Kitchen counter overhang for bar stools... how far?

dirtslinger2July 10, 2010

My peninulas butcher block is oversized and is to be trimmed on site.

All I need to do is decide on how many inches to overhang the edge off the back of cabinetry. Not easy!

Carpenter suggests 8" towards the stools, and 4" in to the hallway.

Does that sounds about right? This is a toughy as you can oversize it and trim later, but the trimmed stretch will never look the same either. Thanks for any ideas!

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My overhang is 12 1/2 inches. 8 seems a little short if you plan on sitting there to eat.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 12:52PM
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The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) recommends a minimum seating overhang (clear space) of: Table-height seating (30" high): 18" overhang Counter-height seating (36" high): 15" overhang Bar-height seating (42" high): 12" overhang

From personal experience, I think these are excellent recommendations. I have sat at 12" overhangs at counter-height and found them too shallow. We have 15" and it's OK, but my DH would have liked 18". We have friends w/a 12" counter-height overhang and I find it uncomfortable to sit at for any length of time. I have to sit sideways or "straddle" the peninsula or sit far from the counter edge. None of those is comfortable. My DH won't sit at it at all b/c he finds it much too uncomfortable. (I'm 5'10" & my DH is 6'5".)

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 2:36PM
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What about granite? IIRC a fabricator told me a 10" overhang was the max for my breakfast bar.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 2:30AM
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I was told I can safely do 12 inches without an additional support. Anything after that, I need a support (i.e. a leg or arch off the cabinet below).

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 3:14AM
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First of all, the recommended seating overhang has nothing to do with counter applies to granite, soapstone, quartz, wood, laminate, etc.

Second, you will need support for any material...for stone, follow the "6 & 10" rule.

For 2cm stone, any overhang > 6" will need support.
For 3cm stone, any overhang > 10" will need support.

So, for the recommended 15" overhang, you will need the following support: 2cm stone: 15" - 6" = 9" of support
3cm stone: 15" - 10" = 5" of support

For a 12" do need support...2" of it for 3cm stone & 6" for 2cm. Anyone who tells you differently is incorrect.

Some people will skimp on overhang for a variety of reasons (most commonly b/c they're trying to squeeze in seating where there really isn't room or they're trying to avoid having to support it). However, skimping on overhang, while it may reduce or eliminate the need for support, will not make an inadequate space "work". People will take up the same amount of room regardless of the overhang you provide. The adult human body can "squeeze in" only so much. What happens is that people will still sit as far back, but now they have to lean in quite a bit further to reach the counter or they have to "straddle" the cabinets or they have to sit sideways. None of those is comfortable for any length of time. It may be OK if someone is just "perching" for a short period of time, but not for prolonged conversation & visiting or meals (even breakfast or lunch).

Yes, people in general can adapt to or "make do" with just about anything (that's why people will sit sideways, straddle, etc.), but is that the goal of your "make do"? If you're spending all this $$$$ on a remodel, I would think you would want to make it the best you can...first & foremost functionally and then aesthetically.

So, don't skimp on overhang and plan for
adequate aisle widths,
adequate workspace in the primary Zones (Prep, Cooking, Cleanup),
adequate work and landing space around appliances (cooktop/range, refrigerator, oven(s), sink(s), DW, etc.), and
good workflow...Storage --> Prep Zone --> Cooking Zone --> Cleanup Zone w/minimum zone crossing/overlaps/conflicts.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 8:45AM
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related topic:
Our laminate countertop guy came to look over the project and make plans. We have changed original blueprint plan from 12 inch to 15 inch overhang on stool area (countertop ht.) and he began to pose suggestions as to what we can do to make the support brackets.

Suddenly, a brainwave hit me: I have already purchased the oak pieces for supports because I did not toss the cut-off sections from a whole new stairway of oak stair treads. I hauled in a few to show him and his eyes lit up. He drew a shape on a piece and said he could work up a set of custom supports easily!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 9:39AM
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Mine is 12 inches with counterheight island - it's been working well.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 10:47AM
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I'm thinking it might be clearer to say that the seating side needs at least 12" for knee space if you have bar height seating. So if you have the back of the cabinet, then a pony wall, you need at least 12" from the face of the pony wall.

The amount of counter that covers the top of the pony wall is extra.

Some thing for counter height seating, except its 15" instead of 12".

I'm confused about the seating side and the hall side, tho.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 11:05AM
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We have a counter-height bar and due to the size of our island and slab we went with a 12" overhang. It is plenty for our family and guests. My DH is 6"1" and DS is 6"3" and no one has had to turn to the side to be more comfortable. I guess if an extremely tall guest felt uncomfortable, said guest could sit at the nearby table. IMO, bar sitting is extremely casual anyway, so if one had to sit to the side a little bit it would or should be no big deal.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 11:40AM
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"For 2cm stone, any overhang > 6" will need support.
For 3cm stone, any overhang > 10" will need support. "

