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Accurate measurements save time and money

I strongly recommend getting a professional measurement done! Measuring your kitchen for cabinets the right way saves you time, money and grief. Errors in measuring your kitchen for cabinets will cause delays- reordering cabinets that fit and stopping the project to wait for them- and cost you- restocking fee on the wrong sized cabinets, time =$$…

If you have a designer, talk to her or your contractor about getting a measurement done.

Some things before you start measuring for kitchen cabinets-

  • You are measuring your existing space, not what you want!
  • If you plan to go into another room, you’ll need those measurements too and the thickness of any walls coming down.
  • In the USA measure in inches not feet. In centimeters, not meters for the rest of you.
  • Use metal measuring tapes, they’re easier to use and don’t get stretched out like plastic or cloth.
  • For walls length, ceiling height, doors, and windows round down to the nearest 1/8 inch. No lower- don’t bother to go to a 1/16th of an inch, it’s unnecessary. This is what fillers and molding are for -to help adapt to differences in dimensions.
  • On doors, windows and trimmed openings include the molding to be used. Example- the window maybe 30″ wide and 36″ tall, but you want to use a 3″ molding around it so add that to each side making the window 36″ wide and 42″ tall.
  • For appliances round up to the nearest inch. Your fridge maybe 35.75″ wide and 69.5″ tall, but you need to be able to get it in and out of the opening.
  • Use graph paper to help you see the proportions, but the true measurements are more important than a to-scale drawing. Write down your measurements! Don’t rely on your beautiful to-scale drawing! It will just have to be converted back to measurements and that is another opportunity to screw something up. You can always download graph paper if you don’t have any.
  • Take pictures of everything! From every possible angle. because you’ll have missed something, guaranteed.
"measure once, cuss twice" sign from

Let’s get started measuring your kitchen

  1. Locate your doors and windows– Measure from the end of the wall, whether it’s a corner or the transition point to another room to the window or door molding. Not the window or door itself, the outside of the molding. If you know you want a chunkier molding make a note of that. If a doorway doesn’t have trim and you don’t plan to add any, go right to the opening.
  2. Now measure the doors and windows themselves– You want the width of each (even if they look exactly alike) including trim, height including trim, distance from the floor, from floor to top of window or door including trim, and width of the window sill.
  3. Locate outlets and switches– Measure to the center of the wall plate from the end of the wall and to the center from the floor (not countertop- you may have lower or higher counters than the current standard)
  4. Locate water and utilities– Mark your centerline of the sink, where your water lines come out whether wall or floor, gas lines, and hvac vents or radiators.
  5. 220 volt outlets– If you have an electric stove, wall oven, cooktop, washer, or dryer you may have a 220 volt plug. It will look different than a standard 110 outlet. It’s chunkier and looks like a cartoon face.
  6. Cooking vents- If there is an existing hood, microwave hood, or just a fan in the wall measure it. And if it doesn’t vent out make note of that, please.
  7. The doorways that cabinets, appliances, and all the other materials have to come through– If you plan on a 36″ corner cabinet and your doorways are only 33″ wide, how are you getting the d@#n thing in? Likewise with refrigerators.

How to measure for the floorplan

The floorplan is the aerial view of the space. It gives an overview of the room showing wall lengths, utility placement, windows, doors, outlets, etc.

Again, exact measurements are more important than drawing to scale. You can always redraw to clean it up.

  • Measure the width of the wall– in two places, about 6″ from the floor and 6″ from the ceiling. Use the smallest dimensions, you can note the difference though. Expect the lengths to be different especially in an older house. Nothing is perfectly square. That’s why we use fillers against walls.
  • I recommend you start with the sink wall- then go clockwise around the room. Mark the locations of windows, doors, electrical, plumbing, utilities, and hvac. Now you’ll see if the measurements you did in 1 and 2 above work out. This is when you may need a glass of wine. #iwishipayedattentioninmathclass. If they don’t add up go back and find your mistake.
  • Locate fans, air vents, lights, or anything else in the ceiling or floor– Measure from two directions as you did for the outlets to locate the centers of the fixtures.
  • Locate islands and peninsulas– Look for electrical outlets or toe-kick vents you might have missed.
  • You will find out your room isn’t square– But just in case remeasure and check your math.

How to measure for the kitchen elevations

These are the straight-on view of the walls. They give the vertical and horizontal locations of the space. As if you stood against one wall and took a photo of the opposite. You took the photos already, right?

  • Let’s start again with the sink wall and work our way clockwise around. It helps if you label each wall. You can use A, B, C, 1, 2, 3, or what I do which is name them sink wall, range wall, fridge wall or whatever.
  • Do a rough sketch– one wall per page
  • Measure the height of the wall– again measure in two places and use the lowest number, but note the difference. Take this measurement to the ceiling, not any soffits, soffits come next.
  • Soffits or bulkheads– a soffit it a section of wall built out above the wall cabinets. It may have plumbing, electrical, or hvac running through it or it may be so that whoever put the cabinets in didn’t have to get taller cabinets. You need two or three measurements- the depth of the soffit from front to back wall, the height of the soffit from bottom to the ceiling and if, it doesn’t run the entire length of the wall, its length left to right.
  • Doors, windows and any other openings– repeat step 1 and 2 of the Let’s get started steps above. This is a double-check to your measurements.
  • Utilities– now locate the plumbing electrical, vents, hvac, etc using the tips in How to measure the floorplan above.
  • Appliances– if you’re keeping your appliances measure them. There are certain standard sizes, but fridges especially can vary widely in every direction. If your thinking of new appliances start figuring out the models you want. Check out my guide to refrigerators here and to cooking appliances here.

Hello! I’m Alex and I’m a kitchen designer for a big box store. I’ve helped thousands of people everything from little fixes to working with clients from blueprints to project completion. I like a puzzle and love it when someone says, “I have a stupid question” because that means I can help them.

how to measure your kitchen pin with tape measures as backdrop

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