Distance Between Countertop and Upper Cabinets

The amount of space between a kitchen countertop and the wall cabinets is both a safety issue and a functional issue. You want your wall cabinets to be low enough that they are easy to access but high enough that they don’t get in the way when you’re chopping on the countertops.

Wall cabinets also need to be a certain distance from the stovetop or oven, because if they are too close this can present a fire hazard. Here, we look at the standard distance between countertops and upper cabinets in a kitchen and explore what factors can affect this distance.

The standard distance between a kitchen counter and the upper cabinets is 18 inches or 46cm. This space will work in most kitchens for most people, but there is some tolerance. You might find in some scenarios that 18 inches is not ideal, in which case, a distance of between 15 inches and 20 inches will be acceptable.

Standard distance between countertop and upper cabinet

If you install kitchen wall cabinets any lower than 15 inches from the countertop, you will find that there isn’t enough space to use typical countertop appliances, such as blenders or toasters, and the overall look of the kitchen will feel unbalanced.

If you install the kitchen cabinets too high on the wall, at a distance greater than 20 inches from the countertop, the appearance of the kitchen will look odd, and you’ll find that you can’t access the items on the uppermost shelves.

Standard Wall Cabinet Height

Standard Wall Cabinet Height

Kitchen wall cabinets should be a distance of 4 feet and 6 inches from floor level. This is equal to 54 inches, or 137cm. When used with standard-size base cabinets, this will mean that there is a distance of around 18 inches or 46cm between the countertops and the point where the wall cabinets begin.

There are some factors that can impact the height of wall cabinets so 18 inches won’t always be possible. In these cases, a distance of between 15 inches and 20 inches will work. In metric sizing, this would be a distance of between 38cm and 50cm from the surface of the countertop to the bottom of the wall cabinets.

Lower wall cabinets

There will be some circumstances where it will be necessary to install kitchen wall cabinets lower on the wall than is standard. This commonly occurs in kitchens designed to be more accessible for the elderly or disabled people. You might also prefer to have your wall cabinets installed slightly lower down if you aren’t tall enough to reach into the high upper cabinets.

Installing the cabinets just a few inches lower down on the wall can make the cabinet much more easily accessible for some people, therefore making it more functional and also safer to use. A cabinet lower down on the wall will be preferable to over-extending yourself to reach up to high cabinets.

The lowest recommended distance between the bottom of a wall cabinet and the countertop is 15 inches. If it is any lower than this, you may struggle to use your countertop space effectively.

Higher wall cabinets

Although the standard distance between wall cabinets and countertops is 18 inches, you can increase this to up to 20 inches in some scenarios. If you are taller than average, you might prefer to have wall cabinets slightly higher up on the wall so that you can access the items contained in the cabinet more easily.

If you have tall ceilings, higher cabinets can also make more use of the space It can also be useful to install wall cabinets slightly higher on the wall if you have tall appliances you want to keep on the kitchen countertop, such as a tall blender, or a cake mixer.

Be sure not to install the cabinets any higher than 20 inches from the countertop, as this can make the kitchen look out of balance. It could also make the kitchen difficult to access for other users, for example when you sell your home in the future.

Wall cabinets over appliances

If your wall cabinets are being installed over the top of cooking appliances such as a gas or electric stove, they will need to be positioned higher up on the wall. The minimum distance that is required between an electric stove and the wall cabinet overhead is 30 inches.

This ensures that there is adequate space to cook on the stove and also ensures that the bottom of the wall cabinets doesn’t get hot enough to catch fire or melt. For gas stoves that use open flames, the distance needs to be even greater. When installing wall cabinets over a gas stove, allow a distance of at least 36 inches.

Cabinet height from floor

The standard distance from the floor to the bottom of a wall cabinet is 4 feet and 6 inches. However, this can be affected by a number of factors. For example, if you install the wall cabinets lower on the wall than the standard 18 inches, then the overall distance from the floor to the wall cabinets will be less.

The height of the countertop itself is also going to affect the measurement from the floor to the bottom of the wall cabinets. If the countertop is thicker than usual, and you want to maintain an 18-inch distance between the counter and the wall cabinets, then the distance from the floor to the wall cabinets will be greater. Backsplash height can also affect the height that the wall cabinets are installed.

The standard backsplash height is 18 inches, which means the backsplash covers the entire wall surface between the countertop and the bottom of the cabinets.

If you choose a non-standard backsplash that is taller than 18 inches, then you’re going to need to increase the distance between the countertop and the cabinets to allow space to install it. Likewise, if you choose a lower backsplash, then you might want to install the wall cabinets slightly lower down for a more seamless look.