Cabinet height above counters?

katy-louMarch 22, 2013

Argh. So I understand 18" is standard but does that include the bottom "lip" of the cabinets to hide the light rail? If we put bottom of cabs at 18" it will mean bottom of trim is at 16.5" - think this might look cramped? And KA stand
Mixer (lift bowl) won't fit - need to decide this quick but opinions on doing 17" or 17.5"?

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felixnot

That's standard. Don't know what kind of lighting you're putting in, but you can easily go with 3/4 for a rail and use LED.,. I have no problem with my KItchenAide most of the machine isn't under the cabinet when in use

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 8:47PM
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katy-lou

Right now we are planning on the Philips led ucl

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 8:54PM
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buehl

Standard is 18" b/w the counter and the light rail or, if no light rail, then the bottom of the upper cabinets.

Our KA mixer barely fits under our light rail b/c our cabinets were mounted a bit too low. I have to take the cloth cover off or it pulls on the light rail.

For those thinking of installing cabinets & light rail with Scroll down to the post by me at "Fri, Jan 21, 11 at 23:30".

Here is a link that might be useful: Thread: Distance between countertop and upper cabinets?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 8:52AM
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Caliente63

Your range/cooktop/rangetop may have requirements about depth, height, and proximity of upper cabinets. For example, Capital Culinarian gas ranges require that any upper cabinet within 12" of the side of the range is at least 18" above the counter and no more than 13" deep including the door.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 2:03PM
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GreenDesigns

The bottom alignment height of upper cabinets is 54" above the finished floor. Any molding you add to the bottom will subtract clearance between the counter height and cabinets above. If you need to maintain maximum clearance, then use a smaller light rail. Or choose an area to have shorter cabinets for your "small appliance" area. That can mean choosing 6" shorter cabinets and increasing the bottom alignment in that area to 60". That works well for people who have large mixers or coffee makers or toaster ovens, etc.

LED tape lighting only takes 1/4" of room, and that, only where the connectors are attached. The actual tape is maybe 1/8". It can actually mount on the rear of the light rail itself, or under the boxes and add no clearance issues at all.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 2:14PM
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KentWhitten

18" standard is code MINIMUM for around the stove area. 1-1/2" wide light rail is pretty thick. So yes, the clear, minimum height between the stove and LIGHT RAIL is 18"

There has been discussion that if there is by some long shot chance a stove fire that ignites at the uppers where they are set too low, that the insurance company will NOT reimburse you for it. Stove manufacturers have the height requirements right in their documentation.

This post was edited by KentWhitten on Sun, Mar 24, 13 at 17:28

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 2:17PM
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gr8daygw

In my kitchen to the bottom of the actual cabinet is 18" from counter, to the bottom of the light skirt is 16 5/8". I keep my Kitchen Aid Mixer in a cabinet (I know, pita) and when I use it put it at the end of the counter where there are no overhead cabinets. Might not be an option for you though.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 2:24PM
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taggie

We did 20" between counter and cabs to allow room for the light rail, plus we wanted room for my husband's tall ninja blender which didn't fit under the cabs in our previous kitchen ... drove me batty as he'd always leave it there in two pieces, arrrgh.

So measure what appliances you want to use under the cabs, and go higher if you need to (assuming you are tall enough to still reach the upper shelves comfortably).

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 2:33PM
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Caliente63

@KentWhitten said: "Not only is 18" standard, it is code MINIMUM."

I don't believe that. Lots of people here have had less than that.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 2:58PM
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SparklingWater

Wow, this is making me re-think the upper run height again.

What do other's think? 18" to cabinet bottom from surface of range or 18" to light rail? I've always read to cabinet bottom and that is what is shown on my range spec picture-i.e., it doesn't show a light rail, it shows a cabinet bottom, conveying silence on their part on this matter. Silence is not "shall be" 18" to light rail. jmo.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 4:31PM
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quiltgirl

I am having 16" between and there is no code for this, just industry standard. My sister has 15". I am short and my cabinets are 15" deep so it is convenient. I only have three uppers and the rest of kitchen is open space.

1 Like    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 5:03PM
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KentWhitten

I should clarify my response. The code isn't actually for the cabinets above the counters themselves, but to stoves. It's a standard code requirement to be a minimum 18" from stove to combustible materials, which transfers around to the whole kitchen. You don't HAVE to have it at 18" everywhere else, but if you set the cabinets at 18" minimum at the stove area to accommodate the code for clearance, then why wouldn't you set that height everywhere else?

The actual code from the 2009 IRC code book says

"M1505.1 General. A clearance of at least 24 inches (610 mm) shall be maintained between the cooking surface and the combustible material or cabinet."

That itself is implying that even my 18" statement is wrong. Maybe they mean to the burner or flame. But I do know that you would be playing roulette if your house ever burned down and the insurance company wanted to find a way out of paying you and they found your upper cabinets were installed within this 18" or 24" measurement.

Not to mention that many appliances are pushing heights now and some will just not fit under the cabinets without that 18" clearance. So it's part code and part planning and design around appliances.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 5:25PM
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GreenDesigns

That is why you have a vent that is 6" larger than the cooking surface. Then the 24" to the combustible surface doesn't come into play and you can have custom cabinets at whatever distance above the counter as you desire. However, if you are using semi custom or stock lines, your wall cabinets will not align with the tall cabinets or the over the refrigerator cabinet if you do not align them as the system has designed for, which is 54" above floor height.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 6:00PM
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katy-lou

Thanks everyone for the input. Yes we are doing custom cabinets, just trying to figure out what will work / look best. We are doing shaker style doors inset, with face frame. Right now I think we're leaning towards 2.5" face frame thickness on both top and bottom which will leave us with 1.75" overhang to help hide the 0.88" thick ucl (Philips). A bit larger to hopefully hide better when sitting at the eat in table in the kitchen. Distance from counter to bottom trim will now be 17.5" so we can fit the mixer and hopefully it doesn't feel too squished.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 1:18AM
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Caliente63

@KentWhitten said "you would be playing roulette if your house ever burned down and the insurance company wanted to find a way out of paying you and they found your upper cabinets were installed within this 18" or 24" measurement."

This is one of those enduring myths. The only way this could ever be relevant is if the cabinets above your cooktop are set on fire by the cooktop. If your house burns down because of an electrical fault in the garage, the insurance company will not be standing in your kitchen measuring the height of the wall cabinets.

What the IRC section you quoted above is actually referring to is cabinetry directly above the cooktop, not to the side. Manufacturer's installation instructions will specify the required clearances for cabinetry above and adjacent to cooktops, as I explained in detail above. Those instructions are almost invariably more restrictive than code, and reflect the conditions used in testing to gain UL certification.

If you wish/need to, you can often work around clearance issues using a non-flammable protective surface, such as tile, or cement board faced with stainless steel. Again, manufacturer's installation instructions will often provide guidance.

In the context of this thread, the bottom of the light-rail is the relevant height (unless you have a non-flammable light rail).

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 4:13PM
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