How to Measure for New Cabinet Doors

18th Jul 2014

Sometimes all it takes to remodel a kitchen and make a big change is switching out old cabinet doors with brand new ones. After all, it's a relatively easy way to help pull together a theme or express your personality more clearly. When you're about to begin the process of ordering new custom-built cabinet doors, it's important that you measure your existing ones accurately. Submitting imprecise numbers can lead to disappointing results and cabinet doors that don't fit as they should.

If you want cabinet doors and drawers of the same size as what you already have, the process is very straight-forward. All you will have to do is use a measuring tape to determine the height and width of all of the cabinets and drawer fronts you want replaced. Record the numbers onto a piece of paper or onto the online forms you will be submitting as your order.

If you want to switch up your kitchen a little more, and go with larger or smaller doors or drawer fronts, you'll have a little extra work to do. Here are a few tips on measuring for new doors that are a different size than your original ones:

  • Understand what overlays are and the desired measurements of your new cabinets. The overlay of a door is how much of the face frame it will cover. When you have two cabinet doors that open up into a single cabinet box with a stile in between, you'll need to consider how much of the center stile and the overall surrounding frame you'll want covered by the doors. A partial overlay is where an inch or more of the surrounding cabinet can be seen, and a partial overlay is where one fourth to one eighth of an inch of cabinet can be seen.
    There are a few standard measurements of overlays that have been established by the manufacturers of cabinet hinges in order to make coming up with a proper measurement easier. Check with the company you're buying cabinet doors from to see if they have any advice on overlay measurements. Many cabinet door companies have web pages dedicated to describing overlays with visual aides and measuring guides, so be sure to check those out.
  • Measure the cabinet openings carefully. You will want one end of the measuring tape to start at the innermost side of the frame and go across the open space of the cabinet, stopping at the inner edge of the parallel frame. This number would be your width. Height is measured the same way, but vertically. When measuring a cabinet with two doors, measure from the inner edge of the frame to the inner edge of the center stile; that will be the first door's measurements. Then repeat the process for the right side of the cabinet.
  • Once you have the measurements of your openings, you may need to do the appropriate overlay calculations. Some order forms will allow you to simply input the opening measurements and then add your overlay preferences separately, while others will need to take the overlays into account and give them one number for the height and width of door you need.

While going through the process of measuring and calculating the overlay, go through your work at least twice. Catching an error will save you a lot of trouble down the road, and double checking is a good habit to have when it comes to making changes in any room of your home. Measuring for new cabinet doors may seem complicated, but sometimes using your existing doors as a starting point and adding or subtracting from there can make the process a bit easier. When in doubt, it may be best to get in contact with someone who is more experienced in cabinetry. Whether they be the home improvement hobbyist next door, or a trained employee from the company you're purchasing the cabinet doors from, a helping hand can mean the difference between ill-fitting doors and a successful kitchen re-facing project.