Whether you’re remodeling your kitchen or questioning the layout of your current kitchen, knowing where your upper cabinets should sit in regards to the counter is essential. Having upper cabinets that are too low or too high can ruin the functionality of the kitchen. So, how high should upper cabinets be?

Upper cabinets should be at least 18 inches high above the counter. This is the optimal space to comfortably work on the countertop and allow easy access to items in the cabinets. However, the height of the walls or the room’s design can change the amount of optimal space.

The rest of this article will discuss more on the standard distance between upper and lower cabinets, the average height for kitchen cabinets, and how to install upper kitchen cabinets yourself.

Why Is There a Standard Distance Between Upper and Lower Cabinets?

When designing your home, you might not realize that there are standards for most things. While there might not be a “code” for cabinet height, there is a standard that most people have. However, this depends on the layout of the kitchen and the height of the walls.

There is a standard distance of 18 inches between the upper and lower cabinets because not only does it give the optimal amount of space, but cabinet manufacturers take the standard into account when designing the cabinets. Therefore, following the average is a good idea.

However, not everyone will want to go by the standard, especially if your counters are higher or lower than the average counters. If this is the case, there are custom cabinets available at various cabinet manufacturers that offer different-sized cabinets that will still line up with your appliances.

What Is the Normal Height for Upper Kitchen Cabinets?

Upper kitchen cabinets have standard sizes, just like everything else. Cabinet manufacturers usually follow the standard but offer different sizes depending on preference when it comes to height.

The standard height for upper kitchen cabinets is 30 to 42 inches. However, in kitchens with exceptionally high walls or custom-made lower cabinets, the height can differ. The height of the upper kitchen cabinets usually depends on the height of the lower cabinets.

Along with a standard 30-42 inches in height, upper cabinets typically have a depth of 12-24 inches and a width of 9-36 inches.

Can I Install Upper Cabinets Myself?

Installing upper cabinets yourself is an excellent way to save money, as long as you know what you’re doing.

You can install upper cabinets yourself, as long as you have the suitable materials and knowledge to do so. Installing cabinets will require you to measure your kitchen walls thoroughly to ensure you hang them correctly. Having appropriate materials, such as a drill and screws, is also necessary.

Below, I’ll go over the steps to hang upper cabinets yourself and some tools that can come in handy and make the job easier.

Measure Your Walls

Before doing anything, including ordering cabinets, you need to measure your walls. If you have standard lower cabinets, measuring 54 inches vertically from the ground will show you where the bottom of your upper cabinets should sit. Of course, this depends on if you want the standard 18 inches of space between the cabinets.

What To Do if You Have High Walls

If you have higher walls than average, you might want to consider installing your upper cabinets differently. Having high walls but installing cabinets at the standard height and distance can make the space feel confined and cramped.

You’ll want to place the cabinets higher on tall walls to make the area appear more open. Therefore, ordering larger cabinets might be the best option for higher walls.

Measure at Least 18 Inches From the Countertop

Ensure that your upper cabinets are at least 18 inches from the cabinets. As this is the standard, it’s recommended not to have less than 18 inches unless it’s absolutely necessary. Once you’ve measured and found your preference, mark where the case of the cabinets will be.

Having too much or too little space between the cabinets can be frustrating when trying to cook or get something out of the cabinets. So, ensure the amount of space you choose is right for you.

Mark the Top Base of the Cabinets

After accurately measuring, you’ll want to mark the top base of the cabinets. Marking where the cabinets go will give you a better idea when you go to hang them. It’ll also give you an idea of where the cabinets will be so you can decide if you like the placement or if you’d rather them be higher or lower.

If marking the wall with a pencil or marker isn’t something you want to do, I suggest using tape to mark the wall.

Find the Studs

Finding the studs is essential to hang upper cabinets. Studs provide a more substantial anchor when hanging things on the wall. Cabinets are heavy, so you’ll want to make sure you locate the studs. While it’s possible to find the studs on your own, using a stud finder makes it a lot easier.

This Stud Finder Wall Scanner on Amazon is an excellent way to detect studs in your walls. This stud finder is accurate, quick, and saves you time when trying to find studs.

Set Up a Ledger

While setting up a ledger isn’t necessary, some people choose to do it to make the whole process easier. A ledger will help you support the cabinets while you screw them in the wall. This is especially helpful if you’re working on your own.

Lowe’s suggests setting up a 1 inch by 4-inch ledger at the 54-inch line on the wall (that is, if you plan on using the standard 18 inches distance between cabinets).

If you are working on your own and don’t want to use a ledger, I suggest buying a support pole. The Xinqiao Support Pole can come in handy for multiple other projects as well and is extremely durable, with a weight capacity of 154 lb.

Start With the Corner Cabinets

Once you have everything set up, I recommend starting with corner cabinets (if you have corner cabinets). Starting at the corner makes it easier to install the rest. Saving the corner cabinets for last isn’t a good idea because you might not be able to fit it between the others. Always install the cabinets in order so that you don’t face this problem.

Final Thoughts

Upper cabinets need to be installed far enough up for you to use the counter, but not so far that you can’t reach anything. Therefore, most people use the standard 18-inch distance between the upper cabinets and lower cabinets.

However, some people have higher walls, and with that, you’ll want higher cabinets. Cabinet manufacturers make different sizes for this reason, but some people have cabinets custom-made.

While you can hang your own cabinets, you want to ensure you have the correct measurements and know how much space you want between them first.

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