Measuring Your Kitchen

Measuring Your Kitchen - Measure Twice, Order Once (get it right the first time!).

Whether you are remodeling or building a new house, measuring your kitchen is one of the most important things you can do (if not thee most important).  Measuring your kitchen right ensures your project will continue smoothly.  It also helps ensure you'll have no added costs.

Before you even get a bid, unless a custom cabinet shop will come and measure for you, measure your kitchen.  Even if they are just close to begin with, at least you have a basis for getting an accurate bid.

IF YOU ARE BUILDING A NEW HOUSE:

Your blue prints will give accurate enough information so that kitchen cabinets can be planned and priced accurately.  Don't make the mistake of thinking your blue prints will be the final measurement of your kitchen, they won't.  Things (and measurements), no matter how accurate your contractor and/or builder is, will change a little.  Even an 1/8" can make a difference on your cabinets and countertop fitting right.

When you are getting the initial bid, give your blue prints to your cabinetmaker or cabinet sales person.  They will read them and get the information they need.  Be sure to give them to-scale prints.  Copies that have been shrunk will not do.

If you are building the cabinets yourself, you must be able to accurately read blue prints.

ONCE THE HOUSE IS UP

Once your stud walls are up and the roof is on, your cabinetmaker or cabinet sales person, needs to go on-site and take accurate measurements of inside walls as soon as possible.

In the construction business, once the walls are up and the roof is on, you need to measure your kitchen immediately.  If you do, you'll have just enough time to order your cabinets and get them there on time for installation.

You want to have your cabinets there when your home is ready for them.  Don't miss the boat and be waiting for cabinets (and waiting to get into your house) because measuring your kitchen wasn't done when it should and could have been.

When measuring your kitchen, sheet rock does not need to be up.  As a matter of fact, if you wait until sheet rock is up, it's often too late to make sure your cabinets will be ready when you need them. 

Just make sure there's a note on your measurements - or the cabinet salesperson's - that the measurements taken are without sheet rock.  Sheet rock is normally 1/2" thick.  Example:  if your cabinets are between two walls, you will deduct 1" from the total wall length to get an accurate measurement when you are measuring your kitchen.

If a custom cabinet maker builds your cabinets, they often need four weeks or longer to actually build your cabinets (even up to two or three months, if they indicate they will be longer than that, find another cabinet maker).  Their schedule will depend on how booked up they are.  You don't want to give them any excuse for delay, so make sure they know when they can measure inside walls.

Real World Experience:  When we had our custom cabinet shop in Wisconsin, we could push out a custom kitchen in three weeks, once we did one in two and we only had a two-man shop at the time, but that is really pushing it (actually, it was a one man, one woman shop).  We did maintain quality, but allow your cabinet maker a month, at least, to get the job done.  Keep in mind that some cabinet makers may be stallers.  If they are taking longer than two months to actually built the cabinets, beware.  Unless you have an extremely intricate and difficult kitchen to build, it shouldn't take even a custom shop that long (unless they are just booked up with other jobs).  Obviously, if you are building them yourself, take as much time as you need, because it will take you much longer than a professional who has all of the equipment and room to build.

GET ACCURATE (UP-TO-DATE) CABINET PLANS TO OTHER SUB-CONTRACTORS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Another reason for measuring your kitchen as soon as possible is to get accurate kitchen plans and dimensions for your electrician and plumber.  The electrician and plumber should already have a draft plan from your cabinet maker or cabinet salesperson, but they should get revised plans as soon as the walls are up, with complete and accurate measurements and any changes.  This will ensure they place their outlets and plumbing, etc., in the correct places.  You want this done before the sheet rock is on.

Overview:

  • Take final, accurate measurements of your inside walls as soon as the walls are up and the roof is on your house.
  • Make sure the measurements are taken before the sheet rock is on (your cabinet maker or salesperson will know to deduct 1/2" for sheet rock width, or 1" if between walls.
  • If you don't measure as soon as possible, you may be waiting for kitchen cabinets to arrive.  This can be frustrating.  Kitchen cabinets are one of the last things installed in your home.  By that time, after three or more months of construction, you will dislike any delays!!  The only things that go into your house after the cabinets are some trim work and the carpeting.
  • Measuring your kitchen as soon as possible will help ensure your plumber and electrician get final cabinet measurements when they need them.  You want them to be able to adjust fixtures where needed before any sheet rock is on.  Things can usually be changed after sheetrock is finished, but it is much more of a headache, it can't always be done, and will cost you more.

MEASURING YOUR KITCHEN WHEN YOU ARE REMODELING AN EXISTING KITCHEN

  • Draw out your kitchen layout on paper.  Include any doors, windows, etc.  This does not need to be to-scale.
  • Measure the entire room, wall to wall, and record .  Use inches, not feet (i.e. 110" rather than 9' 2") - your cabinet maker or salesperson will only use inches when they are drawing out your plan.
  • Go back and measure each wall, this time from section to section.  For example, from the doorway to the window to the corner, etc.  When you are measuring doors and windows, measure from outside edge to outside edge of casing or trim work.
  • Double check your dimensions by adding up the individual sections of the wall.  Make sure they match up with the overall wall dimension.  If they don't, re-measure.
  • Record where switches, outlets, cold-air returns, heat registers, etc., are and their measurements.
  • If a window is above your sink, find the center of the window (this will allow you to find where the center of your sink cabinet should be - you want them to match - only rarely can you let the center of your window and the center of your sink not match for aesthetic reasons).  Measure the window, divide by 2, mark it (in pencil on the window frame).  Then measure from the end of the wall or corner to the center of the window (where you marked).  This is where the center of your sink should be too.
  • Measure your ceiling height, if you don't have a vault.  Measure at several areas in the kitchen, using the shortest measurement as your final measurement.
  • If you have a soffit (or bulkhead), measure at several areas from the floor to the soffit.  Again, use the smallest measurement.
  • Measure the soffit's height and depth in several places, if possible.  Keep in mind that upper cabinets are usually 12" deep.  If your soffit is 13" deep, you will be able to fit the upper cabinets under it, but will only be able to have a top trim that is 3/4" deep.  Do not run top trim right up the edge of your soffit if you can avoid it.  Nothing is ever completely square, so there will be points where your trim will overhang your soffit if you try to run it flush.

Keep in mind: These preliminary dimensions are to get quotes from your cabinet maker or sales person.  Once they have the job, they should come on-site and re-measure for you.  Once they do that, they are responsible for any inaccuracies.  Some factory, or stock cabinet companies, won't come out and re-measure.  In that case, you must be sure to do a great job of measuring your kitchen.

REPLACING AN EXISTING KITCHEN:  ADDING OR REMOVING WALLS

If you are adding or removing walls to an existing kitchen, you will most likely have a contractor, builder, or designer helping you.  They may need to actually have a blue print.  If so, go off the blue print to get preliminary measurements for quotes (just like you would if you were building a new home).

If you are doing the project yourself, you will have to guestimate where walls will be, etc., and get preliminary dimensions and quotes.  Be sure to re-measure when all the walls, windows, and doors are where they are going to be.

There are the guidelines for measuring your kitchen.

You can Return to our Kitchen Cabinet Idea page from this Measuring Your Kitchen page.  See below for related links too.

And remember - HAVE A HAPPY KITCHEN!!! (you're off to a good start if you measure your kitchen right!!)

Related Links:

Countertops for Kitchen Cabinets -

Kitchen Cabinet Idea - You can's afford to miss this (if you want to save some money) - 20 Savvy ideas to consider BEFORE you buy!

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