Just to clarify if my granite is 3cm I can safely have 10" or less of unsupported bar overhang? I have been searching this on the web and have seen everything from 6" to 12". If 2cm is less than 3cm why would that be only up to a 6" unsupported overhang? I've read that the 2cm with a subtop is actually more flexible than a 3cm and would withstand more. I am planning on doing a 10" overhang and want to make sure it is safe. Does anyone actually know of an unsupported overhang that broke off?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 8:53AM
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I'm trying to determine whether or not corbels will be necessary on my 42" high breakfast bar. I am intending to install 14" of 3cm granite on a 5" pony wall, 72" long. I will have 9" of overhang. Can this span be unsupported? Also, if I must install corbels, can they be installed after the granite is put in? Thank you.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 12:36PM
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I do have an 8" overhang in my sewing room, on the cutting table where I sometime sit. It is doable to sit there, but I would never go that shallow for my kitchen island.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 12:49PM
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    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 7:18PM
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Could someone give me some guidance on this. If I have to go with the corbels, they will need to be installed no later than Tuesday since the workman who will do this will not be back again until after the granite is installed. I know that the overhang will not be greater than 9" since that's all the room available. What I have to determine is whether it is necessary to have the corbels at all with just a 5" pony wall. The previous postings say more than 10" overhang with 3cm granite need to be supported, but I am assuming that this is 10" behind a 24a" island. Thank you for any guidance.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 8:14PM
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There are two reasons to need support for overhangs. The first reason is to prevent the granite from cracking from too much unsupported weight. The second reason is to keep a bar from toppling over. With a 9-inch overhang, depending on the thickness of your stone, you probably won't have an issue with cracking, but you are very likely to have a problem with your bar toppling over if you don't have support.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 9:24PM
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Thank you----I decided to put in the corbels precisely for the support issues.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 6:49PM
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Just had to throw my 2 cents in here. I have a counter height island we eat virtually all our meals at. The overhang on the side that DH sits is 9.5" and he is 6 feet tall and says " it's fine....I don't have a problem with it". I'm not suggesting that you should make an overhang less than 12" as long as you have the room, but if you don't have the room 11 or 10 inches is not going to be too shallow to be do-able unless someone is very tall or has very long legs.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 2:39PM
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Height is not the only factor...leg length is as well. Someone 6'4 could have shorter legs than someone 5'10" (speaking from experience here!) For me, at 5'10", I would absolutely not be comfortable w/a 9.5" overhang for either bar or counter height, especially if I were eating all meals there!

My 6'5" DH originally told me our 15" counter-height overhang "was fine". But, when I pressed him, he finally admitted it was a bit too shallow . His reason for not saying so originally? There was nothing that could be done about it, so why mention it?

I think we all sometimes tell ourselves that something is "OK" if there's nothing we can do about it. But, in the case of a kitchen remodel in progress, there often is something that can be done about it (assuming you're not trying to shoehorn seating into a space that's too small to handle it.) So, why "settle" for something that isn't the best.

The NKBA recommends those minimum overhangs for a reason, not just to be difficult. People take up a certain amount of space regardless of the overhang. All you're doing by skimping on overhang is make it more uncomfortable for someone to sit at the counter, especially for an extended period of time.

Why am I so emphatic about this? Because I think people should be given the best information out there, not what others have "made do with" for whatever reason. Go sit at counters to "try them out"...but do it for more than a minute or two and be sure you account for the height & leg length of everyone who will be using it, not just you. You should be able to sit straight in front of the counter w/your legs straight out from you (no putting them on an angle or spreading them to reach the counter). The overhang is too shallow if:

  • You have to lean forward to reach the counter

  • You have to sit sideways, even just a little.

  • You have to "straddle" the cabinet (or wall) at all. I.e., if you have to spread your legs to allow yourself to move closer to the counter edge and cannot sit at the counter w/your legs together and straight in front of you

If a shallow overhang works OK for you b/c you have short legs, you don't sit at and don't want others to sit at the counter for very long, or if you have no other choice b/c your kitchen size and/or layout cannot handle recommended seating measurements (be honest w/yourself), that's one thing...but I feel very strongly that we have a responsibility to tell people what the "best practices" are and what studies, etc. have shown works best in most situations.

I had people, here and elsewhere, telling me over and over again that 12" would be fine for a counter-height overhang...I'm very glad I didn't listen to them! And remember, the NKBA recommendations are a minimum, if you have tall or long-legged people in your family, consider making it even deeper (I now wish we had made ours 18" even though it's counter height. It's OK for my DD & me, but not for my DH & DS.) [BTW, my KD was...

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 3:35PM
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So an 8 x 11 piece of paper should give you a rough feel for the widths you are talking about. Turn the paper both ways and ask yourself if either of them would be a nice place to sit at. If you are comfortable with it (or not), then you have answered your own question. Try it and see how it feels.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 4:56PM
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First few posts by Buehl has it correct. The 8" overhang is too small. I have a radius overhand on my island and it goes from 10" to 14" and works well. Peope sit closer to the lower counterheights so they are slightly deeper.

The butcherblock should support itself if its thick enough.
Overwise you need brackets, a thicker subtop or horizontal supports for other materials. Dont particularly like brackets or legs and would rather make sure the subtop can support it even when Ive had to incorporate intregal steel supports.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 5:37PM
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