One of the most important aspects of kitchen design is the cabinet layout. Not only do kitchen cabinets frame the room, but the size of cabinets is essential for storing food, housing appliances, and providing ample counter space. If you are planning either a new or remodeled kitchen, you probably want to know how tall are kitchen cabinets. We’ve researched the standard heights of wall, base, and tall cabinets to get the answer for you.
Standard kitchen cabinet heights include:
- Wall Cabinets - 12, 15, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42 inches
- Base Cabinets (without countertops) - 34.5 inches
- Tall Cabinets - 84, 90, 96 inches
Get your tape measure ready, and keep reading to learn how to size up cabinets for your kitchen.
What is a Base Cabinet?
Base cabinets are the heavy lifters of kitchen cabinetry because they provide a base for the entire layout. Base cabinets installed on the floor and support countertops and sinks as well as frame (or sometimes encase) ranges, mini-fridges, and dishwashers.
Designed with cupboards and drawers, inside of the base cabinets has ample storage to accommodate heavy kitchenware, appliances, cookware, and food.
Standard height (34.5-inches) and depth (24-inches) make it simple to plan for the installation of countertops and appliances when working with base cabinets. Of course, custom-built base cabinets can alter height as needed to accommodate special needs. Widths vary (12, 18, 24, 30, 33, 36, 48 inches) to incorporate functionality into the design.
What is a Wall Cabinet?
Wall cabinets add style and function to your kitchen. Installed by being suspended from the ceiling, or affixed to wall studs, wall cabinets cannot support the weight that base cabinets can. But, they are ideal for storing dishes, cups, glasses, lightweight appliances, and food. Wall cabinets can also provide decorative features such as doors with glass inlays, display shelves, and in-cabinet lighting.
Wall cabinets offer the most diverse range of heights and are uniquely fit into place over countertops, ranges, and refrigerators. Choose to install wall cabinets either flush with the ceiling or leave a gap - more to come on this topic.
Because wall cabinets are the bulk of the kitchen’s design, they come in a wide range of widths (9-inches to 48-inches). Standard depths (12, 15, 18, 24 inches) make it easy to align wall cabinets with base cabinets.
What Height Are Tall Kitchen Cabinets?
Most kitchens have at least one tall kitchen cabinet built into the layout. Typically, these floor-to-ceiling cabinets serve as either pantry or utility storage. Use tall kitchen cabinets to frame a refrigerator or wall oven for a seamless look.
Choose from these standard heights for tall kitchen cabinets:
- 84-inch cabinets leave a 1-foot gap between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling of a standard, 8-foot room.
- 90-inch cabinets leave a 6-inch gap between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling of a standard, 8-foot room.
- 96-inch cabinets reach the ceiling of a standard, 8-foot room.
Tall kitchen cabinets can be designed as either front-opening cupboards or pull-outs, ranging between 12-inches to 24-inches deep. Deeper dimensions give the additional option to put shelving onto the cabinet door to create a supercabinet.
The width of tall kitchen cabinets will vary depending on the space available for installation and how you intend to use the cabinet. Common widths are 12-inches, 24-inches, and 36-inches.
How High Should Cabinets Be for an 8 Foot Ceiling?
Typically, either 30-inch or 36-inch standard wall cabinets are recommended for rooms with 8-foot ceilings. These cabinet heights allow for between 6-inches to 12-inches of ceiling clearance, plenty of space to allow for soffits, crown molding, exposed beams, or any trim.
If your ceiling has no trim, and you prefer the look of to-the-ceiling cabinetry, install 42-inch standard wall cabinets to be flush with the ceiling.
How Far Should Kitchen Cabinets Be From the Ceiling?
To determine the clearance between kitchen wall cabinets and the ceiling, consider:
- Style preference.
- Ceiling trim.
- Storage space.
Standard heights for wall cabinets vary so that you can get the right fit for your kitchen’s layout and final look. Shorter 12-inch, 15-inch, and 18-inch wall cabinets are typically installed over refrigerators and ranges. Install taller 30-inch, 36-inch, and 42-inch wall cabinets over countertops. Standard heights give you options to either have a gap between the cabinets and ceiling or cabinets flush with the ceiling.
Are 42 Inch Cabinets Worth It?
To-the-ceiling cabinets are stylish, but is it worth it for that continuous look? Forget about being trendy for a moment and also consider:
The gap between the wall cabinets and the ceiling usually collects dust. Make use of that space by installing 42-inch cabinets for additional storage.
You might need to extend your reach, or even use a step-stool to access items stored on those top shelves, but your fully equipped kitchen will be well organized behind streamlined cabinetry. Use 42-inch cabinets to store infrequently used items like seasonal dishes.
Installing to-the-ceiling cabinets will increase the cost of your kitchen remodel. If you prefer the look and plan to use the storage space, then the price is right for you.
If you like the look but do not need the storage, consider installing false cabinet panels to fill the gap between shorter wall cabinets and the ceiling.
Kitchen cabinets are a matter of personal preference. Weigh the pros and cons of the style you want, how you intend to use the cabinets, and your overall budget. You will be sure to get the right fit!
What is the Height of IKEA Kitchen Cabinets?
Customize your kitchen by using IKEA’s SEKTION system, but make sure to measure carefully because some of the heights are not the same as American standard cabinet heights.
IKEA’s base cabinets are 30-inches tall. Adding either legs or toe kicks, each sold separately brings the total height up to the American standard of 34.5-inches without any countertops.
The SEKTION system offers wall cabinets in heights of either 20-inches, 30-inches, or 40-inches.
Can IKEA Cabinets Go to the Ceiling?
IKEA’s tall cabinets for the SEKTION system are available in either 80-inches or 90-inches. Adding the toe kick, sold separately, increases the total height by 4.5-inches.
Do your math carefully, because these heights vary slightly from the American standards for 8-foot tall rooms. So, you will likely have a gap between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling. Consider filling the hole with either false cabinet panels of soffits if you prefer to have a to-the-ceiling look.
How Can I Make My Base Cabinets Taller?
There are several ways that you can raise the height of kitchen base cabinets. Check out these great options:
Legs & Toe Kicks
Installing legs under freestanding cabinets can achieve your desired height. Legs should be sturdy and durable because the base cabinets need to support the weight of heavy countertops, sinks, and appliances. Using toe kicks to hide the legs will give a professionally finished look to this cabinet modification.
Adding a countertop increases the total height of base cabinets. Depending on whether or not you use an underlay (and the thickness of the underlay), countertops can add between 1/2-inch to 5-inches to the total height of base cabinets.
Installing base cabinets atop flooring increases the height slightly. Keep this in mind, especially for aligning countertops with a range because if the cabinets are installed on flooring, but the range is installed on a substrate (or vice- versa), the heights may differ.
Check out our blog, “Do You Tile Under Kitchen Cabinets?” for all the details to get your cabinet installation started.
Now that you know the heights available for kitchen cabinets, read our blog post to make sure the appliances are properly aligned, “How Far Should Oven Stick Out From Cabinets?”