countertop overhang and depth standards

aliris19March 9, 2011

So: what would you say is standard countertop overhang? Searching this forum (never a fun task: what's *wrong* with GW programmers? The free software out there is far better than this forum's) there seem to be many definitive answers that vary. Some time ago, however, I'd settled on 1.5? but my KD is insistent this is not true. (She is also not right about many other things as well, however).

There seems to be an issue about what cabinet types you have, frameless v. framed, and then whether you have inset or overlay. That is, some measure from the cabinet edge - certainly the templaters do - and others measure more functionally, from the resulting cabinet door edge. And the locatino of that cabinet door (not to mention drawer) will depend on hardware, no?

So what do you think? Is there no standard? What about when someone insists the standard is 1"? 1.25"? Etc. Does KBNA have a number?

And also, I would imagine the depth will be a function of what countertop edge you choose as well as the thickness of the countertop. Is it standard for countertop thickness to be 1.5"? And in what way does the overhang dependence on edge matter? Is there more overhang with fancier edges?

Thank you wise ones, professional and otherwise...

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I'd also count style and how far out your hardware projects. I went with minimal overhangs. It is a neater look for my cabs and overall kitchen.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 11:24AM
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Your countertop fabricator will give you all of your options given the type of cabinetry you order. You will be on site for templating, and you can hash out your preferences then.
Rule of thumb. 1 - 1 1/4 overhang from cabinet face depending on how thick the drawer/door fronts are. Our design software gives us 25' standard depth for countertops... Post Form laminate only comes in 25' depth for standard bases - Granite will be slightly deeper
You don't want your countertop to get in the way when
you open your drawers/doors... and you don't want the drawers/door fronts to protrude beyond you contertop. Since granite is custom, you can have what makes you comfortable...The granite will be made to your specs if you want a 1.5' overhang -
Now to consider thickness... Laminate is 1.5' standard... Granite however ranges to 1.25 plus +-

Hope this helps. If you have more questions about standards and the design process ... you can e-mail me at

Linda Berg - ACW Kitchen & Bath

Here is a link that might be useful: cabinets richmond va

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 11:36AM
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Fori is not pleased

My templater went off of where the door fronts were. (This way it doesn't matter what kind of cabinets you have--you just want them cleared.) The point is so that when water dribbles off your counter, it will hit your toes and not go into your drawers. If you go off where the hardware ends up, you could be adding up to an additional 2 inches, depending on if it's mounted on the rails/stiles or a recessed panel or whatever, so I think you can skip measuring from hardware unless it's important for your look.

Mine is just barely past the fronts and I wish I'd gone with more. A minimal overhang (like I have) may look nice but it's a real 8^$^*#@ when there's a spill. If you have a raised edge, like you can find on tile, it's not as big a concern.

Depth--totally up to you. It's mostly an appearance and not a functional issue, unless you are changing the height of the counter.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 11:41AM
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Thanks, Linda -- I appreciate the offer of off-list help too.

Fori, It seems there just aren't really pat answers, as always. So annoying! ;)

OK, so the thickness of the door will vary depending on style. For example, we are getting a shaker style and I'm going to go right now and measure it at its thickest point. I am guessing the hardware or closing-pads will impose and additional 1mm or so.

But this begs the real question: Let's say you don't want drips to be a pain. And you don't want to be "too" (whatever that is) inconvenienced by overhang impinging on underlying drawer entrance space. Is there really no functional (primary) and aesthetic (secondary) ideal for the countertop to overhang the front face of the cabinet door?

I read this and see how petulant this sounds: I just want a formulaic answer! And I gather there isn't really one, or at least not standardly accepted.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 11:53AM
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Fori is not pleased

Well, skip granite and get a material that allows you to have a marine or drip edge.

Go measure what you have now. If you don't dislike it, replicate it. There. Done!

And you'll probably be disappointed if you're after millimeter precision--you aren't gonna find it anywhere in a kitchen.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 12:03PM
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Hi again Linda -- I somehow bleeped over your rule-of-thumb on first reading; sorry. When you say 1" - 1.25" overhand from cabinet front, I'm guessing that's going to leave, then just 0.25" - 0.5" overhang from the face of the cabinet door/drawer front. That is, I'm guessing a 'standard' door front is 3/4" and there's a teensy bit extra going to happen for a closing-pad and/or wood skimping on the true 3/4" thickness.

Does that sound right?

