The Complete Guide on How to Measure Kitchen Cabinets

The Complete Guide on How to Measure Kitchen Cabinets

Before you come up with a plan for remodeling your kitchen, it's important to fully understand your current kitchen layout. You will need to measure all the dimensions of your kitchen very carefully before ordering your RTA cabinets and other necessary parts. 

If you order the wrong sizes due to inaccurate measurements, your kitchen remodel isn't going to proceed very smoothly. But don't worry! Measuring cabinets is a straightforward process that requires just a few steps that we mapped out below. 

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Step 1: Take Pictures

Use your smartphone or a camera to take pictures of your kitchen. If you're hiring an interior decorator or designer, take pictures from different angles and perspectives to give your designer a good look at your kitchen. To give your designer a better idea of the scale, take a standard 12-inch ruler and place it in the kitchen. Move it around, so it shows up clearly somewhere in each picture. Don't skip this step even if you're the designer and know what your current kitchen looks like. Looking carefully at pictures of your current layout will assist you in coming up with a good, functional design for your new kitchen.

Step 2: Draw Diagrams

Your next step is to draw rough diagrams of your kitchen. You can do this on lined graph paper or, if you prefer, on a graphics computer program. Draw an overall diagram from the perspective of someone looking down from above into your kitchen. Mark where the doors, windows, appliances, sink, counters, kitchen islands and existing cabinets are. Next, draw a diagram of each wall from the perspective of someone standing on the floor and looking at the wall. Label each wall diagram such that the designer (or you) can easily move from the overall diagram to the correct wall diagram.

gather your measuring tools

Step 3: Gather Your Measuring Tools

You will need to measure all the distances on your diagrams to ensure the diagrams are accurate. First, assemble your tools. You will need a pencil and some paper to write down each measurement. You may need a calculator, a ladder and a step stool as well. You will also need tools to take the measurements with.

You can measure your kitchen with a standard tape measure. However, to measure everything accurately, you will need a ladder or a step stool, and you should measure and re-measure each dimension several times to establish accuracy. Climbing up and down ladders can be dangerous. Laser measuring tools are relatively inexpensive and will improve the accuracy of your measurements. They even allow you to take most or all of your kitchen measurements from the safety of the floor.

Consider using a level and a straight edge while making your measurements. Check all the surfaces to confirm that they are level. Also, check the corners to make sure that they are actually square. Houses, particularly older houses, tend to settle unevenly over time. Before measuring, check that the floor and ceiling are level. If not, you will have to measure the distance between the surface and the ceiling at several locations for your new cabinets to properly fit.

Similarly, if corners are no longer at right angles, you will need to measure at several different locations for accuracy. Significantly un-level surfaces and un-square corners will alert you to the possibility of needing additional materials to complete the installation or the need to undertake additional work to verify that your new cabinets are as level and square as possible.

measuring kitchen cabinets step by step

Step 4: Learn How To Measure Each Part Properly

Here are some of the rules to follow for taking correct measurements:

  • Measure the exact width, height and depth of all appliances. Do the same for kitchen islands, sinks and countertops.
  • Measure the width and length of walking spaces around any existing kitchen islands.
  • Find and note the center point of each existing appliance.
  • Measure up to the outer trim when determining the placement of doors and windows.
  • Measure the outer trim dimensions, not the size of the window or door itself, when determining the sizes of doors and windows.
  • Measure the overall floor-to-ceiling height of the room.
  • Measure the distance between the top of each existing feature to the ceiling.
  • Mark the exact location of electric outlets, gas lines, oven hookups, vents and plumbing fixtures.
  • Mark the exact location of overhead lights.

Be sure to measure methodically. Start at one corner and work your way slowly around the room clockwise or counter-clockwise. You'll want to round measurements to the nearest 1/16th of an inch. To ensure accuracy, check each measurement at least twice.

kitchen wooden counter tops

Step 5: Consider the Difference Between Cabinet Replacement and a Complete Redesign

Before getting started on the actual measurements, think about the difference between simply replacing the existing cabinets with similar but updated cabinets and completely redesigning your kitchen. If you are just replacing your cabinets, you should focus on measuring the existing cabinets precisely in every dimension to confirm that your new cabinets fit properly.

If you are looking at a complete redesign, your diagrams of the existing dimensions and layout of your kitchen are vital. You need to make sure they are as exact as possible. If the measurements listed on your diagrams are inaccurate, your new kitchen plan will be inaccurate as well. The wrong RTA cabinets will be ordered, and the remodel will have problems.

In a worst-case scenario, you may be left with a nonfunctioning kitchen as you wait for your replacement stained cabinets to get delivered. If the measurements were just a bit off, you might end up with a drawer that can't be fully opened or a cabinet that isn't quite level. While this may seem minor, drawers and doors that won't close can be irritating. Plus, your results will not resemble the kitchen of your dreams.

After you complete the diagram of your kitchen redesign, it is not a bad idea to re-measure your kitchen to know that the new features will fit properly into the places they are supposed to go. You should then repeat the measurements as a final check before ordering your cabinets.

gather your measuring tools

Step 6: Think About Efficiency

Before you start to measure, think about how a well-designed kitchen is laid out. You may have been planning to merely replace your cabinets, but after measuring, you may decide to opt for a full redesign. An efficient, working kitchen has the following features:

  • Lights: All major working surfaces need to be well-illuminated.
  • Electric outlets: Most areas require by law an electric outlet for every two feet of kitchen countertop space. Your local codes may differ. Be sure to check.
  • Base cabinets: Standard base cabinets are 36 inches high.
  • Upper cabinets: Standard upper cabinets are 18 inches above the surface and are 32 to 42 inches high.
  • Cabinet location: Utensils that are used frequently need to be stored near where they are used.
  • Cabinet height: Cabinets that are too high to see into or access without a ladder are essentially non-functional.
  • Work triangle: Cooks constantly move between the refrigerator, the cooktop and the major preparation countertop area. This is called the work triangle, and the sum of the three distances should be less than 26 feet.
  • Work aisles: The aisles between the kitchen island and the other features should be at least 42 inches wide.
  • Landing areas: There should be working countertop spaces next to the refrigerator and oven. There should be working countertop spaces on both sides of the sink and both sides of the cooktop.

Step 7: Double Check for Accuracy

Now that you have performed the necessary measurements, it's time to begin the design process in order to lay out your cabinets. If you need help with this we are happy to help you out with our FREE Professional Kitchen Design.  We will help you to take these basic measurements and turn them into the design (and kitchen) of your dreams!  

As you go through the design process, it will be very important to double check your measurements against the layout.  Make adjustments to the measurements or the layout as needed until you have the exact kitchen layout you desire that matches the true measurements of your kitchen. The installation process will go smoothly if you have taken and double checked the measurements methodically. Before finalizing your order of cabinets, remember to check your measurements, diagrams and pictures at least twice. If you're unsure about your accuracy, consider waiting a day or two before re-checking the measurements again. Once you see the beautiful final result, all that hard work will be worth it.

kitchen with white blue cabinets

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In Summary

The kitchen is the heart of any home. A well-designed, efficient kitchen that is stylish and pleasing to look at can improve any home. While a complete kitchen redesign may be necessary, in many cases, simply updating the kitchen cabinets is enough to ensure the kitchen looks good and functions well. 

You can get started by taking a look at our excellent selection of wholesale cabinets. Here at WC Supply, we carry all of the trendy and classic styles of kitchen cabinets, including our very popular line of painted cabinets. You will be able to find exactly what you are looking for in our collection of well-designed and stylish cabinets.


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