‘What height should a worktop be?’…This is a question only usually asked by very tall people when first meeting with one of our kitchen designers! Yet whilst they are first to think of it, kitchen worktop height is something everyone must consider within their new kitchen design.
Why does kitchen worktop height matter?
A recent occurrence in my personal life can shed some insight on why kitchen worktop height is important…I have a 6ft 4 in’ husband, Tom, who has just undergone neck surgery to fix a problem that has developed because of years of stooping.
This is within a multitude of everyday scenarios which includes bending to talk to people, lots of driving for work, and finally, stooping over a kitchen worktop that is too low in height for him. (I hasten to add here I have never forced him to cook, but it’s something he really enjoys!) People use their kitchen worktops everyday, and many times a day for preparing, cooking food, and washing up.. Yet my husband and I represent a typical scenario where our kitchen wasn’t designed for us personally. Instead it was already there when we moved into our flat. For us, having the worktop at the wrong height has been one of the factors that has contributed to Tom’s neck problem, and is a prime example of why getting the right worktop height is important. But what if we had designed our kitchen together? At 5ft 6, I am much shorter than Tom, so it follows that the right kitchen worktop height for him would be too high for me to comfortably use. Yet we both like to cook!
So what’s the answer?…
Work out your ideal kitchen worktop height
…Put simply, there is no specific worktop height that is right for all people because everyone differs in stature. But a typical kitchen worktop height is 900mm. This includes the height of a standard kitchen unit from floor to the underside of the worktop at 870mm, along with a typical 30mm worktop. But an individual’s ideal worktop height can be determined in one of two ways:-
1) Within German kitchen ergonomics, the ideal worktop height is determined as 15cm below bent elbow height; this is for a person standing up straight at a worktop.
2) A quicker and easier means for calculating ideal worktop height is by standing in front of a worktop with your arm straight down by your side; the ideal is the point where the ball of your wrist bone is level with the top of the worktop:
Ensure sufficient worktop clearance
No matter the kitchen worktop height, within any design there needs to be sufficient clearance between the top of the worktop and the base of any wall units. This allows for a clear and comfortable working space. The recommended minimum height for this is 400mm. However, this distance represents a more traditional spacing, generally used in older design styles. For more modern, streamlined and airy kitchen designs, this clearance is often closer to 600-700mm.
Deciding your kitchen worktop height
Kitchen base units are available starting from 870 mm (for shorter users) and up to 950-1000mm (for taller users). So you can decide which is best for you, and in accordance with what thickness of worktop you prefer.
Worktops are usually 30mm or 40mm,. This is the standard, but depending on the worktop material can be as thin as 8mm, or as thick as 120mm (this applies for mitred composite worktops only).
Worktop height solutions
In the case of my husband and I, according to my wrist bone measurement, my ideal kitchen worktop height is 880mm, and his is 990mm. So a happy median would be a worktop height of 935mm. This is how the most suitable kitchen worktop height is calculated for a lot of couples…unless one person is the predominant chef in the family! In this case a worktop height closer to that person’s ideal proves more beneficial.
An alternative solution is to include worktops at different heights within different areas of the kitchen. This might be a varied height worktop on an island, or else a breakfast bar overlay which offers additional height to that provided by the rest of the countertop.
Worktop height variables
Other factors you might consider before making a decision on kitchen worktop height are as follows:-
- How long you intend to live within your home. Should you decide to sell in the not-too-distant future then consider that a worktop height that differs significantly from the standard 900mm might not suit future owners.
- Who else lives in your house. This includes any children, and whether you need a design that accommodates them too.
- If you are planning worktops for specific purposes within your kitchen. An example of this would be a kitchen island intended for dining at, and which has space for bar stools underneath.
If you would like LWK Kitchens assistance in working out your ideal kitchen worktop height, please contact us.