Why am I wondering? Well, I was going to put drawers in a 31" deep U-shaped cavity for a pantry and this was going to have a countertop to the drawers. I guess the countertop should align with the edge of the cavity; certainly no more. And I guess the overhang should be consistent with elsewhere in the kitchen. And I guess I'm just being anal about wondering how wide that results in my passageways being, as designed. Plus, I need to know how deep to make those drawers in the pantry. So I guess I'm being extra-compulsive but ... someone ought to do it and I don't see any of the contractors involved doing it, really. sigh.

Thanks tons in advance (or midstream, rather).

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 12:09PM
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It's really hard to do hard and fast rules about anything especially kitchen designs and colour designs. Yes, There are "standards" with which we are "supposed" to follow. But then someone asks for an "exception" and then someones else wants a different "exceptions" all based on their own perceived ideas of what looks good. Nothing you can do about it except if you have a specific idea of what you want for a look that you are visualizing, make sure you ask for it and that it is in writing.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 12:19PM
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In general, counter overhangs are 1.5" give or take a bit depending on your fabricator or your slab(s) (how much material is available, etc.)

This is true for all frameless cabinets as well as non-inset framed cabinets. With inset, it can vary from a flush (not recommended) to 1/2" or more. (Frameless can also sometimes have counters flush w/their doors...more on that later.)

Purpose of overhang...The reason for the overhang at all is, as Fori mentioned, to direct spills away from the face of the cabinet box and drawer/door fronts. This protects the finish of the cabinets and door/drawer fronts as well as the contents of the cabinets/drawers. Doors & drawers are never so tightly sealed that things, including dust, cannot sift or drip down into them from above...the overhang protects them from these spills, etc.

Depth of overhang...A standard cabinet box is 24" deep and the door/drawer front is 3/4" to 1" thick. With frameless and non-inset framed (i.e., overlay) cabs, the door sits on top/in front of the box, so it adds another 1" or so to the overall depth of the cabinet run. Additionally, if you look at how doors & drawer fronts fit, there's a bit of a gap b/w the front of the cabinet box and the door/drawer front; it needs to be accounted for as well. To adequately protect the cabinets/doors/drawer fronts, the overhang must extend past a minimum of 1.25" is needed, but 1.5" is better (my granite overhang varies from 1.5" to almost 2"). Do not have only a 1" is not adequate protection for frameless or framed overlay cabinets.

With inset cabinets, the doors sit inside the cabinet itself (which is one of the reasons inset cabinets have the least amount of storage of the various types of cabinets.) This means they don't need as much of an overhang to protect the cabinet boxes and doors/drawer fronts. However, they do need some...and 1/2" is usually adequate.

Why is the overhang > overall depth? Because when things drip/sift off counters, they don't always go straight down...there's some movement horizontally (in/out). This is even more pronounced with some counter edges (like bullnose). So, an overhang approx 1/2" > the overall depth accommodates & protects against this variation.

Some people put in a flush countertop (flush w/box for inset or flush w/doors/drawer fronts with frameless; it doesn't work as well w/overlay) for a more "urban" look. However, they risk damaging their cabinets and doors/drawer fronts over time...and not necessarily that long a time, either.

Another advantage of this overhang, btw, is that it increases your workspace depth, even if only a little!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 12:53PM
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We went with a generous 1 1/2" overhang with inset cabinets, because we had a pull-out breadboard that sticks out that much from the face frame. I probably could have posted it on the "overkill" thread from last week. Without the breadboard, I still might have gone with an inch, though.

As far as this overhang restricting access to the top drawer--this is not a problem at all. (Drawers are full-extension.)

The thing I didn't take into account ahead of time is that my range is pretty shallow front to back and is designed to be installed close to flush. The cabinets are 25" deep, plus the overhang which brings the counter out to 26 1/2", which is too much for the range. We lined up the front corners of the range with the countertop and left a 1" space in the back. I'm not the first person to have this problem, I find, and I think the phenomenon could be named "the Bertazzoni gap."

