Prevailing practices in kitchen design dictate acceptable countertop configurations, including their height. Traditionally, the height is derived from ergonomics, which take into account the tasks—such as food preparation—that are completed using the surface.
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The Common Kitchen Counter
The vast majority of kitchen countertops in the United States are designed at a height of 36 inches from floor surface to top of counter. This height has been the cabinet industry's long-time standard for kitchen counter height at sink areas, work areas and stove range locations.
The Serving Counter
Kitchen counters that serve as tall islands or food-serving bars are standardised in the industry at a height of 42 inches. This height makes for a comfortable eating surface when seated at a barstool.
The Lower Counter
As activities in the kitchen diversify, so do the counters. Kitchen countertops may include portions of lowered “desk height” counters where users can sit to perform clerical duties or eat. Standard “desk-height” counters are designed to be 30 inches above the floor. These are lowest of the common counter heights and are also useful for food preparation and baking activities that involve pressing down or rolling items over the counter.
The Accessible Counter
Kitchen counters in homes designed to serve a growing population of occupants using wheelchairs are standardised as well. Government agencies and building codes have determined that countertops in the kitchen shall be no higher than 34 inches.
The Right Counter for You
Normal kitchen counter height really depends on what is most comfortable for you. A comfortable counter height can be anywhere between 2 to 8 inches below your elbow. That means that for most of us, a 36-inch counter is most comfortable.