We’ve all dreamt of that perfect kitchen. Picking out all of the best appliances, choosing the countertops, and coordinating the paint with the tiles is extremely exciting. But possibly one of the most important things to consider when designing a kitchen is the size of your countertops.

There are a few rules and guidelines on how you should do it and what to look for. No matter if you’re buying a stock kitchen or designing one from scratch, here’s what you need to know about kitchen counter depth and size guides.

Kitchen Counter Depth

If you want a comfortable and functional kitchen, the depth of your countertops is key. Stock kitchens tend to have pretty standard sizes that fit most average-height people. With these sizes, everyone can reach cabinets without much hassle.

The most important thing to consider when looking at kitchen counter depth is the countertop overhang. Even though the average kitchen counter depth is around 24 inches, there’s always room for customization.

Countertops and Base Cabinets

Most often, standard base or lower cabinets are about 24 inches deep. Typically, with stock kitchens, your countertops will overhang the base cabinets by 3/4 of an inch. They should extend beyond the cabinet drawers and drawer fronts.

The overhang in your kitchen will prevent crumbs from falling into your drawers and spills will be easier to clean. But if you have a kitchen island or a bar, the overhang will need to be bigger to create knee space for people sitting there. In fact, for you to be comfortable while sitting at your island, the overhang should be at least 15 inches long.

Average Sizes

Depending on how big your kitchen is, base cabinets will often follow a few sizes. For example, most cabinets are 34.5 inches high when they don’t have counters. But once you add a countertop, the height will be 35–36 inches. Also, typically, they’ll be 25–26 inches deep.

Even though height and depth are pretty much the same for most kitchens, base cabinets mostly differ in their width. You can get anything ranging from 12 to 48 inches.

I wouldn’t recommend going under or over these measurements unless you’re working with an extremely unique space. If you go too small, you won’t have enough space to work on. On the other hand, if the cabinets are too big, it can be difficult to fit your countertops or appliances.

Countertops and Backsplash

Even though most homeowners and designers leave the backsplash as an afterthought, it can affect the comfort of your kitchen. The most important thing when designing a backsplash is to take into account the height of the owners or chefs.

I recommend doing a 17-inch backsplash because that seems to work for most average-height homeowners. But again, this is one area of your kitchen that you can fully customize, no matter if you’re doing stock or custom. So, experiment with different heights to see which ones work best for you and your countertops.

Countertops and Wall Cabinets

Your wall cabinets are the stars of your kitchen, and how you fit them in is key. If you want a timeless look, you can get them in white. But if you prefer something more modern, dark gray cabinets and in-cabinet lighting is the way to go.

Since they’re just above eye level, they are the first thing people notice when they walk into your kitchen. And the most important thing when installing them is to take into account your backsplash and your countertops.

Average Sizes

Since your wall cabinets need to fit tightly between the ceiling and countertops, they usually have a limited height. In fact, most often they come in one of these three heights: 12, 36, and 48 inches.

The standard width of a wall cabinet shouldn’t be more than 36 inches. Even though they can be as narrow as 12 or 15 inches, most often, they’re 30 inches wide. One thing to keep in mind when installing wall cabinets is that they should be deeper than your countertops. So, if your countertops are 30 inches, make sure you find cabinets that are exactly the same.

Countertops and Kitchen Islands

Even though most kitchen islands have the same height, their depth can vary slightly. For example, they are usually around 36 inches high to accommodate most users.

Of course, if you’re building kitchen islands from scratch, you can customize them and make them fit your needs. If you don’t want to include a breakfast bar, the countertops need to be the same as your base cabinets, between 24 and 27 inches.

But if you do want a breakfast bar, it needs to be at least 13.5 inches tall. Also, since you’ll need to add an extra 1.5 inches for the overhang, your countertops will come around to 15 inches.

ADA Guidelines on Kitchen Counter Depth

Even though the standard countertop height is around 36 inches, if you’re building a custom kitchen, you can make some changes. Nowadays, all stock kitchen countertops for commercial use need to be in compliance with the ADA guidelines. They state that a kitchen countertop needs to be 28–34 inches high. It also needs to be deep enough to accommodate a 27-inch knee space.

If you’re installing your countertops in a commercial building, they need to be accessible to everyone. So, make sure that your counters aren’t over 36 inches above the ground. Also, they shouldn’t be over 16 inches deep, because anything beyond that is considered dead space for wheelchair users.

Final Thoughts

Even though the average kitchen counter depth is 24 inches, it can vary from one manufacturer to the next. But if you’re doing a custom kitchen, you can adjust countertops and cabinets any way you like.

The two most important things to consider are the overhang and the backsplash. If you want to make your kitchen easy to clean, always leave room for a 1.5-inch overhang.

Also, before your contractor comes to install the kitchen cabinets and countertops, make sure you’ve measured the space yourself. That’s the only way to know that you can comfortably reach everything.

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