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 1:21PM
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**The reason for the overhang at all is, as Fori mentioned, to direct spills away from the face of the cabinet box and drawer/door fronts. This protects the finish of the cabinets and door/drawer fronts as well as the contents of the cabinets/drawers.**

That just gave me a brainwave. I can't believe this never occurred to me before. Here's what I realized: on a bullnose countertop, won't spills tend to glide right around the bullnose and back to the cabinet face? Whereas on a half-bullnose, or any other edge profile that interrupts the flow with a 90-degree angle at the bottom, wouldn't spills be more likely to drop to the floor?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 1:52PM
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fwiw, i intend to do a 2" overhang over the sink. it may not look as "neat", but it will hopefully minimize water-damaged cabinets; i am a crazy mess when i wash dishes!

ideagirl2... that's a very interesting point. i would imagine with bullnose you might be right, but i have no experience.

anyone else with bullnose-edge counters?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 4:06PM
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ideagirl2, that's what someone at a cabinet/appliance place told me. She said they had bullnose in their working demo kitchen and the dishwasher always looked crummy because that's where they tended to leave wet things on the counter above.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 4:40PM
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That's why (1) a deeper overhang is needed if you use it (to help some...but not totally) and (2) I wouldn't recommend a full bullnose edge!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 11:59AM
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aliris19 I have a large overhang, and a reverse bevel edge which carries drips back towards the inside. For me it's not a big negative. I got what I wanted, and I have to occasionally wipe under the front edge of my counter.

Get the largest overhang you are comfortable having. Standing at your counter, your legs are that much farther from your base cabinets. It's ergonomically good. A fraction of an inch.

aliris19 ask not what the standard is for you to follow; ask what you want that you can have and that others can have later too as one model they might follow, among many. When I called around, and emailed too, I told them all what I wanted. One specialty retailer moved their retail outlet the following year and installed one of their new counters with the Exact Same Edge that I had described to them by email the previous year. They didn't have that edge previously. Their implementation was different from what I got. I like mine better.

The minimalist kind of image you can see in magazines and web sites is a photoshopped doctored image. In real life, when there is no overhang your legs are touching the cabinets a lot.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 2:11PM
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I just had new marble counter tops installed over recently painted cabinets. Before, I had a 'pencil' edge and the counter overhang was a bit less than one inch (I have inset doors), but the fabricator insisted that 1 1/2 inch was what the architects usually spec out. I have an ogee edge. What disturbs me-and no one else- is that the new counter tops make a shadow at the top of the cabinets that I didn't have before. I think I'm being a bit too finicky.

What I plan to do is get larger wooden knobs and paint them the same color as the cabinets- Benjamin Moore 'Acadia'. I'm glad to see that so many people have 1 1/2 inch overhang- I thought I was being had. I registered here because there is always good advice and even though I am a very decisive person about everything else, I am so insecure about this.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 6:32AM
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Finally de-lurking after many months of getting good advice. We are building a new kitchen. I want deeper counters -- I have 25" right now -- and was thinking 27". The cabinets are overlay. Is 27" OK? Or do I need to measure the finished cabinet with the hardware? This is my first time with these choices.

One thing no one has mentioned is that with the short overhang you can't clamp anything to the counter, like a pasta maker. I'm having the Island overlay 2.5" on the sides.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 7:08PM
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1-1/2" is the most common, but taking your appliances into account is important too. Many ranges and even "counter-depth" fridges are 26" deep. My vintage Chambers is 26 1/2" deep totally against the wall.

I too want 27" deep counters, not just because of the depth of the range, but also because one run will go to the corner, and I want 27" corner uppers and appliance garage (instead of normal 24"). So that means the counter will need to be 27" so the garage can sit on it. My counter will not wrap to the other wall - fridge will be there - so it has to be 27" deep at the counter, and I think it would look ridiculous to dip it back in an inch. Note that we are all tall, so we won't have a problem reaching to the back of the counter; this may be a problem for a short person, though. And the extra 1-1/2" will probably make a big difference if we put any canisters or jars along the back. The only real problem I can envision with a 27" deep counter is with an undermount sink - it will be at least 5-6" from the edge of the counter.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 3:39AM
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So when you are saying extend the overhang by 1-1/2" or even 2", do you mean from the cabinet frame (as the KD's seem to view it) or from the face of the doors which can add almost another inch?

People seem to talk in different terms there.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 10:42PM
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Very useful thread. Will keep this for future reference. Thank you everyone.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 12:04AM
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Yes, was worth bumping up again. Is Buehl around to clarify?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 9:19AM
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Bumping with a question. If you have a 1.5" overhang on the front of your cabinets, is it acceptable to have only 1" on the sides (of a run or an island) without a raised panel?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 9:31AM
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Funny, I found this thread when I was researching too. I think its a matter of personal preference, Barbarav. Is your overhang measured from the cabinet faces or from the cabinet body? If its the latter, I don't see why 1" on runs or islands would look weird unless there's an area where the two intersect.

