Quick tips to measure for cabinets, plus bonus!

First of all, this is not the final measure for cabinets that you are going to use, but like most people, you probably want to get an idea of how many cabinets you need, based on what kind of cabinets you want. Usually, each style cabinet has a number of different widths, which means that the storage can vary, as well as shelves, doors, and drawers. So, if you’re ready for the quick and informal way to measure so you can ballpark price your cabinets yourself, then read on…

You’ll need a tape measure and something to record the measurements. Make sure to write down which wall you are measuring and note any windows or doorways. Other than that, you are ready to measure.

As a disclaimer, this measuring method is not the final measure you will want for actually ordering your cabinets. You should do your final measure once you know your ballpark budget. You can add and remove cabinets on this website to see the costs with shipping and tax, and if you buy assembled or unassembled.

Quick measure for Base cabinets

In most cases your base cabinets will be 34 1/2″ tall. On the West coast the normal thickness for countertops is 2CM (~3/4″), and on the East coast they tend to favor 3CM (~ 1 3/16″), so your overall height will be ~35 1/4″ – ~35 11/16″.

Measure from intersecting walls to the casing of doors, appliances, or tall cabinets you want. Figure your tall cabinet widths first, since these will serve as a “wall” end-point. So, if you have a tall Oven Cabinet that is 33″ wide, you’ll measure from point to point on the open wall, and then subtract 33″ for your final base cabinet measure.

Once you have your measurements for the base cabinets, divide that number by 36″. Why? Because that will be the widest cabinet you will use. Whatever number of inches left over will determine your last cabinet size or leftover space. So, let’s say you measure 84″ on a wall, divided by 36″ would leave 12″. So, you know your last cabinet will be a 12″ wide cabinet. That would be 2 36″ cabinets and 1 12″ cabinet, or you could split up the 2nd 36″ cabinet into 2 18″ cabinets, or 3 12″ cabinets. You get the idea.

But, if you measured 82″, divided by 36″, that would only leave 10″, so you would have to choose a 6″ spice rack cabinet, and have 4″ of open space, and could use a filler panel or a decorative leg. The other cabinets could be as described above.

Quick measure for Wall cabinets

Your wall cabinets in general will be 18″ above the countertop. So, this is a good rule of thumb (of course, this varies with design, but, remember, we’re just looking for a ballpark on basics – you can build on the basics as you find what you want).

Wall cabinets can be from 12″ to 42″ tall, so a fast way to see what height your ceilings will handle, measure 95 1/4″ from the floor to see if your ceiling height can handle it. Most modern homes have at least an 8′ ceiling (96″), but it is good to check. If your ceiling height is lower than that, you’ll simply go down to the next available height, usually 36″.

Use the principle we used above in determining widths, since 36″ wide cabinets are the largest. You can go down as wide as 15″. Or, if you have a corner, you can add a 12″ angle wall cabinet in that corner.

Remember to take into consideration the windows and appliances. You won’t be putting any cabinets above a stove, but you can put cabinets above a refrigerator.

Oven or utility cabinets

An oven or utility cabinet can be anywhere from 12″ to 36″ wide, and will replace both the base and wall cabinets. These are great for storage and can add a nice asymmetry to any kitchen design. You’ll love the extra space and look of these cabinets. You can replace any of the measurements noted above to use these cabinets.

Okay, we said this would be quick and simple, so that’s it. We hope this helps you as you try to determine your kitchen, bathroom, office, or laundry room cabinet budget.


If your budget is in place and have the money in the bank for the cabinets, you can use an airline miles reward credit card to make your purchase. Why? You can pay it off at the end of the month with your funds and, depending on how many cabinets you buy, get a couple of free flights out of the deal, basically saving you that money off your cabinet purchase.

(This is not offered as financial advice, just a useful tip. You, of course, are responsible for your spending habits).