Recessed fridge - opening dimensions

laurajane02August 24, 2012

Good morning,

We're planning to recess a standard depth 36" wide fridge into the wall so that it appears counter depth. I know many GWer's have done this in the past. My GC has just started to frame the opening and the deeper hole is exactly 36" wide. I'm thinking we'll probably need an extra 1/2 inch or so? I'm going to check that he took the drywall into consideration.

My questions:

1. How much space do you need along the sides of a freestanding fridge? The specs on this one are 35.75" wide.

2. How much space do you need above a freestanding fridge that is 69.75" tall?

3. Any other tips so that this plan goes smoothly?

I haven't chosen a specific fridge yet, but I'm leaning towards this one:

Here is a link that might be useful: Possible fridge

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Definitely add the extra 1/2" with even a little extra at the back. Although asthetically, we want it to look built in, your refrigerator will function better if it can move air around it.

In my kitchen I did last summer, I have a pantry, then a deep 36" over the fridge and then a wall panel with a 1.5" face and a thin panel. With the side of the pantry being inset slightly from the face and the panel being inset to its face, my 36" wide fridge has almost an extra inch of clearance inside its opening. BUT, the opening on the face of the cabinets is exactly 36". My brand new counter depth fridge was not completely square! It would not slide in the opening! I had to roll one side of it up on luan plywood to square it up so it slides in and out of the opening.

In the kitchen I am doing right now, I have a solid 3/4" end panel, a deep 36" over the fridge and I added a 3/4" cherry spacer board between the drywall wall and the over the fridge cabinet. So my opening is 36 3/4" wide.

If you go into the manufacturer's info for the fridge you are looking at, they generally have the installation info clickable which will detail their clearance requirements.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 11:47AM
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Don't forget about baseboard trim if you plan to wrap the recessed area. It takes up an extra 1/2". Finished opening with drywall should be 1" to 1.5" larger than refrigerator to make sure you can get it in and out OK.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 12:09PM
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Thanks to both of you for reminding me about the trim. Obviously, that would be a good way to make up for any extra width. Luckily, I'm having a meeting with my GC and cabinet maker today.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 12:12PM
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The answer is: it depends.

each manufacturer is different as to their requirements for air circulation around the box. Some require as much as 1" clearance on all sides. Some none, though that would be bad (imagine trying to insert and remove a 250lb fridge with no clearance on either side).

Also note that the recess in the wall does not have to be the same as the width of the cabinet opening. But you should leave yourself some room for water and electrical lines. I would probably want 1/2" minimum around all sides.


    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 4:32PM
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My frig is encased in drywall rather than a cabinet. I left about an inch and a half on either side and then I trimmed out the frig with and inch and a half, low profile molding letting it hang over the edge of the drywall somewhat. This minimizes the gap around the frig. The trim is painted the same as the walls.

If yours is a cabinet surround, you can add a small, low profile wood trim.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 9:14AM
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Thanks again for responding. I met with my GC and Cabinet guy yesterday. They are going to frame a 38" opening and then we'll use inset trim around the fridge afterwards like you have suggested.

It just occurred to me that I'll have to ask them to frame it deeper as well. I think they allowed an extra 6", but with a 33" deep fridge, that won't be enough. I'm glad I'm catching this now!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 10:18AM
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I am not sure, but I don't think you will be able to recess it more than 6" anyway. You can only recess it as deep as the fridge box,as the doors need to be outside the recessed area to open fully. Just have your GC measure the depth of the fridge without the door. I know my fridge is about 33" deep with door and handle, but the fridge box is only 28" deep. If I was going to be able to recess it (can't due to plumbing on back wall!), I would make the box level with the countertops, allowing for about an inch behind for the plug-in and water line. Or something like that. Hope that makes sense.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 8:14PM
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