When I was trying to decide on overhangs in my kitchen, I took a couple long thick boards and laid them on top of the cabinets in different places. Might be worth a quick experiment?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 11:51AM
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answer for snookums2 old post:
The overhang is measured from the face of the cabinet box/frame. Not from the face of the doors/drawers. So in essence, when you have 24" deep cabinet with 1" thick door mounted to the front of it (including gap between door and box), you would have a counter of 25.5" deep (24 + 1.5 overhang). This gives you .5" overhang past the front of the overlay doors/drawers.

When you have an inset cabinet, you have 24" deep cabinet, the door is inset (no doors/drawer faces mounted to the front of the cabinet), so you would have a counter of 24.5" deep (24 + .5 overhang). This gives you .5" overhang past the front of the cabinet and the inset doors/drawers.

As always, you can override these dimensions to your preference. You may prefer a 2" overhang with overlay cabinets, or you may prefer 1" overhang with inset cabinets.

Yes, you may have 1" on the sides when you don't have a panel. That would be a similar look to having a 1" overhang for inset cabinets.

Another idea is to have approx 7-8" overhang on the end of a peninsula or an island. We did that, so we can pull one or two of the stools around to the end for seating when we are sitting at the bar. Makes for better conversation than all 'lined up' at the counter. And, gives more room for the stools along the counter. When not in use, the stools stay all lined up at the counter as they would normally be (not one at the end).

I even wish I had done a slightly deeper overhang on the front side of the peninsula. My overhang is 1.25-1.5". I wish I had done 2" overhang in that spot so it was just a little more comfortable when we pull a stool around to that side. It wouldn't be somewhere I would want to sit at to eat (the 7-8" side is do-able for that though), but it would be good for when we are all hanging out there - we would have a few stools on the bar side of the peninsula, one on the end, and me on the front side of the peninsula with the drawer faces.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 12:50PM
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Swentastic, I had to laugh because there are indeed pieces of plywood on my faux island and on the cab boxes. We just demo'd the tile countertops which had zero overhang and created a mess. I'm reusing and moving the same run of cabinets and he plumber is coming tonite to see where I have the sink and dishwasher, so I'm marking it out on the floor and I'm awfully close to the door jam- thus my question. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 12:51PM
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I don't even think it will be noticeable that the overhangs are different on the front and sides, however, why not just make them all 1"? (I originally wanted mine flush, but my DH overruled that due to the inability to hold your hand under the edge to catch "messes", and he was right. Ours are all 1" and its perfect).

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 12:57PM
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Same here Barb! We have very little clearance by our door jamb and I was worried 1.5" would interfere but with the plywood we determined I could get away with it.

I also wanted flush or even 1" overhang, but since we have MDF drawers and doors I wanted as much runoff protection as I could get. I can't tell you how many times I poured coffee in my drawers (HA! context is important - amiright ladies?) in our last kitchen and I don't want to risk blistering or anything.

I'm sure it'll look great whatever you do! I'm impressed that you'll be able to reuse cabinets - that's so hard to do! Would love to see pics when you're done!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 1:18PM
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Swentastic, I'll definitely be posting pictures. People have been such an enormous help on these forums! Thanks.
Angela I just started another thread asking a question about exactly what you're talking about here. You know, you see these great looking pictures and think, yup, that's exactly what I want, but when you (hopefully) set it up that way, you realize that it's a very awkward setup. I am so thankful that you said a 7-8" overhang is doable, just for sitting and chatting and the occasional snack. Good suggestion for the 2" overhang on the front of the counter, too. You also helped me realize that I'll need end panels, esp. on the reused run, thanks. Sj, I think it's good that you went with 1" overhang. No overhang is really a pain. And I LOVE your kitchen!

This post was edited by Barbarav on Thu, Sep 4, 14 at 13:45

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 1:40PM
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I made my tops overhang the cabinet fronts 2" just because I liked the look. When I got my new used slide-in range, I had to notch the tops to get the range back far enough for the cabinets to cover the range side panel holes. The front of the range and the top edge are flush now which might bother some but doesn't bother me.

There is always a price to pay for deviating from the norm.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 6:08PM
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