If you're lucky enough to be planning a kitchen renovation, you'll need to know the standard countertop dimensions. Kitchens very commonly suffer the one-size-fits-all malady of not being ideal for everyone. Knowing standard countertop depth and height can give you a great starting point for how to adapt and personalize the space to meet your needs, especially when planning the kitchen of your dreams.
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In the kitchen, 25 inches is the standard countertop depth, but bathroom counters are typically between 19.5 and 22.5 inches.
Standard Countertop Dimensions
Kitchen counters and bathroom counters have different dimensions. The countertop industry needs to start somewhere for selling products to a broad audience, and that "somewhere" is the linear foot by which they sell their countertops. A linear foot is 12 by 25 inches, in this case, since the standard counter depth for kitchens is 25 inches. This depth means most people easily reach the back of the counter. Bathrooms tend to have smaller and narrower counters, especially since people will lean over them to inspect their face regularly; they measure between 19.5 and 22.5 inches deep.
For height, the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers of America dictates that the work surface in kitchens should be 36 inches high, including the countertop thickness, cupboard and toe kick.
Standard Dimensions Vs Ergonomics
Increasingly, day-to-day tasks are being identified for how much strain they add to our lives. Whether it's setting up a work desk or designing a new kitchen, knowing how to fit things to suit your body can make all the difference in the toll it takes in the months and years ahead. All that chopping, cleaning and prep work can make for sore shoulders and other body strains if your kitchen doesn't measure up to your body.
For kitchens, when standing straight in front of the counter with elbows by your side and bent to 90 degrees for chopping and such, the work surface should be 3 to 4 inches below your hands. Anything lower, and you'll be stooping all through meal prep, something most six-footers find to be a real pain. If you knead bread, roll out dough or do other physical projects that involve leaning into the work a bit, then a separate surface of about 8 inches below the bent elbow would be ideal.
For cooktops, ideally, they'll be 5 to 6 inches under bent elbow height, and this is for "safety first" — to make sure sizzling fats are a little farther from the face.
Modifying Counter Depth and Height
Accessibility and ergonomics are more important than they've ever been. While having a nonstandard kitchen may prohibit some buyers from being interested in a home, it may make it more attractive to others. Wheelchair users, for instance, seek an accessible workspace that has at least 3 feet of knee space under the countertop so they can roll up and get chopping.
A kitchen really is the sum of its parts, and there's no sense coming up with a great countertop execution if you've failed to consider appliance dimensions and other practicalities. You'll need to know what appliances will live in your kitchen and where. Outlets will impact where appliances can sit, and that will affect how your workspace plays out.
If you do decide to make your kitchen counter deeper, be aware that customizations may affect the cabinet's functionality with opening drawers and doors. Be sure you're thinking of the kitchen as a whole — and thinking of all those long hours you'll spend preparing glorious feasts — as you consider your countertop dimensions and cabinet options.
Steffani Cameron is the daughter of a realtor and interior decorator mother and a home contractor father. Steffani is a professional writer with over five years' experience writing about the home for BuildDirect and Bob Vila. Raised with a mad love for decorating, Steffani gave up her Art Deco apartment to travel and work remotely for five years. She's in love with experiencing traditional decor around the world, including stays in Thai teak plantations on the Mekong River and cave homes in Turkey.