 inches high, and 42-inch upper cabinets are most suitable for kitchens 8 feet or taller. 

Why Should you Measure your Kitchen?

Getting the accurate measurement of your kitchen is a critical step to help you figure out the sizes of cabinets you will need.

Why Should you Measure your Kitchen Cabinets?

A functional kitchen design will only be possible if you take accurate measurements of your kitchen cabinets. 

What is the Standard Distance between the Ceiling and the (upper) Top of the Cabinet?

A ceiling measuring 8 feet with a soffit of 12 inches will need upper cabinets of 30 inches. An 8-foot kitchen ceiling with crown molding often uses 36-inch cabinets. You will need cabinets measuring 42 inches if you have an 8-foot ceiling.

What are the Standard Sizes of Kitchen Cabinet Doors?

The heights of kitchen cabinet doors often range from 24 to 30 inches. If there is a drawer in your base cabinet, the door height under the drawer is 24 inches, and the door is usually 30 inches tall for full-height base cabinets that only include a door. 

What are the Standard Depths of Kitchen Cabinets?

A 24-inch depth is considered the standard for full-height base cabinets. For a kitchen island and applications wherein obstacles on the wall don’t allow the use of full cabinet depth options, base cabinets are commonly reduced in intervals of 3 inches down to a depth of 12 inches as needed. 

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