Kitchen counters come in a variety of sizes, shapes and materials. Even with all the different combinations available, standard sizes dominate the kitchen industry. Standardisation of cabinets, countertops and appliances makes planning easier. Custom countertops can be made for a particular project but standard kitchen counters can easily be found and are more affordable.
The rise of stock cabinetry has developed a new standard for countertop depth. Stock cabinets are a popular and economical choice in many homes. Base cabinets come in preset sizes of 24 inches deep and 34 1/2 inches tall. Widths begin at 6 inches and increase in 3-inch increments. Heights can vary up to 40 1/2 inches tall. Standard depth for a countertop on a typical base cabinet is 25 inches.
Countertops extend out from the face frame of the cabinets and just over the cabinet doors. This is called the overhang. Standard cabinet frames are 24 inches deep with 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick doors. Most countertops have a 1 inch overhang to make a standard depth of 25 inches.
While there are many different materials to use for countertops, most come in a standard thickness of 1 1/2 inches. Products such as solid surface materials and laminates are thinner and have to be built up using plywood. Stone products such as granite are quarried and are solid materials. This creates the standard kitchen counter height of 36 inches when placed on a standard 34 1/2 inch tall base cabinet.
Eat-at bars have become common in kitchen designs. Countertops must accommodate bars and need to be deeper. While bar overhangs vary greatly, an average size bar commonly extends out 10 1/2 inches to 12 inches. A 24-inch deep cabinet with a 1 inch overhang on the front and an 11-inch bar would need a 36-inch deep countertop. A counter on a step-up bar is a minimum of 15 1/2 inches if it sits on a 4-inch wall and has a 1 inch overhang on the front.
One size does not fit all and slight variations to standard sizes are common. Quarried stone countertops are typically cut to 3cm, which is roughly 1 1/4 inch thick. Laminate and other materials may only be 1 inch thick to create a 35 1/2 inch tall cabinet. Overhangs can also range from 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches. It is also common practice to use the sink or cooktop as a focal point in the kitchen. The cabinets housing the appliances are pulled away from the wall or custom-made 3 inches to 6 inches deeper. The countertops are made 28 inches to 31 inches deep to accommodate the depth change.