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Monday, December 11, 2006

Determining The Distance Between Base & Wall Cabinets

Hey there,
I received a really great question from one of my subscribers to the "Secrets of the
Professional Cabinetmaker" Mini-Course.

I decided to post the original question, and my reply, here on the blog as I'm sure it
will be of interest to most everyone! If you're not yet a subscriber, go to and sign up!



I am in the process of starting on our new kitchen cabinets. I read the cabinetmaking info you supplied and understand that wall cabinets are normally 18” above the base cabs. However, I didn’t see anything on wall cabinet distance over a range. Is there a standard norm or just a variable?


Hi Ed,

I just got back from vacation and got your email…

Before I answer your question regarding ventilation cabinets let's go back to "standard" wall cabinet placement.

Most of the time, I try to set the wall cabinets 18" above the finished countertop.This means that the "level-line" I use for the wall cabinets will actually be 18" above the base cabinets PLUS whatever thickness the finished countertop will be.

If the finished countertop is going to be a solid-surface product like Corian, the level-line will be 18 3/4" above the base cabinet height. The thickness of the "Corian" is roughly 3/4" and is installed right-on-top of the base cabinets.

If the finished countertop is going to be granite, the level-line will be 19 1/2" above the base cabinets as the thickness of the granite and the 5/8" thick plywood subtop it's set on will be about 1 1/2" thick total.

Now then, these are not hard-and-fast figures! Generally any distance (measured from finished countertop to bottom of wall cabinet) that is in the 16-18" range should work just fine.

Here's a couple of things to think about when gauging this distance… You want to know the height of any countertop appliance that will generally stay in place… Let's say you have a real nice Coffee Maker that stands 17" tall. Allowing 16" is probably not going to work.

Check all countertop appliance heights before setting this distance in stone (I mean wood) ;- )
Also, I generally only go to 16" when one (or both) of my clients are short. If the primary cook is only 5' 3", you may consider setting the wall cabinets 16" above the finished countertop to help them access the wall cabinets. I have only once set wall cabinets tighter than 16" but that was against my better judgment.

Now then, to answer your question about the placement of the wall cabinet above the range…
This placement is determined by the requirements of your ventilation system (and your local building codes). Read the installation information supplied with your ventilator to determine correct placement.

Generally, most ventilators are installed between 30" and 36" above the range. The closer the ventilator is to the range the more efficient it will be. That being said, it will also allow less room for which to cook in.

I try to keep the ventilator 34-36" above the range whenever possible. This will normally be sufficient for ventilation, allow more room for the cook, and generally be acceptable for the building inspector.

Please make sure to read the installation instructions for the ventilator and research your areas building codes before you determine an exact placement.

Thanks again for your interest and Good Luck with your install!



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4:37 AM  

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