How to Measure Kitchen Countertops

Measuring kitchen countertops is more than simply measuring and cutting. It’s about precision and accuracy to the nearest fraction, decimal point, feet, or inch. Quartz countertops and granite countertops are expensive, and an incorrect measurement makes the entire slab useless.

Even for economical options like laminate and engineered stone countertops, starting over with countertop measurements because of a preventable mistake is costly. Save the budget from additional costs and use the countertop’s most accurate measurement on the first try. Learn how to measure kitchen countertops by gathering the right materials, measuring in the right directions, and considering layout and components.

Table of Contents

Measuring Materials

Getting an accurate estimate begins with using the right tools. The simple tools listed will help give you the right measurements to ensure every cut counts. Those are the same measuring materials you will need to measure bathroom countertops.

  • Tape measure or measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Graph paper or plain paper
  • Calculator
  • Straight edge (optional)
  • A helping hand (optional) 

Qualifying tape for this project should have a retractable steel blade, and the measurements must be in total inches and foot increments. A pencil is a better choice for drawing than a pen because the pencil erases errors. However, the pencil should write dark enough to read and scan.

A graph sheet is more accurate than a plain sheet. The calculator needed should be basic, not a scientific or graphing calculator. A straight-edge tool and a helping hand are there to improve accuracy, yet they are not the primary materials needed for the job.

Does Layout Matter

The countertop guides the kitchen layout across the sink and near cooktop areas and refrigerator. The kitchen floor plan matters when installing new countertops or repairing an existing countertop. Horseshoe/U-shape, gallery, and L-shaped counter space are the layouts in the kitchen. 

Not every jumbo slab on the kitchen counter is a single rectangle. Some of those layouts have curved corners, a curvy shape, a corner ledge, and waterfall edge style countertops, so you need a perfect measurement for those sections. There are also countertops for the kitchen island, kitchen peninsula, and wet bar, and none of those countertops are standard size.

While you find an accurate quote, the most important thing is to remember the layout. Gallery layouts are the easiest to measure and install because they are one long rectangular shape. L-shape and U-shape layouts are challenging yet solvable. 

What Are the Components to Work Around

The sink and cooking area mentioned in the last paragraph are the kitchen components to navigate, with the backsplash also on that list. The slab will need a hole in the countertop surface to fit a kitchen sink or install it around an existing one. Counter top cutouts are also necessary around the cooking range, sink fixtures, and prep sinks. 

Meanwhile, the backsplash affects the measurement. The decorative backsplash needs space between the countertop and the back wall. A .75 to 3-inch backsplash is a good idea, although you can go as high as 4 inches.

Something else to consider is the overhang or extension. Overhangs on countertops offer stability during tasks, conceal cabinet flaws, protect cabinet front doors from food spills, and keep clothes safe from hardware. The overhang protrudes forward by 1 and 1/2 inches.

An overhang is optional; the countertop can install flush (in line with the cabinet proportions). An extension goes 12 to 16 inches beyond the cabinet to create a breakfast bar or eating area. Kitchen peninsulas and islands may have this extension, or the eating area gets separate kitchen countertop dimensions as a raised bar version.

Furthermore, the special edges are a decorative protrusion for your countertop replacement. The exposed edges with a flat polish come in beveled, ogee, pencil, ease, cove, bullnose, and half-bullnose. A decorative edge needs more dimensions than a pencil edge.

The easiest way to get exact dimensions is to measure old countertops. A second way is to measure base cabinets, including cabinet doors, to get the length of the countertop. However, those methods are ineffective if you alter the backsplash length or cabinets. 

The Complete Guide

AdvertisementsTo err on the side of caution, always get a countertop supplier like Arch City Granite for your dream kitchen. The experts there will use high-quality materials to cut exact measurements of your countertop area while hiding seam locations for a perfect fit. They can also guide you toward the type of countertop materials based on material cost, maintenance, the color of granite, and more. 

If you want to learn or tackle the countertop project yourself, the following tips are the basic rules to make measuring work in your favor.

Step One

From the materials listed earlier, grab a piece of paper and sketch the area of interest with a pencil. Sketch a rough drawing of the layout, island, peninsula, wet bar, or raised breakfast bar. Use one sheet of paper for each area of interest.

For the L-shape and U-shape layouts, divide them into rectangular pieces. An L-shape would be two rectangular pieces, and a U-shape would be three rectangular pieces. Draw curvy countertops as precisely as possible.

An L shape with a corner ledge has two rectangular bookend pieces with an unusual shape at the center. A U-shaped corner ledge will have two irregular shapes and three rectangular pieces. Also, draw the sink, faucets, cooking range, cabinets, backsplash, and appliances’ new location on the diagram, even if the new area is the current area.

Step Two

The next step is to focus on the width and length of your countertop. The total length is the long end of the countertop from edge to edge. Standard width focuses on the countertop from the front countertop edge to the back of the wall. 

Use the retractable steel tape to measure the length and width of the countertop to the nearest inch. For L-shape and U-shape layouts, measure each piece separately. Write those measurements on the drawing; explain which dimensions go where. 

Add an extra 1.5 inches to the width dimensions as an overhang if you forgot to add it. Add 12-16 inches to the width as a breakfast bar extension. Curvy countertops use the most expansive curve piece for width dimensions and the longest line for length. 

A helpful hint is labeling each piece as sections, like section B. That will help in measuring each solid piece on the drawing separately. That is crucial to get the most accurate numbers for step four, so measure twice or three times if needed. 

Step Three

While in measuring mode, it’s a perfect time to get the depth of the countertops. The depth shows how thick the laminate, marble, quartz, or stone slab should be. To get that answer, measure the cabinet edge from top to bottom. 

The standard countertop depth is 1.5 inches plus 24-inch old or new cabinets for 25.5 inches. Your results may vary. Meanwhile, the backsplash height from top to bottom is another measurement to jot down only if you want to alter it.

Another countertop section to measure is the waterfall edge. Should you want one or replace an existing one, measure from the floor to the top of the countertop edge. Add two inches for wiggle room adjustments, and measure twice or three times for step four.

Step Four

It’s time to reach for the calculator, and the necessary information above will determine the accurate measurements of the countertop space. The fractions written on the paper will convert into decimals or whole numbers for the final square footage. Square footage focuses on a simple formula – length x width = area – to calculate square inches. 

That is the formula to use for each section of your countertops. To get the total square footage, add the answers from the previous calculations to get the total area. Divide the area by 144 to convert inches into square feet.

Linear feet measure the total number from top to bottom. It focuses on depth, which affects a waterfall edge countertop and new kitchen cabinets above and below the countertop. An expert or an online calculator can calculate this for you.

The average countertop space in kitchens is 3,000 square feet. As always, never do actual cutting until you measure and calculate again or let an expert do it.