Kitchen countertop standard height is 36 inches.
Kitchen bar counter height is 42 inches.
Bathroom standard countertop height is 32 and 36 inches.
Counters should be between 28 and 34 inches tall to meet ADA requirements.
Counter height includes countertop thickness, which typically is 1 1/2 inches.
You probably don’t think about the height of your countertops when stirring a pot of soup or brushing your teeth. But if you’re planning a renovation or looking to sell your home soon, countertop height will impact your comfort in the space and resale value. Here’s what you need to know about standard countertop heights in kitchens and bathrooms.
Kitchen Counter Height
According to the American National Standards Institute, the standard kitchen countertop height is 36 inches from the floor. This measurement includes cabinets that are typically 34 1/2 inches tall and a countertop thickness of 1 1/2 inches—add the two, and you get a total of 36 inches.
Kitchen Bar Height
If you’re shopping for a kitchen table alternative, a popular choice is a bar-style counter where you and your family can sit on bar stools or chairs during casual mealtimes. The ergonomically ideal height for a bar-style kitchen counter or kitchen island seating is up to 42 inches from the floor.
"With the recent increase in working from home, clients are looking for kitchen workspaces where they can sit for prolonged periods of time," says Bob Tschudi, Angi Expert and Raleigh, NC-based general contractor. "In one case, we had the client sit in the chair they planned to use and installed the countertop at the height that was most comfortable for working on a laptop."
Bar-style counters are a great choice for entertaining multiple guests. You’ll need taller chairs or stools for comfortably sitting at bar height, but these counters are also the perfect height for standing with a beverage.
Bathroom Counter Height
The standard countertop height is 32 to 36 inches, which can be slightly shorter than kitchen counter height. In the past, many homes only had one bathroom; to accommodate both children and adults, builders decided a lower height was appropriate.
As homes have expanded to include more bathrooms, it’s become more common to see countertops at 36 inches, such as comfort height vanities, so taller adults don’t have to bend as far down to reach the sink.
Countertop Material Thickness
While most countertop materials are 1 1/2 inches thick, there are some materials—like quartz, granite, and marble—that come in thinner sizes, usually about 3/4 inches to 1 1/4 inches. Your local countertop installer might put wood spacers at the bottom of the cabinets to ensure the countertops are the right height. The spacers are then covered by trim molding.
How Was Counter Height Standardized?
The 36-inch standardization originated with a study conducted at the University of Illinois in the 1940s. Researchers studied how people functioned in the kitchen, and based on the average height of women at the time (5 feet, 3 inches), 36 inches became the standard height for a working space.
However, since both men and women work in the kitchen—and average height has increased over the years—some designers are changing their recommendations based on the height and preferences of their clients. For example, a taller adult may feel more comfortable preparing food in a kitchen with taller counters. Julia Child’s kitchen countertops were actually raised 2 inches to accommodate her height.
According to the Americans With Disabilities Act, people who use a wheelchair can comfortably use a kitchen or bathroom counter between 28 and 34 inches tall. If your counters are approximately 1 1/2 inches thick, adjust your base cabinet height to 26 1/2 to 30 1/2 inches to fit ADA guidelines.
If you choose to deviate from the standard for counter height, you may want to pause for a moment and think about your resale value. Installing counters that are higher or lower than the standard may work for you and your family but may not be ideal for potential home buyers. If you’re planning to stay in your home for the long run, customize away for your comfort—but if you’re planning to move within the next five years, it’s best to standardize.
"We worked on a house that had custom cabinets that were six inches taller, as the owners were both very tall," says Tschudi "We found that it was easier to remove and replace all cabinets than to try to lower the existing configuration."