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ws450r 07-26-2010 04:13 PM

Max height for wall cabinets above counter?
Getting ready to install some new upper cabinets and wanting to get my measurements correct. I will eventually put in new lower in stock cabinets from lowes, with hardwood flooring as well (currently vinyl). I am also doing undercabinet lighting as well, but don't have that picked out yet, so not sure if I need a piece of trim or not around the edge. I am guessing I will. I am also doing an over the range microwave with a 15" cabinet above it. Here is my measurements from the sub-floor that I have in mind:

Hardwood Flooring 3/4"
Base Cabinets 34.5"
Countertop 1.5"
Trim 1"?

I'm thinking the bottom of my wall cabinets should be 55.5-56" above my current floor? Does this sound about right?

BigJim 07-26-2010 04:30 PM

In my experience 54 should be the bottom of wall cabinet if the room is 8 foot tall. Example. 96 inch tall room, 30 inch wall cabinet 12 inches from ceiling = 54 inches. We have 42 inch wall cabinets with bottom of cabinets at 54 inches from finished floor.


benjamincall 07-26-2010 05:28 PM

The answer to your question depends on how much space you want between the cabinet and the countertop. A lot of kitchen designers use 18" as their standard. We're intentionally installing cabinets with about 13.5" between the countertop and the wall cabinets. We have plenty of open countertop without cabinets overhead for my wife's mixer and that sort of thing.

Bud Cline 07-26-2010 06:11 PM

Typically the space I have seen ranges between 14" to 18", there is no "absolute must be" I'm aware of.:)

ws450r 07-26-2010 07:30 PM

The problem is my floor isn't in yet, so I'm allowing 3/4" for it on top of the normal 54". I guess if I went 55" from my current floor, I should be close enough to the 54" above the floor and 18" above the future base cabinets and countertop.

firehawkmph 07-26-2010 08:16 PM

18" is the theoretical number based on an 8' ceiling and stock sized cabinets. If you have 8' ceilings and no soffits to deal with, you have some room for adjustment. I lowered my mom's upper cabinets 1 1/2" when I built her house because she is only about 4' -10" tall. There are a lot of new undercabinet lights out in the last few years. I just put in some LED strips in the last kitchen we did. The fixtures are only 1/2" thick. They throw off nice light, with a high and low setting, and best of all, don't get hot. Not as cheap as the xenon's, but the bulbs should last a very long time. No need for light rail trim with these.
Mike Hawkins:)

ws450r 07-26-2010 09:43 PM

Here's the next wrench. I have an L shaped area where all the cabinets are going. Measured up 55" at each end. Started on the left hand side and marked everything with a level. When I got around to the right side original mark, the level mark is about 3/4" lower than the original mark. Right hand level side is 18 3/4" above current countertop and gets bigger as you go around to the left. Should I hang the upper cabinets on the level line, and shim the base cabinets up to be even. Not a major difference, but it isn't level either.

nap 07-26-2010 10:55 PM

yes, hang the uppers level and of course you would have to shim the lowers to be level. If not, the tops wouldn't match and if you could figure out how to put a counter top on there, it wouldn't be level.

you have to set your line where the floor is highest. That way you can shim up the cabinets. If you don't start at the highest poiint in the floor, the cabinets would simply be too tall at some point. Trying to fix that would be more difficult.

ws450r 07-27-2010 08:36 AM

So I should mark the level line from my original mark on the right side? If I do it this way, then I should end up about 3/4" above my original mark on the left side.

nap 07-27-2010 01:25 PM

correct. If you go the other way, you would have to trim the bases of your cabinets to match the line.

firehawkmph 07-27-2010 01:32 PM

The other thing you may want to do with the base cabinets is to get some plywood that is just shy of what you need to shim them up. Cut some strips about 3" wide and use these along the back and sides to take up most of the space. Then you can finish off with shims. At this point, the shimming will be minimal, as opposed to trying to stack shims up enough on their own.
When I start a kitchen, I set up a laser and shine a horizontal line about halfway up the wall. Then I go around the room where cabinets are going to go and find the high spot in the floor, and the low spot in the ceiling. That sets the level line where the cabinets have to be. No surprises then. I also go around and mark all the studs so I am not trying to find them as I am trying to hang cabinets.
Mike Hawkins:)

ws450r 07-27-2010 02:10 PM


That is a good idea. Thanks for all the help...everyone. I don't have much help, so trying to do everything by myself that I can. I knew these cabinets would be a problem when I started. I always had the sneaky feeling that the room would be unlevel.

nap 07-27-2010 02:14 PM


Originally Posted by ws450r (Post 476115)
I always had the sneaky feeling that the room would be unlevel.

the rarity is having one that is level. Almost all floors are imperfect.

firehawkmph 07-27-2010 02:30 PM

If you take your time in the planning and layout stage, everything should go well. One other thing, when you start hanging cabinets, you normall start out in the inside corner. Make sure this cabinet is perfectly level and plumb. If not, it will haunt you with each cabinet you hang onto it. Another thing I would recommend is a top quality level. I have a set of 6 Stabila levels, from 12-48". They are very accurate and make the job go a lot smoother. You don't need the whole set, but a 24" and a 48" would be sufficient. Good luck, and if you run into any snags, don't hesitate to holler.
Mike Hawkins:)

ws450r 07-27-2010 03:25 PM

Yeah, I have all the plans drawn out and the 1 x 2's ready to be screwed up to rest the cabinets on. Just needed to figure out height, and already knew about the corner cabinet going up first. I do have two levels. 1 4' and 1 2'. Still have to mark the studs and holes out, but that shouldn't be to tough. I'm not to fast at doing stuff anyway. Took me 3.5 weeks to get my kitchen painted and previous upper cabinets ripped out, where as some people might have done that in 2 days or less. I'm pretty meticulous about things. I know they won't be perfect, but want them to be close.

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