To properly measure kitchen cabinets, you’ll need to measure:
- The height, width and depth of each cabinet
- Any obstructions (windows, sinks, appliances, etc.)
- The interior of the cabinets
- Cabinet elements (hinges, pulls, toe kicks, etc.)
Getting accurate measurements is crucial whether you’re updating hardware or a bigger project like refacing or remodeling your cabinets. One wrong measurement could throw off all of your calculations, and as a result, the entire project.
But don’t worry, we’ll walk you through how to properly measure kitchen cabinets to ensure your dimensions are accurate.
Tools you’ll need:
- Tape measure
- Pencil and paper (to note the measurements)
If you’d like a free consultation to get your kitchen cabinets professionally upgraded, contact us online or call 480-641-9611. We’ll send one of our finishing pros to your home to measure your cabinets and give you a no-obligation, same-day quote.
Step #1: Height, width and depth
Use a tape measure to measure the following dimensions on the outside of your cabinets:
- Height: Measure the front of your cabinets from the floor to the top of the counter or, for wall cabinets, the top of the cabinet to the bottom. Make sure to include any toe kick, feet, or trimming in these measurements. Most cabinet heights will range from 12 to 42 inches.
- Width: Measure the front of your cabinets from side to side, starting at one end of the cabinets and measuring to where the row of cabinets ends or meets a corner. This measurement will vary widely, depending on the size of your kitchen.
- Depth: Measure the side of your cabinets, from the cabinet front to where it meets the wall. Standard cabinets are 24 inches deep.
Don’t forget to note the measurements on your piece of paper. It sometimes helps to draw a quick layout of the cabinets, so you can note various measurements, including the:
- Height of cabinet with and without countertops
- Depth of cabinets with and without doors and drawer fronts
- Cabinet interiors and any elements or obstructions (see sections below)
Step #2: Obstructions
By “obstructions,” we essentially mean anything that sits between or within your cabinets. This can be a:
- Window or door
- Appliance (oven, fridge, dishwasher, etc.)
- Range hood
Make sure to measure and note where they sit, so you don’t accidentally include them in the overall dimensions of your cabinets.
If you plan on installing new cabinets, you’ll also want to note any:
- Water pipes and drains
- Electrical outlets
- Light fixtures and switches
- Vents or HVAC equipment
- Phone or internet jacks
You could run into serious—not to mention expensive—problems if you go to install a cabinet where a water line or ventilation shaft is located.
Step #3: Interior
If you’re planning on updating the inside of the cabinets, you’ll need those measurements too. Repeat what you did in step #1 but measure the height, width and depth of the inside of your cabinet boxes, not including any of the exterior in the dimensions.
These measurements will be smaller than the exterior ones—slightly or significantly, depending on your cabinets.
Remember to also note the dimensions of the shelves if you plan on updating those.
Step #4: Elements
Cabinets have a lot of elements that need to be measured, including:
We’ll go into more details for each element.
You’ll want to measure the height (top to bottom) and width (side to side) of all cabinet doors. It helps to note how many cabinet doors you have of the same same size, although we recommend double checking dimensions just in case some doors look like the same size, but are slightly different.
If your cabinets have any decorative elements or grooving, open the door and measure the back side to get a more accurate measurement.
To measure cabinet drawers, you’ll need to measure:
- Draw fronts: Measure the height and width of the drawer fronts
- Height of drawer boxes: Measure from the top of the drawer box (the part that holds your kitchenware) to the bottom
- Width of drawer boxes: Measure across the top of the drawer box from one side to the other
- Depth of drawer boxes: Measure across the top of the drawer box from the front (where it meets the drawer front) to the back
When measuring drawer box dimensions, make sure to measure the outsides of the drawer box.
Cabinet hinges come in a wide variety of types, styles and shapes.
For the most part, how you measure a hinge depends on the type of hinge, which is usually determined by the type cabinet doors you have:
- Overlay doors: The door sits on top of the face frame and covers it fully or partially.
To measure overlay hinges (usually mounted on the back of the door so they’re concealed), measure how much of the face frame is covered by the cabinet door. You can measure this by subtracting the opening width from the door width and dividing by 2. For example, a 22-inch wide door minus a 21-inch frame opening means you’d need ½-inch hinges.
- Full inset doors: The door is flush with the frame and mounted on either the inside of the door for semi-concealed hinges—also called butt hinges, where only the barrel is exposed—or the outside of the door for fully exposed, often decorative hinges.
To measure inset cabinet hinges, measure either the thickness of the cabinet door (for butt hinges) or measure the width and height of your existing hinges (for fully exposed, surface-mounted hinges).
- Partial overlay/inset doors: Also called lipped cabinet doors, these are a cross between overlay and full inset, where the door has a lip to fit partially in the frame opening and partially on top of it.
To measure partial inset cabinet hinges, measure how much the cabinet door is set into the frame. Most partial inset cabinets today will need a ⅜-inch hinge, but older cabinets can have a ½-inch, ⅝-inch or ¾-inch inset.
Pro tip: Take an existing hinge to a home improvement store and they’ll be able to tell you what style and size you need to replace it.
Cabinet pulls or handles usually have 4 different dimensions:
- Center to center: The distance between the center of the 2 screw holes. Pull centers vary from 3” to 12” depending on the size and design of your cabinet drawers and doors.
- Diameter: On a handle, this refers to the width or thickness of the bar you pull to open the cabinet.
- Length: The distance from one end of the handle to the other. The length will be longer than the center to center dimension, but not more than a couple of inches longer.
- Projection: The distance between the cabinet door or drawer front and the part that you pull. This essentially measures how far the handle sticks out from your cabinets.
If you’re measuring in inches and need to find the dimensions in millimeters (some pulls are measured using the metric system), multiply the number in inches by 25.4.
For example, if your center-to-center distance is 3 inches:
3 x 25.4 = 76.2 millimeters
To go from millimeters to inches, divide the number by 25.4.
The inch-to-millimeter (or vice versa) conversion can apply to knobs as well.
Cabinet knobs sizes usually range from 1 inch in diameter for small cabinets to 1 ½ inches for oversized cabinets.
To measure cabinet knobs, you’ll want to get the following 3 dimensions:
- Diameter: Measure the widest part of the knob, where you’d grab it to open the drawer or door.
- Base: Measure the diameter of where the knob gets attached to the cabinet door or drawer front. This is usually smaller or the same as, but never larger than, the diameter.
- Projection: Just like with cabinet handles, this dimension measures how far the knob sticks out from the cabinet.
Need help from a professional? Get a free quote.
Getting the right cabinet measurements can be tricky, especially when you have a lot of elements to measure.
If you’re thinking of upgrading your cabinets yourself, we’ll warn you that DIY cabinet refacing (or remodeling) can quickly turn into a pricey, time-consuming project—even if you know what you’re doing.
At Cabinet Coatings, we’ve been refacing and remodeling kitchen cabinets for more than 20 years. Our cabinet experts are trained in measuring every element of cabinets. Plus, we can help you choose from a wide variety of finishes, pulls, and hardware upgrades to help you design the kitchen you’ve always wanted.
For 20 plus years chuck has been helping homeowners make decisions on how to bring new life into their kitchens. Most homeowners know what they want but don’t know how to communicate it. When chuck does the in-home consultation he draws from the client and uses his expertise to help them bring their imagination to life (achieve the look they imagine.) Chuck dubs himself a “professional mind maker upper.”